How To Politely Fire Your Anxiety

Dr. Hayley Bauman

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 % of the population, or nearly 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54. Yet, despite this high number, many people with anxiety still feel totally alone.

Part of the reason for this is that anxiety tells us not to talk about her! She is the voice that says:

  • You are not good enough
  • You can’t tell anyone what you are feeling
  • You are a bad friend
  • You aren’t good at your job
  • You are a horrible mother
  • You are terrible at sports
  • You are a fraud
  • Nobody likes you
  • You will never fit in

And the list goes on. When anxiety gets hold of your thoughts, it’s like sliding down a tunnel, getting further and further away from the light. However, if you are a high-functioning anxiety sufferer, then you experience all of these ideas with a smile on your face.

Many people who suffer from anxiety find that if they can keep themselves busy enough, that they won’t succumb to the negative thoughts. The problem is, that, busyness, is an addiction, complete with tolerance and withdrawal. Over time, you have to be even busier to stop the thoughts from coming, because, just as the “Grinch” found regarding Christmas, you can’t really stop thoughts.

What you Can Do, however is to look anxiety in the eye and stop running. Give it a name. Something non-threatening, like Carl. Say, “Hi Carl,” every time you find yourself questioning your ability to make a proper peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, or nail a perfect downward dog.

Get to know Carl. Find the times of day, and in which places he tends to be the loudest. Know that, in his own unsuccessful way, he’s actually trying to help you. Like a well-meaning grandmother who comments on your growing double-chin, he really doesn’t want you to get hurt out there in the big, bad, world. That’s why he’s so hard on you.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should listen to him! Like that well-meaning grandmother, he’s misguided and out of touch. Tell him you understand what he’s trying to do, but that it’s okay for him to retire now. You’ve got this from here on out.

Tell him that:

  • You are strong
  • You are more than the number of things that you do in a day
  • You can try new things, and if you fail, that’s okay because you are learning
  • The world is only as scary as your next foot forward
  • You can ask for help, and that’s a good thing!
  • You are not a fraud, you are exactly who you were meant to be.

Tell your anxiety that he’s welcome to sit on your bus, but that he can no longer be the driver. There’s a new driver in town, and, to quote Alicia Keys, “that girl is on fire!”

If you would like to talk more about how to handle your anxiety, contact me. I’m here to help!