Stop Trying to Think Your Way Out of Anxiety

The most common mental illness is anxiety.  

I am sure you are not surprised by this statement. Spend 10 minutes talking with women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and you will know how many people anxiety touches. 

There is a broad spectrum of anxiety, how it shows up, and the impact it has on an individual. i

  • One client described anxiety as a transformer blowing leading to a multi-block night.  

  • While another client stated they haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time for months and find their anxiety increasing every time they look at the clock and watch time pass.

Regardless of how anxiety shows up for us, it all stems from this ongoing fear and deep seeded apprehension.

As adults, we believe we can ‘think’ our way into feeling differently when we worry. Do you find yourself using statements like;

“I shouldn’t feel nervous about going to work today,” or 

“I need be able to go on a job interview without anxiety,” or 

“I can’t fall asleep, I have to get calm so I can sleep.”  

When you berate yourself into believing you have to be a different way, your anxiety level actually heightens with even greater feelings of inadequacy.

When we use words like should, need to, or have to, we are actually piling onto our own state of anxiety. 

Think about it, if you have a big presentation the next day, and you tell yourself that you have to do well and not get nervous and stay on point, what you are doing is actually piling onto the original fear, adding more layers to our anxiety onion.  

We need to be okay with acknowledging our anxious feelings. They are part of us, they are valid. Trying to rid yourself of them, push them down or block them doesn’t actually work, nor is it healthy for us.  Anxiety stems from us, who we are, what has happened to us in the past and the memories we hold onto, none of which we can run away from (no matter how fast we run).

Stop trying to block anxiety (it won’t work and will actually make the situation much worse).

What we can do is take little steps to shift the anxiety, lessen it a bit, in an effort to neutralize it eventually. 

Try using positive word reinforcement when anxious, such as; 

“I would like to feel ok with going to work today,” or 

“I prefer to go on the job interview without feeling so nervous.”  

Rid yourself of the should of’s and add in I would like to or prefer to instead. These are accepting terms, terms that show self-compassion and love for your whole being. 

If your goal is to rid yourself of anxiety by using a wave of the wand, this isn’t for you — and placing those unrealistic expectations will only add clutter in your anxiety closet.

If your goal is to lessen its power, moving at just a small step at a time, then take this first step.  

Marissa Bishop