Anxiety is not always harmful
I've talked before about using depression as an opportunity and anxiety is similar in many ways. There's a level it can get to where it's clearly damaging our lives, but often we're too quick to describe as ourselves as having anxiety, not recognizing that it can play an important role in keeping us on our toes.
To live completely without anxiety and having any degree of responsibility as an adult is unrealistic and is a reality that far fewer people experience than we might think, despite the image portrayed by people we see on social media, politics or our everyday lives.
Most of those people we see that seem to live free from anxiety worry just as much as you do, they simply have become better at living with it and recognizing what's really worth thinking about and what's just noise coming from a well meaning but misguided part of your brain- the one who worries about every little aspect of your life like a 89 year old mother who calls you every day, asking if you remembered to lock the door or to make sure people like you.
Whether we want to believe it or not, even the most secure and successful amongst us are only a bad decision or two away from causing a lot of damage to ourselves and others. Anxiety is normal and when under control and understood in a more positive light, can help to keep us from putting ourselves in a bad spot!
The danger of always avoiding anxiety
The level of anxiety some of us experience made a lot more sense as little as a few hundred years ago; we often lived from one meal to the next, were under constant threat of violence and disease and having a child meant rolling the dice on the life of both the mother and the baby. The game has changed now, with the threats much less serious, but the level of worry our brains are accustomed to might need a few thousand years to catch up.
But within our new, less physically dangerous world there's still danger, or at least what seems like danger to us. A lack of attention or effort can derail careers or savings rapidly, cost you your marriage or just cause you to become a giant asshole because you never give a seconds thought to how your behavior is perceived by others.
The key is to gain a healthy understanding and acceptance of anxiety. We are far too quick to run to our overwhelmed doctor and claim we can't deal with anxiety anymore- and just to get on to the next patient, they'll be happy to write a scrip and get you on your way. I understand that you might be feeling overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety yourself, but be careful about taking something that will just wipe it all away.
Some of those feelings of anxiety might be related to you not living up to your own internal standards or not getting what you want out of life. Flushing them down the toilet is a danger in and of itself that I would, ironically, be a little anxious about.
There's probably nothing "wrong" with you
Make an effort to distinguish between the various things you're feeling anxiety about- are these things something I have any control of or not? And you must be honest! There is difference between having anxiety, say around large crowds or dating that are related to a severe childhood trauma as opposed to just rightly being a little nervous about being rejected or being in a crowd of human beings who sometimes get a little crazy.
Anxiety is normal, but in a culture of avoidance and perfection, we start to take this identity of helplessness and thinking that we have something wrong with us. This can cut us off from feelings that are natural and often serve an important purpose. Get in touch with your core values (spoiler alert- deep down they're the same for all of us) and start to prioritize what's worth getting anxious about.
Once you do that, you might find that the anxiety you get about who likes you at work or why you need more money to be worthy of love are silly- and that worrying a bit about your health, family and basic security are actually a good thing.
Feel great again with Cooper Health Coaching!
Cooper Health Coaching is a personal training and health coaching service located in Vancouver, B.C. providing in-person and online coaching for clients locally and across North America. Founder Geoff Cooper is certified as both a Health Coach and Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).