What Does Anxiety Say About You?

Thursday, March 12 2015 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

If anxiety weren't bad enough, it creates an additional worry: what is anxiety saying about you? Surprise--anxiety might not have bad things to say about you.

You have anxiety. What does anxiety say about you? When we live with anxiety, we worry--often a lot. We can experience great fear, both rational and irrational. Do you ever worry that your anxiety is obvious to the entire world and that the entire world is pointing and judging? That's actually a fairly common concern among people who experience anxiety. Perhaps, though, the worry about what anxiety says about you is a worry you can put to rest.

Anxiety Might Not Say Anything About You

It's easy to feel self-conscious when we're dealing with anxiety. After all, it feels gigantic and monstrous with all of the symptoms of anxiety we can experience.

Many of the symptoms, however, are trapped inside of us. While they can wreak havoc on our lives and make us feel miserable, people on the outside really can't see what's going on. They are on the outside and thus can't know the inner turmoil that is our anxiety. Even panic attacks aren't always as obvious as we think they are.

I used to experience anxiety attacks, and I was shocked to discover that no one knew it. I thought that sweating, shaking, difficulty breathing and coughing were dead giveaways to my angst. Little did I know that the sweating and trembling weren't obvious, and the coughing was brushed of as asthma or allergies. (I even had a doctor diagnose me with asthma, so the anxiety attacks weren't even obvious to this medical practitioner.)

Perhaps consider the idea that while anxiety feels obvious to you, it might not be so blatant to others. With that realization, you just might be able to cross one worry, the worry about what others are thinking, off your list.

Anxiety Might Have Good Things to Say About You

Sure, there might be some people who are aware that we have anxiety. This doesn't have to be a source of dread and mortification, though. Anxiety might feel horrible to experience, but that in no way means that you are a horrible person. For example:

  • When anxiety says you have fears about safety, it's saying that you are a deeply caring person who doesn't want bad things to happen to others or yourself.
  • When anxiety says you fear failure, it's saying you are motivated and care about success.
  • When anxiety says you worry about being judged, it's saying that you want to be liked and to be seen as capable.
  • When anxiety says you worry excessively about many different things, it's saying that you are a passionate person who cares about things going right.

Anxiety can put some pretty awful thoughts in our head; however, these anxious thoughts and beliefs are untrustworthy. It's time to take back our thoughts and see ourselves positively. When we listen to the good things anxiety is saying about our strengths, we can begin to pay more attention to those strengths. When that happens, we build the strengths and reduce anxiety.

Own the positive things anxiety says about you. Anxiety can have positive meanings. Proudly let them shine.

You can also connect with Tanya J. Peterson on her website, Google+, Facebook,Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

View all posts by Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC.

What Does Anxiety Say About You?

Sheila Bergquist
says:
March, 12 2015 at 4:16 am

I love this article! It's the first one I have ever read with this slant on anxiety. Having severe anxiety and panic, this really made me feel better...thank you for that. I like all your posts, but this one has such a refreshing outlook.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 12 2015 at 3:06 pm

Hi Sheila!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! The ideas in the article are genuine, and I have found that reframing my own anxiety this way has been very helpful. I wanted to pass it along. I'm glad this is something that could be helpful for you. It takes many different things to beat anxiety, but it can be done!!

Thomas
says:
March, 13 2015 at 11:59 am

I always feel that my anxiety preceedes it's partner, depression. And it is more debilitating. Your perspective is very helpful, right now. I am struggling. Having your words today to occupy my mind is already having a positive effect. You have offered a direction which just might lead me out of this dark place (along with the meds.). Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 13 2015 at 5:02 pm

Hello Thomas,
Anxiety and depression do often accompany each other. It's great that you recognize the pattern, because with awareness, you can take steps to curb both anxiety and depression. The struggle can be just that -- a struggle. It can be difficult, but in doing exactly what you are doing (gaining awareness and insight, learning information, building strategies, and taking medication--which works great for some people and not so great for others), you are making yourself stronger than anxiety and depression, and you can definitely overcome them. I'm happy that you found this article to be positive! Thank you.

Thomas
says:
March, 13 2015 at 3:19 pm

It seems that anxiety always preceeds it's partner depression. I find it more debilitating. I am struggling with it. With your words to occupy my mind today I feel some positive relief. And a new direction which can hopefully lead me out of this dark place. Like you I have coped with this for many years. Thank you for this i site.

Alice
says:
March, 16 2015 at 12:38 pm

I like that you could be saying everyone may have a form of anxiety. Some people I know look at it regularly as an opportunity and positive force. I look at sometimes as a feeling that brings on (temporary) hopelessness that stays with me more than many people I know. For me, when I am feeling hopeless with my anxiety it is good to remember the self care and things I can do to see the things in my life in a different light. It helps mostly to connect in different ways such as reading and responding to positive and professional articles like yours. Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2015 at 3:17 pm

Hello Alice,
Thank you so much for sharing your insights. Your ideas could be very helpful to others. I agree with you that different people look at anxiety differently. I don't think either aspect is wrong -- sometimes it is a positive force, and sometimes it's something that brings on temporary (yes, temporary!) hopelessness. Keep doing what you're doing. I'm glad you enjoy these articles on HealthyPlace! :)

debbie
says:
May, 13 2015 at 11:24 am

A iam crippled by anxiety and panic so bad I dont know what s happening my mind just keeps seeing different . Images all day its giving me fear what going on. If iam talking on the phone an image of a place pops up and all iam keep dwelling on is that place . So scared

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 13 2015 at 12:08 pm

Hello Debbie,
Anxiety and panic can be very crippling, and the images can seem to overtake people. No matter how horrible it is, it truly is possible to overcome it. It's a process that doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen. Have you considered seeing a counselor/therapist? Therapy is extremely helpful for many people. Medication can be helpful sometimes, too, and a doctor can help you determine what might help. Seeking help is a sign of strength because you are taking action to heal.

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