You Can Let Yourself Be Anxious (Why It's Okay)
Thursday, April 27 2017 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
It's truly okay to let yourself be anxious. Why? Because sometimes we all just need to allow ourselves to feel how we feel, to be okay with anxious thoughts (Letting Someone with Mental Illness Be Upset). It's even okay to express those anxious feelings. The key is how much we let ourselves be anxious.
To be sure, most people want to not just manage anxiety (which is very important to do) but to completely get rid of anxiety (realistically, anxiety is a normal human emotion that has a purpose, so it's impossible to get rid of it fully -- yet we can get rid of all of that excessive, life-limiting anxiety). If the goal is to reduce the amount of time we feel anxious, why in the world would we let ourselves feel anxious?
Does letting ourselves be anxious set us back? Not necessarily.
It's Healthy to Let Yourself Be Anxious
Letting ourselves feel anxious from time to time is actually good for our mental health and wellbeing because it
- allows you to acknowledge, rather than deny, anxiety
- lets you increase your acceptance of anxiety, which helps you stop fighting it (because when we fight anxiety, our focus is on anxiety)
- provides the opportunity to vent and release feelings
- helps you stop beating yourself up for being anxious (resisting something inside of you sends you the subconscious message that you are "bad" or need fixing)
- similar to the above, letting yourself be anxious helps you separate yourself from your anxiety; anxiety isn't who you are, it's a feeling and group of thoughts and behaviors that you're experiencing.
- is a form of self-acceptance, of self-kindness, and self-care (notice the "selfs" -- this is about you rather than anxiety)
Let Yourself Be Anxious, But Don't Get Stuck
It is indeed healthy to let yourself feel what you feel. Anxiety, though, has a nasty habit of taking over. If we let ourselves wallow in anxiety, anxiety begins to dominate our thoughts and feelings as well as control our actions.
Let yourself feel anxious, and then move forward. Focus on everything else about you that is not anxious.
I discuss this briefly in the below video. I invite you to tune in.