How to React to Anxiety If You Don’t Have It

July 22, 2020 TJ DeSalvo

This is going to sound, to some, unduly harsh, but I’ve been finding it more and more frustrating to be around people who don’t have anxiety, because it’s been made very clear to me that most people who don’t have it don’t have any clue how to react to anxiety when it happens.

How Many People React to Anxiety

Here’s the thing: I understand that most of these people have their hearts in the right place. They’re trying their best to react to anxiety in a helpful way, and I don’t fault them for it. But at the same time, that’s what can be so frustrating. They think they’re helping, and they’re not.

I’ll get straight to the point: in my experience, (and it must be emphasized that I can only speak from the experiences of people that I’ve personally encountered) many people react to anxiety in what I consider a very negative way. It’s something scary and deviant, and it should be fixed immediately.

How to Better React to Anxiety

I don’t want to suggest anxiety shouldn’t be diminished or people shouldn’t work to diminish it, but there are better ways to react to anxiety. What I am suggesting is this view of anxiety as scary and deviant is dangerous and should be discarded immediately.

Setting aside that viewing mental health issues as deviant is a socially toxic way of thinking, it isn’t even accurate for someone who is mentally ill. If you have an anxiety disorder, being anxious is not deviant, but the norm. If someone says it's deviant, he or she is saying a normal state of being is deviant – is that the kind of message anyone should be sending?

Anxiety can be scary – no doubts there. But for me, as someone who has anxiety, my reaction to this scary thing is not to try to banish it from existence because – and I can’t stress this enough – that literally cannot be done. Anxiety will always be a part of my life and I cannot do anything to change that.

That being said, even though anxiety may scare me sometimes, I do not see anxiety itself as something scary. I can’t. I see it as something that will always be with me, something that will at times cause me discomfort and hardship, and something that I will have to learn to live with and navigate in a healthy way, as opposed to trying to negate it entirely.

And that’s what I want people who don’t have anxiety to take away from this. People with anxiety will always be anxious. That’s a fact, so it’s really not a good idea to look at it like it’s some demon needing exorcism, regardless of how helpful you may think it is. Instead, react to anxiety by taking a more nuanced approach – I don’t want to claim to speak for everyone with anxiety, but from my experience, that kind of approach is infinitely more helpful.

APA Reference
DeSalvo, T. (2020, July 22). How to React to Anxiety If You Don’t Have It, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, February 27 from

Author: TJ DeSalvo

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