Using Anxiety as an Excuse Hurts Me, But I'll Do It Anyway

January 14, 2015 Gabe Howard

Using anxiety as an excuse holds me back from opportunities and happiness. I have fears like everyone else, but using anxiety to get out of trying doesn't help.

Regardless of any mental illness I have, I am still a regular person with fears and doubts common to everyone. But because I also have an anxiety disorder, I’m able to use anxiety as an excuse when I doubt myself or am afraid of something. And I often do.

Anxiety is a legitimate disorder that needs careful management. When I need to leave a party at a certain time to go home, take my medication, and get a proper amount of sleep – that isn’t an excuse. That is appropriate anxiety management and I should be applauded for making the healthy choice. But sometimes, my choices are based on things other than my health.

Using Anxiety as an Excuse Is Good for Creating Unfulfilling Relationships and to Hold Yourself Back

Using Anxiety as a Weapon

As a person with an anxiety disorder I have a built-in excuse to not try. I think to myself, I can't do it. Is using anxiety as an excuse holding me back?

Given the right person and circumstances, anxiety could be used as a weapon. I don’t recommend using anxiety as a weapon, however, because I learned in preschool what happened to the boy who cried wolf.

I have never outright lied to someone about not being able to do something because of an illness I suffer from, anxiety and bipolar disorder included. There is an enticement to hedge our bets when it comes to certain things. If we have social anxiety disorder, for example, and are a little concerned about holidays with the in-laws and maybe we decide not to try. It isn’t a lie, exactly, but it does show a serious lack of effort. That lack of serious effort is not good anxiety management.

Using Anxiety to Hold Yourself Back

Depending on how you look at the world, using anxiety as an excuse to stay in a bad situation, date the wrong person, or simply not try may be no worse than skipping the occasional holiday meal. In this context, you can literally use anxiety to hold yourself back.

Being afraid to try something isn’t the exclusive domain of those with anxiety. It may affect us more, or differently, but we do not hold a monopoly on fear of the unknown. What I’ve noticed in myself, however, is the tendency to swap out the phrase “scared to do it” with the phrase “can’t do it.”

Not being able to do something takes the blame off a person and puts it on something else – in this case, anxiety disorder. It holds the added bonus of not having to try. After all, it can’t be done.

Perhaps it really can’t be done. Even the most successful people have failed at something. Championship sports teams don’t go undefeated all season. But they try and they play every game. They take responsibility, they fight through the fear, and they give it their best.

I suggest we do the same.

You can find Gabe on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and his website.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2015, January 14). Using Anxiety as an Excuse Hurts Me, But I'll Do It Anyway, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Gabe Howard

Luis Figueiredo
July, 7 2017 at 4:29 am

I honestly don't know if I am doing so, I am failling at almost every thing at the uni, skipping many classes and leaving early/arriving late to avoid social interaction, failling, missing exams and being lonely really is putting me down, never go out with anyone other than myself, to the woods or lonely city corners. I ressorted to. Drug abuse(cannabis) to deal with this but it doesn't necessarily help, only makes me feel better about not doing thesse things(scool and social stuff I always refused, even though I've been kinda lucky with class mates since 7th grade, stopped drug now, feel bad all the time, like before :( .... I'm 20, how have I, or anyone, not notice i have a problem before, I always remember feeling like this but this last year, since my dad threw me out, was the least productive , and I been feeling the worst since then, ressorting to drugs to deal with it(which I now stopped to prove myself I can). Am I just a lazy drug user? I wish I could get into zombie mode and just finish studies! Deal with these problems afterwards, but I can't, they affect me now!

June, 5 2016 at 9:55 am

Friends use their anxiety in traveling, by car or public transportation as an excuse not to visit. I have travelled to these people for over 20 years. Now that I'm having problems, neither person will even try to get here. I am very hurt by this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 2 2023 at 10:38 am

I don’t blame you for being hurt. It depends on if they travel to see others a similar distance. It still hurts anyway. My father used to travel to Rhode Island from New York, but he wouldn’t travel to my house in New Jersey from New York. That’s how I knew it was specific to me.

February, 17 2016 at 1:44 am

I think this is really thoughtful, well written, and honest. I've had anxiety my whole life and have often gotten down on myself when I feel like I should be doing something, but I get scared and don't, etc. Over the years I've realized how important the way we word things to ourselves is. There is such a huge difference between "I'm scared to" and "I can't". I don't believe the majority of people are aware of this, or even do it on purpose. It's kind of a repetitive cycle - I think that for someone with anxiety we begin to subconsciously avoid anything that even resembles that emotion of fear, discomfort, etc being as it can be quite constant in our every day lives with every day things. I know I have gotten into a rut the past few years, subconsciously and consciously avoiding anything that could potentially bring on a panic/anxiety attack or what I may perceive as a failure. I stop myself before I get started. I think it's very easy to start substituting "can't" for "scared" and before we know it we believe we can't. Just as it took time to believe "can't", I have begun rewording and watching how I talk to myself about things. I've made some good steps, and will always keep working on it. Thank you for writing about this subject in a gentle way that sheds light on some behaviour we might unknowingly create.

December, 12 2015 at 10:41 am

This must be quite a while since you wrote this but upon reading this article, my brain yelled "Finally! someone who thought the same as I do". I don't really know how severe this anxiety thing can damage people but sometimes I really can't sympathize with people that use it as an excuse in doing simple chores so that other people will do it for them. For example, in college, whenever we have to form a group and do a presentation on a stage or in class, some people always say that they are nervous, scare and so they dont want to do it because they cant. And Im like, "are you kidding me? You think you're the only one who feel like that? You think Im not nervous and scared too? Try first before you say you can't do it". Or I have this one friend that have a driving license but she always said that she's afraid nervous blabla and Im so frustrated with her. I cant stop thinking that she's just a lazy person. I know her attitude well enough because we are roomate in college and she always give excuse when people ask for help. Its not like we ask her to do complex thing, just simple stuff like download a file and print but she always said she's not good with computer blabla. So annoying. And these kind of people are the one who always complain why other people can't understand or ask them out whether to an outing or maybe go for a movie. My heart always said that its because you don't try to make efforts to be liked by other people, that's why people arent bothered with you.
But whenever I thought like that, I feel like Im kind of an asshole because I myself dont really fully understand how anxiety works. Though I think I might have some anxiety as well but not a serious one.
But in all honesty, if the thing that you should do is not really that big of a problem, you should try and do it instead of giving an excuse and let other people do it for you. Its your responsibility, why would you not do it? Its not like you are in a deep trouble like not having enough to eat, doesnt have place to sleep and so on. Thousand of people in third world country have miserable life and dont even have half of your luxurios living condition, who dont even get to make excuse, fought for their life and doing miserable things just to stay alive. And here you are complaining on the most simple task that is your responsibility.
All in all, I think people should at least try to overcome the thing that they are scared of by doing it. If you ALWAYS give excuse then people won't believe it anymore and will give you the lazy title. But if you have try to overcome it many times and still can't do it then Im sorry for you. I hope things will get better for you. This is NOT for everyone who have anxiety, rather I just direct it towards some of my friends who dont want to contribute anything to society but demands other people to do it for them but then complain when people dont want to be with them.
Sorry if this sounds like nonsense. Just my two cents.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Cornyn Gow
February, 18 2016 at 3:55 pm

Walk one kilometre in her shoes & you will understand how it is!!! When I offer to do something for someone I start with tremors in my stomach & hands & then my head feels like it is going to burst, thoughts flying backwards & forwards then may breathing becomes extremely bad almost hyperventilating, that is probably how she has got to the point where she's afraid to show you what happens - don't judge her too harshly ... it is very difficult to understand if you've never felt this!!!

January, 17 2015 at 3:28 pm

I really appreciate your articles. They are thought provoking and helpful. Keep up the great work.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
January, 18 2015 at 1:58 pm

Thank you so much! That means a lot! Sincerely, Gabe ! :)

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