Anxiety is something we all experience. But oftentimes, rather than allowing ourselves to feel our anxiety and accept the way that we’re feeling in the present moment, instead we shy away from it. We refuse to face it. And as a result, our anxious thoughts drain us until we can no longer take it anymore. Until we can no longer be happy anymore.
For years, I struggled with my own anxiety. I allowed my anxious thoughts and distressed feelings to hold me back, ultimately causing me to constantly seek distractions from my feelings. It was only until much later, however, that I learned to lean into my anxiety. To not only allow it to be there, but also, to work in communion with it rather than persist and resist it’s presence.
By allowing my anxiety to be there, in some strange and unexplainable way, I ended up befriending it. Of course, anxiety and I aren’t the best of friends. And of course, there are times when I wish my anxiety wouldn’t be there. But I did gain a new perspective about my anxiety, and more profoundly, my life. Because no matter what we do, anxiety will always be in our lives, and we have to come to peace with that.
So instead of loathing about my anxious thoughts, I began to choose differently for myself. I began to look at my anxiety from the lens of a new pair of glasses, and rather than see my stressful thoughts as poison, I began to see them as indicators.
What is our anxiety an indication of?
For one, whether something scares us. And most likely if something scares us, it means that deep down, we ultimately may want that for ourselves. I was scared to be a writer, and it took me a long time to realize that my anxious thoughts were merely my true thoughts in disguise trying to trick me into believing that I didn’t have what it takes to succeed.
Second, our anxious thoughts are an indicator of what’s most important to us. If we care about someone or something, we’ll often second guess ourselves with the dread of self-doubt. We’ll allow our minds to play tricks on us, telling us that things won’t work out, when really, it’s all just an indication of what’s truly important to you in your life.
And finally, our anxiety is an indication that we are HUMAN. That we not only feel all of life’s many positive experiences, but we also feel the negative ones. And although the negative feelings may tend to consume our lives at certain times, the negative situations, which are followed by negative anxious thoughts, allow us to appreciate the good ones.
You see, we can’t fully appreciate and be grateful for all the good things in our life unless we go through times of hardship, difficulties, and yes, even anxiety. So the next time you catch yourself being anxious, remember: Your anxiety is there to serve you, even if it doesn’t quite seem like it at the time. This is how your anxiety will help you. But most of all, this is what it means to turn your anxiety into strength.