Anxiety - Your Personal Antihero
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Anxiety - it's a movement — a feeling that can overwhelm you, but you can't put your finger on what exactly it feels like. In my experience as a counselor, the most common description of the physical expression of anxiety is, "I just can't describe how it feels, but it's crawly."
You know — the creepy, black, stringy/spidery, weird-face parasite thing in the Marvel comics series? Venom, a perfect representation of anxiety and how it consumes you.
The more often you let it consume you, the more space in your body it can control. It starts with the spider, creepy-crawly feelings, and then it holds your mind, your thoughts, and eventually, your actions hostage.
You become the representation of your anxiety, crippling you in your very existence. And it feels terrifying.
⚠ Reality check ⚠
You are NOT your anxiety, but anxiety can be a part of who you are.
If you resonate with the description above, trust that you can learn to transform your anxiety into productivity. You can healthily manage your anxiety, so it's not consuming you — so it's not overwhelming you, and ultimately not holding you back from your potential.
How make your anxiety better
It's totally possible to handle your anxiety by yourself — but way easier if you ask for help.
A counselor can help you see a perspective that anxiety actively tries to block. It's hard to see past the Venom without someone else helping you think of ideas. A counselor can be your sidekick.
Although we all are unique — and our experience of our anxiety is our's alone — there are some universal tricks to try to help.
A counselor can walk you safely through a process of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Hint, do you remember the end of that one Venom movie — (spoiler alert) he was kind of a good guy for a minute.
If seeking out a counselor feels too scary, that's understandable. Continue reading...
How to manage your anxiety on your own
First, it's important to know that no matter what, you CAN decrease your anxiety.
It takes effort, dedication and consistency, but you CAN change your experience of that parasitic feeling.
Just saying, "I can" can move mountains. You don't even have to believe it yet — just saying it helps. Wake up in the morning. Say "I can." Before you go to bed, say, "I can."
Second, change your goals.
The goal is NOT to rid yourself of anxiety.
Anxiety has a purpose, and everyone experiences it to some degree.
Anxiety helps keep us safe, directs our fight or flight response, and can bring interesting and alternative perspectives to myriad scenarios. Your goal is to manage the anxiety — not make it go away.
Third, do not assume you are the only anxious person around you.
Just as we all learn, love, and think differently, we also all hide our feelings differently — anxiety is not excluded.
Toss a pebble in the air — you're bound to hit someone else who feels anxious. They just might describe it differently.
Comparing your experience to others can be detrimental to your self-esteem. A deflated self-esteem is equivalent to a sad balloon at a birthday party. Don't be a sad balloon.
Fourth, accept that anxiety is something you will feel — and it’s okay.
It sounds so cliche, I know.
This is the most important component of tackling anxiety (remember, you only want to tackle it, not rid yourself of it).
Think about your anxiety - what good has it done for you?
It's so easy to see how it makes us uncomfortable, how it impacts our relationships, how it holds us back — but does it make you a little quirky? No - totally normal?
Okay, second idea — are you very organized? Does your worry about what others think of you motivate you to produce incredible results at work? Are you a deeply introspective person?
There are benefits to recognizing how your anxiety motivates your actions.
And there is great benefit in understanding that your anxiety is not always crippling you, but it has a strong motivating factor in your life. It's a part of you, and you can control how you feel about it.
Seeing the benefits, knowing that it's a part of you, is a great first step in controlling the power you let it have.
One of the most devilish aspects of anxiety is that seeking help can seem terrifying: you have to research counselors, call someone new, and then you have to trust that what you say stays within a confidential box. You have to trust that the helper actually wants to help. We don't live in a world that makes asking for help easy.
So, fifth, understand that you are NOT a burden.
Helping professionals want to help (surprise!).
Reach out to a counselor that you think you'd get along with.
Is their website cool? Does the description of how they counsel resonate with you? In your internet searches, use keywords like "anxiety" and "neurodiversity" and check out different websites to see if you might want to meet them.
Talk to your primary care physician or your friends to see if they have any personal recommendations.
Ultimately, find a person that you feel yourself with - where your anxiety can rear it's venom-y head, and your counselor (your sidekick) can help you put it where it belongs.
Our counselors can help you find resources that might work for you, or point you in a direction that might work best for you.