“If you constantly tell yourself that your anxiety is “negative” or “bad,” is it any surprise that your urge to avoid it gets stronger and stronger, and as a result, the feeling itself bigger and bigger?” ~ Nick Wignall, clinical psychologist

Anxiety is a feeling – an uncomfortable feeling

Most people believe that because anxiety is uncomfortable, it’s bad. On some level, this makes sense because discomfort is often associated with negative things. The problem is that when you think or talk about anxiety as being bad or negative, you reinforce the belief you have, that anxiety is in some way dangerous, which is neither true nor helpful.

And, if you’re feeling anxious the belief that anxiety is bad or dangerous is likely to trigger even more anxiety.

However, when we feel anxious, we naturally want to get rid of the feeling. However, if we’re not careful, the ways we do this can create problems and even more anxiety and stress. For instance, trying to avoid or reduce anxiety by drinking to excess, taking recreational drugs, comfort eating, distracting yourself with reckless behavior, avoiding situations can all result in physical and/or emotional harm.

Our Innate Survival System

Anxiety is a key element of our innate survival system.

Our innate survival system enables us to identify and deal with risks (potential future threats) to our physical and/or emotional wellbeing. It’s a highly effective and reliable system that has been in development for hundreds of thousands of years. Its effectiveness is demonstrated by the fact humanity has survived where many other species have become extinct.

Anxiety has a good and positive purpose.

Anxiety – a feeling – is a signal/message, from your survival system that you are facing a risk to your physical and/or emotional wellbeing. The reason the signal feels uncomfortable is that your survival system needs to get your attention so that you take action to do something (if possible) about the identified risk. You may not have been consciously aware of the risk until the signal arrived or you have been aware of it but were ignoring it.

A couple of examples of how anxiety helps:

  • the anxiety you feel in relation to an upcoming job interview isn’t bad. Its purpose is to motivate you to act. To plan, practice and prepare for the interview so you can perform at your best.
  • the anxiety you feel in relation to the risk of getting COVID isn’t bad. Its purpose is to motivate you to act. To avoid getting the virus (e.g self-isolating, social distancing, wearing a mask, hand cleaning) and/or mitigate the impact (e.g. by getting vaccinated) should you get the virus.

Change your mind set about anxiety to help break the cycle of anxiety

One of the keys to managing anxiety is to stop labeling it as ‘negative’ or bad’ and to start thinking about it as being good and positive. Yes, anxiety is uncomfortable, often painful, sometimes debilitating but shifting the way you think about it, from negative to positive, can help break you out of the recurring cycle where believing anxiety is bad triggers even more anxiety.

Remember anxiety – the feeling – however uncomfortable, is your friend, not your enemy.

Need some help with your anxiety?

If you want to experience less anxiety in 2022 simply click this link https://bit.ly/3oNs4JE and book a free 30 min Zoom or phone chat with me, where you can explore what’s possible for you. Contact me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz.

I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz