Generalized anxiety, panic, feeling a loss of control and the fear of the unknown can be terrifying experiences, especially if you’re facing it all on your own. Oftentimes anxiety is linked with the character trait of weakness, an inherent failure or flaw in one’s personality. With this notion, anxiety becomes something that needs to be hidden, suppressed, and dealt with behind closed doors.
Have you ever had any of these thoughts about your anxiety?
“I need to fight through my anxiety.”
“No one can know I am suffering from this.”
“I’m their Dad, I need to protect my kids and they can’t know I go through this.”
“What would my friends think of me?”
If our boss had a panic attack at work they would probably be faced with eye rolls, a sense of distrust and quite possibly, shame. The notion that we need to be strong and un-phased by stress and anxiety has led to an underlining concept of anxiety as a flaw. However, there is dignity in accepting our anxiety and there is true strength in allowing ourselves to know our struggles and work through them constructively, rather than fight and battle them.
If we take a mental assessment of the people in our lives we may notice that some of the best friends, family members and co-workers we have also experience anxiety. Here’s why:
Vulnerability as strength
In recent studies done on anxiety, there has been a link discovered between anxiety and vulnerability. Vulnerability, being capable of exposure to emotional wounds can sound terrible. Mainly because when we think of being vulnerable we think of some terrifying emotions such as shame and fear. Despite this, when we become vulnerable, that is when we allow ourselves to become open to growth, change, love, and ultimately, positive change.
An anxious person, fearful of the failure that might come, can often be a planner and a very good one. For example, if you’re fearful that a birthday party or an outdoor event might be ruined by rain you may be likely to develop a Plan B that will come to the rescue if this were to fall true. Therefore, if the negative were to happen, you have much less stress to deal with at the time of the event (1).
While those who suffer from anxiety may think they come across terribly, studies show that friends of those who suffer from anxiety are much more positive about their experience in the relationship (2).
You’re less likely to hurt someone else’s feelings when you’re hyper-aware of what someone else’s opinion or judgment may be on you. While taking the judgment or criticism from someone personally is not the goal, people who experience anxiety are mindful of the feelings and emotions of those around them and therefore, more likely to be mindful of their impact on one another.
Allow me to give you the permission to accept that it is OK you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone, you are not a failure, and it is all right to ask for help.
1. 6 Hidden Benefits of Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201701/6-hidden-benefits-anxiety
2. The 8 Most Unexpected Advantages of Anxiety. (2016, October 16). Retrieved from https://www.spring.org.uk/2014/12/the-8-most-unexpected-advantages-of-anxiety.php