[Short] The wrong way to respond to anxiety

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We often think that anxiety itself is a problem, that the feeling is a source of suffering. But our biggest problem with anxiety is the way we respond to it. Anxiety manifests in the mind in such a powerful and attention-grabbing way – the sickening physiological response and the urgent thoughts – and we get the impression that a problem needs to be solved. We don’t question this urge. So we often react to anxiety with some sort of solving behaviour, a fight-or-flight response. We either try to fix/prevent the thing, or we try to run away from it. Sometimes “solving it” is just an insanity-provoking mental process with no measurable actions accompanying it. We go over and over some fictional scenario in our minds trying to figure it out, and die a thousand deaths while nothing bad even happens in the real world. And because we react to anxiety so quickly, we so often miss the possibility that doing nothing at all is the appropriate response! There are so many times where anxiety makes something look like a problem when it really just isn’t. Imagined future confrontations are not a problem. Possibly being broke one day is not a problem. The audience maybe not enjoying that video you might publish one day is not a problem. At least, they’re not problems that require any solution right now. So I often recommend that your first reaction to anxiety is do nothing at all, carry on with your life, and see if that “solves” it.

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One Response

  1. A question you can ask yourself when you’re anxious is, “What’s the healthiest, most value-based action I can take right now?” and try to do that rather than whatever the anxiety is asking you to do.

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