Seeing the good in anxiety

A few weeks ago, I noticed my anxiety levels increased as I mentally prepared for an event. I had many “what if” anxious thoughts and found it difficult to self-soothe or believe that things will be okay. I struggled with being okay with the things I could not change and tried to remind myself of how fortunate I would be to experience the event. I also decided to come up with several “plan b” options in case any of the “what ifs” actually happened. While this took up a lot of emotional energy, I felt some comfort knowing that I had a plan – whether my plan would be successful didn’t matter. I just needed to know that I could create other options and that was enough for self-soothing.

As the days got closer to the event, I finally felt some ease and was able to extend grace to myself, saw the many reasons for gratitude, and realized that things would actually be okay! I still had some worry and anxiety, and I was able to put those worries into context based on the situation. I was more open to trusting the process and the experience.

It turned out that my anxious planning was necessary! One of the “what ifs” actually happened and instead of a significant increase in anxiety, I was able to put my plan into place! Since then, I’ve been thinking about the good things that came out of being anxious. It’s easier to focus on the negative aspects of anxiety and the ways the symptoms (which are quite valid and very real experiences) might negatively impact one’s quality of life. However, what about the ways that anxiety might serve a purpose? This isn’t the same as dismissing the negative impact – absolutely not. Instead, it’s a way to reflect and become friends with anxiety to discover any hidden lessons. Here are a few things I learned from this recent experience:

  • planning is one of my strengths: it’s okay to make several plans as long as the act of planning does not significantly disrupt my daily life
  • I genuinely care about the event: if I didn’t care as much as I did, I would not have been thinking of ways to ensure that it was a positive experience
  • I am open to other options: if I only focused on one outcome, then it would lead to more frustration and prevent me from seeing the bigger picture

Have you felt anxious recently? Did you learn anything about yourself from the anxiety?

~Karisse

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.” 

[ C. H. Spurgeon ]

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