When you think of anxiety and how it sneaks up on you sometimes, it’s easy to become afraid of it. You wonder when the next anxiety attack will happen or if you’re ever going to be able to break the thought patterns that have caused you to spiral in the first place. But, if you dig deep down and discover what you’re actually overthinking about, the things that you are scared of, you can reason with them. You can regain perspective on them.
At first, your anxiety might seem like some sort of terrible monster who has come to destroy your life, with fangs and claws that it’ll use to eat away at you from the inside out. It’s foreign; it’s terrifying; it’s something that you want to avoid at all costs.
But, if you sit with it for a little while, it becomes more of a visit from an unwanted, distant relative—maybe an aunt. We know who she is and what she likes to gravitate towards when you’re in conversation with her. Perhaps she’ll start by asking you how things are with your significant other and if you know that most relationships don’t last nowadays. If you don’t interrupt them, her negativity only persists and festers in your mind like cockroaches in a public pool locker room. Hopefully, none of you have heard this from an actual relative, but maybe it’ll ask you something along the lines of what if you’re not good enough to be in your current position? What if people start to perceive you as an anxious person again? Do you think they’ll leave? Oh, but don’t worry if they do, dear. Auntie Anxiety will never abandon you.
The trick is to stop her before she starts spinning lies into truths, and you start believing her. Perhaps you’ve spent enough time with her to notice the things that keep her quiet. Maybe she likes a cup of warm herbal tea, some yoga to refresh her body and spirit, or a 10-20 minute meditation to sit with the uncomfortable thoughts before she starts putting them in your head and makes you think that they’ll be willed into existence.
When you have calmed her down and given her time to iron out her thoughts, it no longer seems that she’s here to attack you. On the contrary, you realize that she thinks she is protecting you by preparing you for the worst. That’s when you need to place your hand gently on hers, let her know that you have heard what she has to say, that you appreciate her concern, but that thinking about what might happen to affect you in the future negatively isn’t serving you and that you’re okay in this moment.
Only when you start to live with her in the moment does she realize that it’s time for her to go, that she’s not needed there. She might be back for another visit in the future. You are related, after all. But, when she does come back, you’ll be better equipped to be in control of your interactions with her and stand your ground with the knowledge that in the grand scheme of things, what she has to say does not affect you.