Have you ever noticed how anxiety can be a relentless storyteller? It seems like its chatting voice loves to weave a web of lies that makes us feel overwhelmed, out of control, and without hope. But thankfully, the lies anxiety tells you are just lies. They aren’t the truth. In fact, we can rewrite our story by building our resilience, self-compassion, and self-awareness. So, in this article, we’ll discover how to free ourselves from the web, reclaim control, and create a life anchored in the present moment.
6 Lies Anxiety Tells You and How to Overcome Them
1. Things will never get better
The feeling of forever is quite scary. Anxiety tends to make us feel that the overwhelming sensation of dread or discomfort will endure indefinitely, trapping us in a never-ending cycle of distress. But in reality, emotions are ever-changing. Nothing lasts forever. Like the seasons, our emotions, no matter how intense, will change and dissipate, eventually.
How to overcome it: It’s important to recognize that the “false permanent feeling” often intensifies because of our language and how our body responds to the stressor that triggered our anxiety. For example, we may even feed our anxiety by saying, “I’m always like this. I’ll never change”. But remember to monitor your language, connect to your body, and practice grounding techniques for anxiety to lower the intensity. Tools like focusing on an object with your senses, telling yourself, “This is my anxiety, and it’s temporary. I will soon feel better“, or rubbing your palms together will anchor you in the here and now.
2. Every sensation you feel is scary
A rapid heart rate must be an impending heart attack, right? A painful knot in your stomach is obviously appendicitis. These statements are often fears individuals grappling with health-related anxiety experience (psst… if this sounds like you, it’s possible to overcome health anxiety).
Their anxiety convinces them that every flutter, tingle, or source of pain is a cause of concern. But our bodies are intricate systems, and your anxiety is most often increased hypervigilance in disguise. You can feel and are attuned to everything moving and operating from within. Yet these sensations are a natural part of your being, and not every signal is a warning.
How to overcome it: Allow the sensations to come and go. Like passing clouds, feel them as they come in and observe them as they change. In fact, practicing a mindful technique like RAIN can help you process strange sensations and pain, and view them as natural and temporary.
- R: Recognize what is happening (I feel pain)
- A: Accept and allow the sensations you recognized to be there (It’s okay to feel how I feel)
- I: Investigate the present moment with kindness (Perhaps that pain is a part of my anxiety and not a signal that something is wrong)
- N: Non-identify with the pain and nurture your body (Go for a walk, take a deep breath in and out, eat a comforting meal, or watch a funny movie to boost your spirits)
Another helpful tip is to refrain from trying to self-diagnose. The urge to read every health website will only lead to heightened anxiety and panic. Instead, practice the meditation above and end with a nurturing activity or coping mechanism to soothe your stress.
3. You’re not enough
Our anxiety often whispers, “You’re not enough” when we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone or when we go after our dreams. Indeed, it’s the voice of our inner critic that chimes in to sabotage and undermine our self-worth to prevent us from moving forward. And once this lie starts, it can lead to a treacherous trail of comparison, productivity paralysis, self-sabotage and even depression.
How to overcome it: First, you must recognize this lie for what it is: a distorted perception rather than a reality. Next, challenge it with more rational thoughts to train your brain that it’s safe and capable of accomplishing goals and taking risks. For example, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way? And what am I afraid of?” Investigating it’s source will allow you to separate from your anxiety rather than letting it take you down a rabbit hole of painful thoughts and beliefs.
4. Overthinking and worrying is a great way to problem solve
One of the most deceitful and common lies anxiety tells you is that worrying is the only way to solve your problems. Unfortunately, this lie causes an endless cycle of rumination, falsely making you believe you’re somehow taking proactive steps to resolve the pain. But in reality, worrying can magnify the stress, stirring up more negative possibilities and painting the picture that the worst is already occurring.
How to overcome it: The key to countering this lie is acknowledging its deceit. For example, take a step back, bring your present attention to the overthinking, and take a deep breath. Overthinking can’t live in the present moment. So, practicing mindfulness activities, like smelling a strong aromatherapy scent like lavender or placing your hands in cold water, can stop the rumination. Additionally, remember that not all problems have immediate solutions, and that’s perfectly okay. Practice patience and self-care, allowing time for potential solutions to unfold naturally.
5. If you let go, everything bad I warned you about will happen
Anxiety loves to act as our guardian, diligently pointing out potential threats and urging us to prepare for them. But this nervous energy and incorrect ability to discern real threats from false ones is a result of faulty programming in our nervous system. It inaccurately triggers our fight-flight-freeze-or-fawn response to “protect us”.
How to overcome it: Pause and consider: how often do anxiety’s predictions materialize? How many hours have you worried about potential outcomes that never happened? The truth is anxiety, like everything in life, can’t foresee the future despite its claims to the contrary. So, when you hear this lie, learn how to challenge anxious thoughts by playing the “find the grey area” game. For example, look at your anxiety and find the middle ground between the extremes. If you can’t do this, make a plan to safeguard you in case the worst-case scenario you’re thinking will come true. It will make you feel more in control.
6. Anxiety is the key to success
Much like a relentless taskmaster, anxiety often convinces you that you need its control and pursuit of perfection to achieve. That without its iron grip, you’ll fail. However, while anxiety might provide an initial boost of motivation, it traps you in the past and future, leading to more errors and mistakes.
How to overcome it: As always, ask yourself where your desire for perfectionism stems from. Is there a hidden belief you’re not enough if you reduce your to-do list, learn how to delegate effectively, or allow yourself to fail? Remember, failure is a prerequisite to success. We can’t achieve our dreams if we don’t fail and grow. So, check in with yourself, increase your self-awareness towards this lie, and determine what matters most to you. Realigning your priorities will help you reduce your responsibilities to prevent burnout, ultimately increasing your quality of life and teaching you how to enjoy the present moment.
The lies anxiety tells you can be incredibly persuasive and painful, but they are just that—lies! Indeed, while anxiety tries to distort our perception, convincing us of worst-case scenarios, we can overcome its grip through self-awareness, coping mechanisms, and grace. You have the power to rewrite your narrative and live the life you deserve.
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