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10 Insider Secrets From Someone Who Is Really Freaking Anxious

No offense, but your anxiety is a big fat liar.

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Anxiety can distort the way you see the world around you, interact with others, and feel about yourself.

Photo by Octavian Rosca on Unsplash /

Whether you're feeling temporarily anxious or you have a diagnosed disorder, when anxiety has its grips on you, it's easy to believe the lies it tells you. And if you're anything like me, those lies — that I'm completely inept at being a human, that everything is going to go wrong all the time, that I'm not good enough — get under my skin and I spiral.

1. People don't pay attention to you as much as you think you do.

@prophetremy / Via Twitter: @vaIentinescurse

Listen, most people are self-centered. That might sound disheartening, but it can actually be the most comforting truth in the world. At any given moment, it's almost guaranteed that the people around you are caught up in their own thoughts, their own problems, their own drama, and their own anxiety. They do *not* have the time or energy to judge you as much as you worry they are.


2. Hard, anxiety-inducing things get easier the more you do them.

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I know it can be so tempting to hide and avoid things that you know make you anxious, because it's pretty impossible to remember in those stressful moments that it won't last forever. But it won't.

Truth is — and therapists have backed me up on this — you get better and stronger every time you do something that you thought you couldn't. You're basically investing anxiety in a calmer future, experiencing anxiety today so the next class, the next phone call, the next date, will feel a little easier.

3. You are allowed to celebrate little victories.

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Some days, though, you're not going to be able to push yourself to do those anxiety-inducing things. And that's okay too. For me, anxiety has always been a one step forward, two steps back thing. For every irrational panic spiral I'm able to talk myself through, there will be days when I cancel plans and drown myself in worst-case scenarios.

On those days, victory is getting out of bed or dragging myself for a walk around the block to get some air or taking my medication. You just can't judge yourself by the same criteria on bad days as you do on good days.

4. Your friends love you more than your anxiety will let you see. / Via Twitter: @coolstinkygirl

What anxious person hasn't been struck by the irrational, awful conviction that our friends secretly hate us — or at best are only tolerating our company? Anxiety is really good at needling at you, clouding you with doubt about your relationships and making you prime yourself for rejection.

But listen: Your friendships are probably stronger than you think.

One study actually found that people with social anxiety had distorted views of their friendships; where they rated the strength of their relationships poorly, their friends valued them as close friends. Even if you don't have social anxiety, anxiety can make you underestimate your importance — so take the time to remind yourself often that it's wrong.

5. Your anxiety makes you hold yourself to unrealistic standards. You don't have to reach anxiety-zero.

@trill_linaa / Via Facebook: BuzzfeedCommunity

When anxiety is such a big part of your life and you want to get better, you can fall into the trap of having super-inflated expectations. You think that the goal is to overcome it completely — and forget that some anxiety is completely healthy and human.

So rather than putting all this pressure on yourself to vanquish anxiety so you can become this idealized unanxious version of yourself, be kind and set some more realistic expectations. AKA, learning how to be able to do things despite your anxiety and showing yourself you can be the person you want to be *while* you feel anxious.


6. The goal of every social interaction isn't to gain approval, so don't let anxiety convince you that you have to be everything for everyone.

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I'm guilty of equating "successful" social interactions with making people like me, and because of that, more often than not, I walk away from every conversation feeling like I've failed miserably somehow.

One thing that has helped a ton is reminding myself that the end goal of meeting somebody is not to gain their approval. There are a lot of people in the world, and you're not going to be for everyone! Interactions with new people are not auditions; they're bidirectional assessments where you get to ask, "Is this person for me? Do I want to cultivate a further connection here?"

7. Your anxiety sets you on a path of self-fulfilling prophecy and you're absolutely allowed to say fuck you to that.

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Here's the thing about anxiety: When it's whispering in your ear and you believe it, you can get stuck in a very sticky cycle.

Personal example of a cycle I get stuck in all the time: My anxiety tells me that I'm a social disaster and that no one wants to hang out with me. When I listen to it, I isolate myself. Then people eventually stop reaching out to me because I'm being all weird and closed off. And then I'm like, "Look! Concrete evidence that my anxiety was right! Everyone hates me!"

Self-fulfilling prophecies are anxiety's deadliest weapons because they make you believe that it's all your fault. Instead, just to see what happens, remind yourself that your anxiety is a lying douchebag, and set out to prove it wrong. You'll prooobably start putting out vibes that attract better results and grow more confident in the process.

8. You're capable of making decisions based on wants instead of fears.

Everyone makes fear-based choices, especially when you deal with anxiety. An old therapist of mine used to say, "Think about what you want and whether that is more important to you than what you're afraid of."

Sometimes, I have to give myself a little pep talk before turning down the things that my brain flags as an automatic no thanks to my anxiety. After reflecting, I tell myself yes, it makes me anxious, but yes, I want it and can do it because I'd probably regret not doing it more.

9. Okay-case scenarios happen a lot more often than worst-case and best-case scenarios.

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A chronic catastrophic thinker, I once received the advice to consider best-case scenarios as much as worst-case scenarios. And frankly, that didn't help me at all because I'm a stubborn anxious cynic. What was more helpful was walking through the most mundane, realistic outcomes I could think of. It always dampens the worst-case scenario into submission.

10. You deserve to create your own support system.

Anna Borges / BuzzFeed / Via

It took me too long to assemble an anxiety survival kit. But when I did, on top of lorazepam, my Bath & Body Works stress relief candle, and my cats, the most invaluable additions were the people I let in to help me.

A trusted therapist. Friends who I taught little ways to help me. Coworkers who understood my limitations, but who would gently push and encourage me when needed. Group chats that doubled as emotional support groups for the occasional communal anxiety meltdown.

I'm sure you've been told that you don't have to deal alone, but it bears repeating. Being vulnerable is scary, but anxiety multiples in solitude and you deserve the help.

By the way: If you're not already, you might want to look into ways to take care of yourself. SO, here are some quick resources:

• You can learn more about starting therapy here, since pretty much everyone can benefit from talking to a professional.

• You can learn more about anxiety disorders here.

Here are little ways to be less anxious in general and here are some self-care tips.

• And if you need to talk to someone immediately, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. A list of international suicide hotlines can be found here.

What lessons have you learned about your own anxiety that changed the game for you?