What to Do When Anxiety Says You're a Failure

Anxiety loves to tell me I'm a failure. Have you ever felt a nagging feeling that you're simply not good enough no matter how hard you try or what you do? Do you ever compare yourself to others and feel like you come up short? Anxiety says you're a failure. It speaks through a critical little jerk lodged in your head telling you that whatever you're doing is wrong or terrible. It makes you overthink everything and gives you a running commentary while you're in the middle of doing something and long after you've finished. Why does anxiety say you're a failure, and what can you do about it?

Why Anxiety Says You're a Failure

Feeling like a failure seems to be a universal part of anxiety. Anxiety says you're a failure, so you worry about it, fear it, and thus find all sorts of reasons to back up what anxiety is telling you; this increases anxiety and, with it, a sense of failure and not being good enough. Anxiety has specific tricks for getting you to believe you're a failure. Anxiety takes control of your thinking and creates automatic negative thoughts (Cognitive Distortions and Self-Stigma) that stand between you and reality. To get you to believe you're not good enough, the little jerk anxiety speaks through causes you to engage in a few mind tricks. Discount the Positive. This is also known as yes-butting. If you do something well but focus on the one or two things that went wrong, giving those the most attention, you're discounting the positive. Yes, you did something well. Then anxiety tells you "but..." and you feel like you're not good enough. Mind-read and Compare. We can't know what others are thinking, but anxiety tries to do just that. It says that others are disappointed or annoyed with us, and we believe it. Anxiety's jerk-voice also constantly compares us to others and points out ways we fall short. Distort Reality. Anxiety puts far too much focus on what you're doing wrong, and it emphasizes mistakes both real and imagined. This is accomplished in part by discounting the positive and yes-butting away successes. Catastrophize. Anxiety makes mountains out of molehills, causing worry, fear, and panic. This fuels both more anxiety and the feeling that you're not good enough.

How to Respond When Anxiety Says You're Not Good Enough

With anxiety, our thoughts aren't always trustworthy. It's possible to step away when anxiety tells you you're not good enough. One of the most effective ways to get anxiety to stop saying you're a failure is to take control of your perspective. How you interpret your reality affects both your anxiety level and how you see yourself. Don't let anxiety tell you how you're doing in your own life. You have the ability to think for yourself and question what anxiety tells you. You can tune into the below video for a look at how perspective can muffle anxiety when it says you're a failure. Let's connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here. (Image is a likeness of me created in the Bitmoji App.)

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, September 29). What to Do When Anxiety Says You're a Failure, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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