Thank You, Anxiety: The Phrase that Taught Me to Love Myself
Ever since I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, I have always perceived my anxiety as a bully and as my worst enemy. I hated that I struggled with anxiety and wanted nothing more than to get rid of it. Why wouldn't I? After all, my anxiety had stolen many opportunities and experiences I could have had if it hadn't made my day-to-day social interactions so tough. However, all of this changed when I learned to acknowledge the ways in which my anxiety has helped me and started expressing gratitude towards my anxiety.
How Practicing Gratitude Helps Me Cope with Anxiety
Being thankful for having an anxiety disorder might sound like a strange concept; however, it has helped me cope with anxiety. Here's how I did it:
- I thanked anxiety for helping me survive. While at therapy, I learned that anxiety is my body's survival mechanism. My therapist introduced me to a technique to help me deal with the self-hatred that comes from struggling with anxiety. I was to say, "Thank you, anxiety, for protecting me," as a way to acknowledge that anxiety exists to protect me. While this technique may or may not work for everyone (therapy techniques aren't one size fits all), it certainly does for me.
- I realized anxiety had equipped me with many skillsets that I'm grateful for. While my anxiety made me spend a lot of time locked up in my room, this taught me how to enjoy my own company. It taught me how to live alone and be independent--an important life skill I'm proud to have mastered. While my anxiety made me rehearse and re-rehearse my presentation and speeches months in advance, I did a great job at them because of all the practice I had. While my anxiety made me fear failure, this fear pushed me to work hard and taught me to give my best effort at everything I do. While my anxiety made me overthink my words a hundred times before I said them to someone, this made me a kind and considerate person who is always careful with their words.
- I realized that I would never get rid of anxiety completely and decided to make my peace with it. While at therapy, I learned that anxiety is my body's alarm system when it perceives danger. There is no way for me to get rid of my anxiety completely as it exists to protect me. Anxiety in a healthy amount is good, but when it starts to interfere with daily life, that's when it becomes an issue. While I can work on reducing the debilitating parts of anxiety through therapy, I cannot get rid of it altogether. Knowing this, I practice gratitude to help me make my peace with anxiety, as it will always be a part of me.
Don't get me wrong. While I do express gratitude for having anxiety and look at the bright sides of it, there are still days when I hate having anxiety. I have a love-hate relationship with anxiety. However, showing a bit of gratitude every now and then by saying, "Thank you, anxiety," helps me cope with it and helps me love myself a little more.
Dhar, S. (2022, May 3). Thank You, Anxiety: The Phrase that Taught Me to Love Myself, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/5/thank-you-anxiety-the-phrase-that-taught-me-to-love-myself