Your Anxiety is Lying to You
Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve to live a great life?
Maybe you’re out running errands and you see people chatting with friends or laughing with their family. You start thinking that you’d love to have that, but as soon as that thought comes into your mind, it’s followed by one that says you don’t deserve it, that your friends don’t really like you or that your family puts up with you because they have to.
That’s your anxiety lying to you. You deserve to have friends. You deserve to have a family. You deserve to have a romantic relationship. You deserve to have a job you like that you’re good at. You deserve to have hobbies that bring you joy.
You deserve to live your best life. We all do. At the end of this post, I’ll show you a free resource that can help make it happen.
We’re All Insecure Sometimes
Sometimes we get an idea in our heads that our friends and family always have things together far more than we do. They know what they’re doing at work. They’re comfortable in social situations. They get all their bills paid on time, put away something for retirement, make their beds every morning, and fold fitted sheets perfectly the first time, every time.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to want people to think highly of us, so we present the best parts of ourselves to the world. We don’t tell our coworkers that we have three days worth of dishes in the sink, and we don’t tell customers that we’re new to the job and aren’t sure if we’re doing it right.
We like to look like we know what we’re doing, even when we don’t, but none of us have it all together. We’ve all got weaknesses, and we all want to hide them.
Social Media Makes it Worse
Social media enables us to connect with more people more often. That can be a great thing, but it’s often destructive. When you get home from a hard day at work to realize that you forgot to stop by the grocery store on the way home, is it helpful to see the fancy dinner your coworker made from scratch?
When you’re paying the bills and wondering where the money is going to come from, is it helpful to see pictures from your sister’s vacation?
When you’re struggling to deal with a terrible boss, is it helpful to see your childhood friend posting about a big promotion?
Of course not. Comparing yourself at your worst to your friends at their best is never going to make you feel good.
It can make you feel like your friends are better than you are, that they’re just putting up with you, and that they don’t really like you at all.
It’s All a Bunch of Lies
There are things your friends are better at than you, just like there are things you’re better at than your friends.
There are people in your social group who don’t care for you, just like there are people in your social group you don’t care for.
If you frequently feel like you’re not good enough to do the job, not attractive enough to find a partner, not funny enough or cool enough to make friends, it might be helpful for you to realize something. You’re not that special.
You’re just like everyone else. You have things you’re good at and things you’re bad at. Sometimes you’re going to do awkward things in social situations. You’re never going to be perfect and denying yourself time with your friends and family as a result is going to make you miserable.
You don’t deserve to be miserable. You deserve to be happy.
How Do We Fix It?
We can’t fix it until we recognize it for what it is.
When we have negative thoughts, sometimes our reptilian brain responds by ratcheting up the negativity. We get more anxious. We get more insecure. We think it’s stupid to be anxious about this. We think that we’re anxious about this because we’re not very good at it. We think that we’re clearly in over our heads and should probably forget about it entirely.
That’s how a nice lunch with a friend turns into a social nightmare.
But what is it?
It’s a habit. Your reptilian brain is acting out of habit, and if you’re going to live the kind of life you deserve to live, you’re going to have to re-train it. It doesn’t have to respond to anxiety with more anxiety. It doesn’t have to respond to insecurity with more insecurity.
It can respond to anxiety by realizing that the worst thing that can happen is a little embarrassment that you’ll get over. It can respond to insecurity by acknowledging that perfection is an impossible goal.
But you have to show it how.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Retraining your brain is exactly what Cognitive Behavior Therapy is all about.
It starts with Mindfulness. You can’t change what your brain is doing unless you’re aware of what your brain is doing. You have to observe the thoughts and feelings that come into your mind as well as how your body reacts to everything you experience.
It’s a tall task and not something you can do just by flipping a switch, but at the bottom of this post, I’ll have some resources for you.
When you’re observing your thoughts, you’ll want to keep an eye out for those that cause anxious reactions. Those are the ones that knock your brain into that accelerating spiral of bad feelings.
When you see one of them coming, you want to react to it consciously rather than letting habit take over. Instead of letting your brain process the thought as it normally does, try one of the techniques in the free e-book linked below.
As you work on these techniques, what you’ll find is that while the triggering events don’t happen any less often, you’ll respond to them more productively. You’ll acknowledge that you’re anxious, but you’ll meet your friend anyway. You’ll acknowledge that you’re nervous about a project, but you’ll accept that perfection is impossible. Slowly, you’ll retrain your brain to avoid that spiral of negative feelingsand you’ll be living a better life.