In this podcast episode, I want to talk about some of the tough emotions that might accompany an anxiety disorder. And I want to talk about this stuff because I know how isolating this journey can be, and how hard it can feel to carry these things alone.
Feeling Anger, Sadness, Frustration and Shame for How Anxiety Has Affected You and Your Life
The Tough Emotions That Come With Anxiety
Anxiety can lead to many tricky emotions like anger, sadness, and frustration to name a few. You might feel these emotions for lots of different reasons, so let’s talk about some of them!
You might be feeling anger, sadness, or frustration because…
You feel like there’s so much you’ve lost because of your struggles with anxiety
Reflecting on how much time has passed since you’ve been struggling
Feeling like you’re disappointing others because you’re struggling
Wishing for your old life or a time when you weren’t struggling as much
Not being able to do what you want and live how you want to because of anxiety
If you’re feeling anger, sadness, frustration, or any other tricky emotions because of any of these things, I want you to hear me… Of course you feel these things! You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. It’s so normal to feel these things! And it’s so important to let yourself feel what you feel.
One of the toughest things so many people struggle with when they're working to heal from anything is shame. And it’s often something that people don’t even recognize they’re struggling with. But when I work with clients and especially students in my Panic to Peace program, we often uncover that shame is a big piece that we need to work through.
So what is shame? Well, one of my favorite researchers, writers, and overall human, Brene Brown, defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. We feel like something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. Shame often leaves us feeling immobilized, or worse, feeling ready to strike out as a way of offloading the pain of disconnection.”
You might feel…
Shame that you’re struggling
Shame about what your life currently looks like
Shame about what you’re unable to do right now
Shame for what you’ve missed out on
Shame for how your struggles are impacting others
And shame can often look like…
“I suck. I’m a terrible person. I’m not capable.”
“I can’t do it. I’m a failure.”
“I’m always going to be this person.”
“I’m a terrible partner, parent, etc.”
Shame can be one of the most damaging things because it attacks you and who you are! It’s so important to recognize that your relationship with shame is hugely impacting your journey with anxiety, and your relationship with yourself! Shame shapes so many of your choices and interactions. It can create lots of fear and often leaves you feeling trapped, isolated, and powerless. I want to share some tips to help you start working with the shame you might be experiencing.
A few tips for navigating shame…
Recognize it, label the emotion you're feeling. Be aware of when it’s present.
Try to resist pushing it away or trying to bury it. Instead, start practicing ackowledging it and letting yourself feel it. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel it (Because it is!).
Speak the thoughts and feelings out loud. Write them down and share them. Shame gets its power from trying to be suppressed and silenced.
Release it! Tell shame that you won’t allow it to hold space in your mind. This might look like changing the stories you’re telling yourself.
Most importantly… lots of self-compassion!
Changing the Stories We Tell Ourselves
I want you to remember that it’s okay to struggle. Every human has struggles, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of! Most often, the negative stories we tell ourselves contribute to the tricky feelings we might have during anxiety recovery. These stories can make anxiety recovery much more difficult than it needs to be. So I want to share some ways that you can change the stories you tell yourself!
Tips for changing the unhelpful stories…
It’s okay that your life has looked how it has, and it’s okay that it looks how it does right now. It won’t always be filled with anxiety like it is now. Don’t overlook how goodness continues to show up, even when anxiety is present.
It’s okay if you’re not able to do certain things right now, and that doesn’t make you a failure. You have made progress and will continue to make progress. Ask yourself…what’s a small step I can take to move closer to my goal today?
It’s okay if you’ve missed out on some things. You can’t change the past, but you can take healthy action today so that you don’t continue to miss out.
It’s okay if your struggles have impacted others. I’m sure you can think of ways that other people’s struggles have impacted yours. Do you resent them or wish the relationship didn’t exist because of it? I doubt it!
You might be able to see what I’m doing in these examples… I’m using awareness and lots of self-compassion to change these stories. Because here’s the truth… you’re one heck of an amazing person, anxiety and all. And I’m so proud of the work that you’re doing!
And here's something I told myself often when I was working to recover that helped me a ton: Just because you feel it doesn't mean it fits. You've got to let yourself feel the shame, but just because you feel it doesn't mean it fits. It doesn’t mean it holds a place or serves a purpose. Let yourself feel all of the emotions, including shame. Allow yourself to face it and stop carrying it. You have to cultivate acceptance for what was, and what is so that you can allow yourself to change.
Tricky emotions, shame, and embarrassment are all things we work through in my 10-week program, Panic to Peace. The doors for my signature program will be opening again in January! You can join the waiting list for early access and a special discount. Until next time, friend, keep taking healthy action!