Confusing Other Emotions for Anxiety
Do you often feel like you’re anxious all of the time? Like no matter what you do, you’re always caught in a loop of anxiety and panic? Sometimes when we feel emotions like being uncomfortable, vulnerable, scared, and even excited (yes, even excited!), our thoughts go straight to the familiar pathways that have been created in our brains. These pathways (your thoughts) stop us from acknowledging how we’re truly feeling, and often have us confusing other emotions for anxiety and panic.
Stick with me!
For me, it looked like this…
I feel uncomfortable/vulnerable/scared/excited → Oh no, I’m anxious → What if I have a panic attack → Cue more unproductive, unhealthy, and negative thoughts → Cue the symptoms → Panic attack
When in reality… I felt uncomfortable because I was in a new or unfamiliar place. I felt vulnerable because I was around someone that I didn’t know well. I felt scared because I was facing something that was genuinely scary, like starting college or a new job, doing something for the first time, or pushing myself to do something that caused me fear. I felt excited because I was experiencing something that excited me, like going on a trip, taking a hike, or trying a new sport.
I often convinced myself that I was anxious before I even gave myself a chance to recognize how I was actually feeling and why.
Let me give you an example! Any time I went somewhere new (and sometimes places I had only been once or twice), even if it was to go meet someone that I knew and felt comfortable with, I would feel scared. When in reality I wanted to go, and was even excited to go. And when I got there, I initially felt uncomfortable and vulnerable. Even though all of these emotions were to be expected given my introverted personality, I quickly convinced myself that I was anxious and was going to lose all control. Cue the panic!
Whenever I felt any emotion, the unproductive, unhealthy, and negative thoughts would start and I would convince myself that I was experiencing anxiety, which would inevitably lead to panic.
These unhealthy pathways are what causes anxiety and panic. They have been created over time, and they are what your brain is used to, but the good news is that you can undo these pathways by creating new and healthy ones that will help to eliminate anxiety and panic!
So how do you do this? Start by acknowledging how you feel and allow yourself to feel it, the true emotion you are feeling! Tell yourself:
I am feeling a little scared but I am safe and in control.
I am feeling excited but I am looking forward to doing this.
I am feeling uncomfortable but this feeling is temporary.
I am feeling vulnerable but I am safe.
Your reaction to your emotions is what will either cause anxiety, or allow you to feel your emotions and move forward.
And it’s okay to feel anxious!
When I say that you are capable of overcoming anxiety, I’m talking about the unhealthy and unproductive levels of anxiety that ultimately cause panic, symptoms, and pain. We all experience anxiety. Anxiety is a part of life, it comes in moments of uncertainty, stress, and big life events. Remember, it’s okay to feel anxious. But acknowledge and recognize your emotions for what they are and be mindful of your thoughts.
When you are feeling anxious, feel it. Then tell yourself:
I am feeling anxious but I will successfully work through this.
I am feeling anxious but I am in control.
I am feeling anxious but this is temporary.
I am feeling anxious but I am strong, brave, and capable.
You are capable of recognizing and acknowledging your emotions. You are capable of feeling them and not allowing them to cause you anxiety and panic. And you are capable of eliminating the unhealthy and unproductive pathways and creating healthy and productive ones.