Header photo by Artem Kovalev
Good!? Excuse me? Have you gone out of your mind? I can accept that there might be a couple of benefits to having anxiety, like being more protective and analytical, but inherently good? Don’t think so. Anxiety while being young is a curse, that’s what it is.
I get you. Really. I’ve been in the exact same position you’re in right now. But I overcame anxiety. And looking back, I’m very happy to have had it. It empowered me. Really. Let me explain you why and show you how to start making changes yourself.
Don’t shoot the messenger
Look, It’s no fun. The mental unrest, the physical nervousness, the effects on your young social life, anxiety is without a doubt a shitty experience in many ways. But there’s a reason for that. Your body and mind are trying to tell you something. “Hey you, something’s wrong! What are you going to about it?”
The point is, anxiety is a wake-up call. It’s a guide telling you that you are going down the wrong path. Honestly, would you be anxious if you’re in great health while having an amazing life? Nope, I don’t think so. Something is wrong. Maybe it’s your study, work, friends, family, health, mindset on life, whatever. It’s time for you to start figuring that out.
Realize that anxiety is just a messenger saying you need change. I know, it’s bringing that message in a harsh way, but sometimes that’s needed for stubborn or unconscious people.
So, do you really want to feel hopeless or frustrated about your anxiety? Why not see it as a good friend who is just giving you some tough love.
You’ll be better than before
In the short term, it might be hard to believe that anxiety is actually good. However, when you look at it in the long term, it becomes very clear that it can be beneficial at a young age. To explain this better, let me visualize how anxiety helped me a lot in my life, just to make my point here.
I know I’m not being very scientifical over here, but simplicity makes things easy to understand. It’s a bit oversimplified, but this is how anxiety/happiness evolved for me.
Now, the key takeaway here is that anxiety triggered me to learn about myself, providing me with lots of self-knowledge and consciousness at quite a young age. Because of that, I was able to grow faster personally when I was young. And I feel I’m already a happier version of myself. I don’t think I would have been where I am now should I not have had anxiety.
Look, you don’t forget the things you learn from anxiety once you overcome it. You won’t go back to simply being the “same you”. To some level, it’s always a life-changing experience. For some people, it might take years to actually overcome anxiety, but when they do, they never stop there. The characteristics you obtain to overcome anxiety are characteristics you can use to keep growing for the rest of your life. So be happy to obtain them at a young age. The younger you have them, the more you can use and enjoy them.
The good benefits
So what type of “characteristics” am I talking about? Here is a short list of things I developed thanks to my experience with anxiety:
- Having more consciousness and clarity when making decisions
- Getting more fulfillment from the things you do
- Feeling more inner stability, calmth and confidence
- Having more patience, peace, and relaxation
- Being more grateful for the things you have
I don’t think I need to explain to you that these traits help to fight anxiety, do I? Let me know if you can relate to this in the comments. If you have other things you learned from anxiety, I’d be interested to hear about it.
What can you do now?
Now, understanding all of this is easy, right? But what now? You’re just telling me to just to accept it all, wait it out, and act happy? Not at all. Although developing patience will help a lot, you should take action. Let me give you three action points based on what we’ve learned here.
#1 Change your mindset for the good
First off, change your mindset. This is basically the whole point of this post. Anxiety is here for a good reason. It wants you to become a better version of yourself. Learn to see anxiety as something useful, as a guiding friend, an opportunity to learn about yourself at a young age.
An easy way to start changing your mindset is by building what I call “mindshift triggers”. Here’s how they work:
- Build the trigger
- Write down a couple of negative thoughts you usually have about anxiety.
- Memorize them well, and tell your mind to be aware of them.
- Now, every time you catch yourself thinking these thoughts, stop yourself.
- Make the mindshift
- Use a counter-logic to break down that thought and put a good one in its place.
- This can be based on a good article, a motivational quote, the logic I described here or something your therapist explained you.
- Use something that makes sense to you and makes you feel positive.
- Keep repeating until it becomes the usual way of thinking
What you are actually doing is reprogramming your unconscious mind. By repeatedly and consciously taking the time to re-route your thought patterns, your subconscious mind will start to change. After a while, you will automatically get more positive thoughts and find it easier to ease down negative feelings. These mind triggers can be used for changing all sorts of thoughts patterns. We talk more about this in our free e-book.
#2 Explore yourself and your anxiety
I think you understand by now that anxiety is just here to make a change. So start doing that. Begin by finding out what is precisely going wrong right now. In many cases, young people are very unaware of what is wrong in their life. They don’t know where anxiety is coming from. They’re very unhappy or unhealthy but have become very good at ignoring it.
Very simply put, you need to start training your self-awareness. Become conscious of how your lifestyle and eating habits are affecting you, what goes on in that mind of yours and have a good look at your current life direction. Practice meditation, start watching health documentaries, see a therapist and talk honestly with a good life-coach or friend. Look at it as a joyful learning experience where you are re-discovering yourself.
I’m kind of curious to know what you are all doing to explore your anxiety. Let me know in the comments below. I really think everyone has interesting perspectives on this. You might be helping someone else out as well.
#3 Track your progress
This a very important one, we talk about this in more detail in our free e-book. As you probably know, overcoming anxiety is a slow, step-by-step process. Therefore, it’s often difficult to see the progress you are making. If you don’t want to lose motivation, it’s best that you track your progress, so you can see changes in the long term.
Listen. Just do this! It sounds boring, but it could literally save you years of suffering. You will need to make a journal, which you fill out at the end of every day. This way, when feeling demotivated, you can refer back to a couple of weeks or months ago and remember how you felt then. Bam! Suddenly it will be clear that you have definitely been making progress.
Here’s a template of what my diary looks like. (Pen an paper is the best by the way!)
If you have some more ideas for a journal, definitely let me know in the comments below.
Although you and your anxiety might not be best friends at the moment, realize that it’s here to make things better. Shifting your mindset on this will alleviate anxiety massively, and make the process of overcoming it easier. You need to be able to look at the long-term benefit of anxiety instead of short-term pains.
There are a couple of things you can do to feel changes in the short term as well. Firstly, start to actively change your mindset by building “midshift triggers”. Also, embrace the fact that this is a learning experience and start exploring yourself and your anxiety with curiosity. Lastly, track your progress in a journal. This way you can fight demotivation by seeing the progress you have made over the long term.
If you’re on your journey of overcoming anxiety, I really recommend you to check our free e-book, it gives clear guidance and structure on how to tackle the process of overcoming anxiety. Also, we review the best online anxiety programs so you can find the one that suits you best. I’ve personally had great help myself from following a program called Panic Away.
To finish up, don’t forget: “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. Keep up the positivity.