Anxiety is your Friend

How is anxiety your friend? If you have an exam, anxiety correctly senses the threat of failure and motivates you to study. In fact, with no anxiety, you might never amount to anything, because you would never be motivated to move forward in life. Anxiety is needed to effectively address problems in life.

Affirming Progress During Exposure

Exposure therapy is considered a standard of treatment for the anxiety disorders. Exposure is where the “rubber hits the road.” You can talk about your anxiety all day, but until you’re faced with the thing you fear, it’s just talk. But what happens when clients try to take on their anxiety and have to pull back or bail out? How do we frame that in order to support progress? The solution lies in affirming one's own attempts. Exposure therapy is a graded process. The process of self-labeling (e.g., "I am a failure," or "I will never recover") is ultimately self-defeating.

From Happiness to Meaning

When you’re suffering with anxiety, symptom reduction becomes the most important thing in your life. With the symptoms removed, you can finally be happy. From this perspective, happiness is what life is about, the reason why we exist. In fact, happiness is okay—I wouldn’t turn it down—but there's a danger when happiness is perceived as the whole point of life. That's because happiness takes us out of our journey. When you're happy, you're done. A better perspective considers life as a journey, whereby anxiety and suffering can be cultivated to achieve practical wisdom.

Anxiety is your Messenger

The first step in getting back to your journey in life is to change your understanding of the significance of anxiety. You might not believe it, but your anxiety is not just something that randomly happened. Your anxiety may well have some very personal message intended specifically FOR you. That message is probably unknown to you right now—you’re so turned inward, focused on surviving the symptoms and their impact on your life—but it is nevertheless a message of growth, one that begins by empowering yourself through your anxiety.