If you have anxiety, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s not fun to deal with. Aside from being mentally draining, it can also cause uncomfortable physical symptoms like a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and choking—all things that can make your day-to-day difficult. But anytime you’re getting down on yourself, Maryellen Dance, a licensed mental health therapist, says there’s something very important to remember.
“It irks me to my bone when I hear people say ‘I’m an anxious person.’ No, you’re not an anxious person. You’re a human that has feelings, and one of those feelings is anxiety, and that’s okay,” she said in a webinar for Ten Spot. “You are not your anxiety.
Dance says anxiety is uncomfortable and no one wants to feel anxious. But just because those anxious thoughts have become normal to you doesn’t mean they’re part of who you are. When you get caught up in labeling yourself as an anxious person, nothing good will come out of it. You’re only going to make yourself feel worse.
“It’s so important to remember that anxiety is a feeling, and feelings come and go like waves. Sometimes they crash on us, sometimes you ride the wave,” she says. “Anxiety won’t last at high-intensity forever. And anxiety diagnoses are treatable. There’s a lot of evidence to treat anxiety, work on it, and to lessen it.”
So the next time you’re feeling down about your anxiety, try to reframe your brain and look at it in a different way. See it through a new lens. Of course that’s not always easy to do when you’re feeling incredibly bogged down with feelings that your anxiety will never go away, but Dance says having a little hope—and realizing those feelings won’t be there forever—can get you far.