My anxiety is selfish

A relationship has changed; it must be my fault. I missed out on an opportunity; it must be my fault. They didn’t laugh at my joke; it must be my fault.

What did I do?

My anxiety sees me as having some incredible control over the world around me.

I was speaking today with my psychologist about the way my brain is programmed to respond to change and uncertainty. I am constantly seeking to understand how I have had an impact and how I might do better.

Usually, these are the kinds of impulses that make me a better, more empathetic person. But when anxiety is driving, I don’t process the world logically. I spend so much time in my own head fundamentally obsessing over myself and my behaviours. (I still obsess over things I said in interviews 10 years ago!)

Another impact is that I’m constantly seeking external assurance I’m doing OK. When I don’t feel safe in myself, my brain leaps in to fill the gaps. Suspense, surprise, needing to know.

I think one of the reasons that my work is so important to me is achievements provide that external validation, it’s something I can point to that ‘fills in the gap’ between my goal and the certainty that I have achieved it.

Because I impact the world so much, it’s important that I’m perfect all the time. But that way lies unhappiness.

When my anxiety takes a back seat, perfectionism does too. It’s much easier for me to know in myself that I’m pretty much an OK person.

Image credit – @bethdrawsthings on Instagram

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