3 Sneaky Lies Anxiety Tells Us
Anxiety has a sly way of crawling into our brain space and making itself at home.
Some days, anxiety takes a back seat and lets us go about our day. Other days, it parks itself at the front and center of our mind.
If you experience anxiety, you’re likely very familiar with how annoying and unrelenting it can be. But did you know that anxiety is also a notorious liar? A very sneaky, skilled liar, at that.
Some of the thoughts that anxiety plants into our minds are obvious lies. For example: hitting some turbulence on the plane and thinking to yourself, “this is it. This is how it ends. This plane is going down for sure.” Or running a few minutes late for work and jumping to the thought, “I’m getting fired. I’ll be jobless and homeless within a month.”
In hindsight, we look back on these kinds of thoughts and we easily see how silly and irrational they are. However, some of anxiety’s irrational thoughts are not so easy to catch. Even the most rational, level-headed people can fall victim to the lies anxiety tells us.
Here are 3 sneaky lies anxiety tells us:
1. “I’m not good enough.”
In the years that I have spent one-on-one with clients as they hash out deeply ingrained thoughts about themselves, this thought is among the most common: “I’m not good enough.”
Many people who experience anxiety have a global belief that they just simply aren’t good enough. Not good enough at their job, not good enough for their partner, not good enough to get into grad school, not good enough to make quality friends . . .
The unfortunate thing about this thought is that it prevents us from doing the things we’re capable of doing. It holds us back from applying for that new job, from making new friends, from setting healthy boundaries, from living the life we’re worthy of. This thought holds us back in many ways.
If you’re reading this and realizing “hey, I think this all the time!”, please know that you’re not alone in having this false thought. Just because your mind is telling you this, does not mean that it’s true. Thoughts are not reality.
You are good enough.
2. “People don’t actually like me.”
This thought piggybacks off the previous “I’m not good enough” thought. It’s common for people with anxiety to have low self-esteem and low self-confidence due to thinking that they are unlikeable people.
“I’m so awkward,” “people think I’m annoying,” “there’s really nothing interesting about me,” “I’m not as fun and outgoing as so-and-so,” “if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.” Sound familiar? These are all-too-common false thoughts that anxiety loves telling us. These thoughts leave us feeling down on ourselves, and we end up holding back who we really are.
You are a likable person. You have unique qualities about yourself that others love and appreciate.
3. “Everything is about to fall apart.”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about 5 not-so-obvious signs of anxiety. One of those signs is “a constant feeling of dread” – a sinking feeling in your stomach and preparing for something really, really bad about to happen.
If you experience anxiety, you are likely very familiar with this feeling.
Maybe there are specific things that seem like they’re in a downward spiral, or perhaps you have an overall belief that you’re just not going to be okay. Regardless, people with anxiety frequently have this unsettling thought — the thought that everything is on the verge of falling apart.
Next time you find yourself thinking this, gently remind yourself, “I’m okay” and take things one day at a time (heck, even one minute at a time, if you have to).
It’s not always easy to recognize the lies anxiety tells us. In fact, I would argue it’s quite challenging. But with patience, self-compassion, and practice, we can improve our ability to “catch” these culprits and practice more rational, realistic self-talk.
Identifying and challenging negative automatic thoughts is a core component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been demonstrated by research as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. Feel free to read more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in St. Paul, MN, or if you’re ready to take the next step and see a therapist, feel free to read more about what it’s like working with me in therapy.
If you’re ready to get started, schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation with me so we can connect and see if we would be a good fit.