For years, my anxiety has been afraid that “I did something wrong” and “that person is mad at me.” I could unpack the reasons why, but for today I’ll just leave it at this…
Sometimes my anxiety has been RIGHT.
Sometimes the thing I am so anxious about actually happens.
SOMETIMES THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!
This is why telling ourselves that “nobody is mad at me” or “I didn’t do anything wrong” can’t be the only way we process feelings of fear or worry. It can’t be our only coping mechanism. Because sometimes, that’s just not true.
Sometimes your anxiety is right!
For most of my adult life, I have not enjoyed hosting parties. And, there is a very good reason why. When you host, it means that you know just about every person in attendance. There are so many people to interact with that it is hard to have any kind of meaningful connection or conversation with anyone. You have to quickly say hi to everyone and then, before you know it, it’s time to say goodbye!
This means that at the end of every party I hosted, I was overcome with a feeling of being rude. I was overcome with the anxiety that “I did something wrong” and “someone is mad at me.”
Many years ago, Tim and I hosted a fall party. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a party celebrating the best season ever, FALL.
And, after this party, I made him listen to me recount many different interactions with many different people while I asked, “Do you think they are mad at me?”
“NO. Nobody is mad at you.” He assured me.
Well, guess what? Tim was wrong.
My anxiety was right!!
Because years later, I opened up my DMs and a person who had been at that fall party wrote me a lengthy message sharing that I had made them feel unwelcome at my house.
All of the hypervigilance in the world (and trust me, I gave it all the hypervigilance in the world) couldn’t save me. The scenario that I had tried to avoid like the plague had officially happened.
In someone’s eyes, I had done something wrong and yes, they had been upset with me. And, they had thought about it for years.
My anxiety had been right and, in a shocking turn of events, it was actually this moment that I realized I couldn’t let my anxiety be the thing that dictated how I lived my life anymore.
“What if I spent a fraction of the energy I used trying to avoid this moment to build up the resilience to be able to actually navigate these moments when they inevitably happen?”
Even when we do our best, even when we try our hardest, we will make mistakes. People will be disappointed in us. Balls will get dropped. Our intentions will be misinterpreted. Some people just won’t like us (no matter what we do). And the list goes on! Because no matter what, we will still be human and the people we will interact with will also be human. This means that sometimes what our inner critic says or what our anxiety fears may actually be true.
But there is some GOOD NEWS!
Rather than doing everything we can to avoid the uncomfortable moments (people pleasing, perfectionism, distracting with body/food/exercise obsession, and more), we can learn how to navigate them with self-connection, trust, and compassion.
While every tough “my anxiety was right!” situation is unique, there is a non-self-bashing path forward for each one of us.
You are worthy of that!