For most people, anxiety is a mountain. Conquer it. Master it. Go past it. For me, anxiety is a lake. Look at it. Understand what’s underneath it. And appreciate it.
When you see anxiety as a mountain, you fight. It’s an emotion you need to eliminate. When you see anxiety as a lake, you accept. It’s an emotion you choose to embrace.
This is an oversimplification of reality, of course. There are times you need to address your anxiety head-on. But without acceptance, you don’t have the foundation to work on your anxiety.
“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…. And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self.”~ Søren Kierkegaard
For years I tried climbing the mountain of anxiety… and I failed.
No matter how hard I tried, the mountain was — has always been — greater than my strength.
So I transformed the mountain into a lake. Then, I sat beside the lake and looked at my own reflection. And I saw myself clearer than ever. The mirror image of myself was one of many emotions…
The fear of rejection. The sadness of disconnection. The desire for meaningful relationships.
I started understanding and appreciating the magic of my anxiety. It might be strange to describe anxiety as magical, but there’s no better word… for it made me a kinder, more loving and compassionate being in the following ways.
5 Staggering Ways Anxiety Can Help You Become a Kinder and More Loving Being
1. I’m more sensitive to other people’s emotions.
While anxiety leads to hypervigilance — I’m overly alert and guarded in such situations — anxiety does help me become more attuned to what others feel and think. As I’m more mindful of their tone of voice or body language, I can respond with more relevant questions and comments.
2. I’m more empathetic to my friend/partner’s struggles.
It’s hard to describe anxiety to someone who doesn’t have it. It’s like explaining what it feels like to travel to a foreign country. If you haven’t experienced anxiety, you won’t really get it (nothing wrong with that, of course.) When a loved one experiences anxiety — or a related mental health condition — I’m able to relate and empathize right away.
3. I’m better able to support others through their anxiety.
With enough therapy, meditation, and learning, I’m grateful to have a “toolbox” of proven techniques to ease my anxiety. This allows me to provide precise, helpful suggestions, rather than generic and worse still harmful advice that you see in self-help books.
4. I’m a much better texter than I was years back.
When anxiety had its tight grip on my life, I resorted to texting in order to connect with new friends and romantic interests. Over time, I mastered the art of texting — yes, with all the cute emojis you can think of — which turned out to be crucial in the early days of dating.
5. I’m more aware of what I truly care about.
Going back to what I said much earlier…
My anxiety has been a signal of a deeper emotional need. For example, if I feel anxiety about how my first date perceives me, it’s because of my need to be acknowledged and loved. By accepting it and getting curious about it, I usually find its source, which helps me understand myself better. As Pema Chodron said: “…studying ourselves provides all the books we need.”