If you woke up this morning with a fever you understand that fever is only the symptom of another problem. The fever is a warning that some bug is has invaded your body. The same thing is true for anxiety. Anxiety is the symptom of a healthy behavior that has become unhealthy.
The desire to prove you can complete a task is healthy behavior. Tens-of-millions of people around the world have the desire to prove their success just like you. All that’s required is having a challenging issue, developing a goal to solve the issue, and the energy to make it happen. Once you successfully meet the goal you have the feeling of accomplishment.
That, however, is not what happens when the “Desire” to prove yourself becomes the “Need” to prove yourself. The issue can be the same but that’s the only similarity. The driving force in the “Need” to prove is anxiety. What if I fail? What if I embarrass myself? What if I look foolish?” All of these questions produce anxiety. If the goal is achieved there is not the good feeling of accomplishment, but the feeling of it’s “never enough.”
If you are driven by the need to prove sooner or later the anxiety is going to be overwhelming. I worked with a leader in the mid-west who was experiencing overwhelming anxiety. No day was a good day for him. The anxiety became so overwhelming he literally thought he was going to die. He had purchased the company from a relative and felt the pressure to keep it successful.
When I first told him that his problem wasn’t anxiety but his behavior he didn’t believe me. All he wanted was the anxiety “fixed.” He finally realized how much pressure he was placing on himself over the seven years he owned the company. He finally came to realize that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how many successes, or how much money he made he was never going to prove himself. Another significant realization was that no one wanted him to prove he could be successful. The pressure all came from within himself.
The uncommon cure for anxiety has four parts:
Be aware that anxiety is not the problem, a behavior is the problem. Change the behavior and the anxiety goes away.
Develop a personal purpose statement that includes your gift, how you want to treat employees and what you want customers to experience.
Create 3 or 4 affirmations that define your success, for example, “I am a caring leader who…”
If you have been prescribed medication, ask your doctor how to slowly decrease the dosage.
When you feel anxiety coming on replace the feeling with one or all of your positive affirmations.
Once again, anxiety is always a healthy behavior that you are doing to an extreme. Create your own pathway and goals. Don’t be driven by what others think or tell you.
"Very helpful post especially for me as an Empath. I often get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that causes anxiety and stress and have found that positive affirmations and meditating help me immensely. I think I have so much anxiety because I think big and have big goals!. Thanks for this revelation. I appreciate this view on desire vs need. I'll try all of your steps!" - Petra Valica, Writer, Spiritual Seeker and Awareness Coach
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