Things That Could Be Anxiety

I really appreciated this poster from Mental Health Matters Wales. While these troubles might have roots in other experiences and feelings too, it’s helpful for stimulating thought and discussion around our own unique experiences of anxiety.

We often talk about anxiety as if anxiety is a stable, homogenous experience and we might think we know what someone’s experience is if they tell us they’re having trouble with anxiety. But that label or even an official “diagnosis” of anxiety can sometimes serve to distance us from the unique experience and keep us from the resolution we wish for, because we often stop exploring and being curious once we arrive at a label or diagnosis.

Anxiety can be so different from one person to the next, and even in different relationships or circumstances of the same person’s life, and the things we do to cope with anxiety give it further masks too. What if we considered a word like “anxiety” to be just the beginning of a journey of exploring and discovering what’s happening for us, how we’re making meaning, what we’re doing with all of that experience and meaning, and how that’s affecting our lives?

When we get curious and much more specific about describing and hearing our experiences, we get closer to understanding our own or others’ experiences. There’s great comfort in that kind of understanding that then develops. And often a closer understanding also leads to new perspectives and ideas for dealing with difficult situations that are feeding our anxieties.

  • What are some of the thoughts and concerns that anxiety feeds you?
  • What are some of the other ways that you’ve noticed anxiety showing up?
  • What are some of the other things you do in order to cope with or try to avoid anxiety?