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8 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Struggling with Anxiety

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“Sometimes just being there is enough.” ~Unknown

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The floor could drop below us at any moment, as if someone was pressing my neck against the wall.

I’m talking about panic attacks, which have actually happened to me before.I pressed my neck against the wall. Growing up, I had a lot of those moments. It was a moment of physical and emotional danger.

Over the years, myriad experiences of not being able to let my guard down because it could hurt at any moment have strengthened me.

So I learned to be constantly anxious, always alert, always ready for threat.

I also learned to see small threats as big problems. This is another thing I learned as a child.

Naturally, I grew up to be an adult who snaps little things all the time.

Did you have bleach on your clothes for the interview? No one will hire me anymore!

doesn’t she want to be my friend? How come nobody loves me

Found a suspicious mass? i am going to die!

Now, the last one isn’t really a “little thing”, but the point is that I was always scared. There was

I believe my early experiences of being abused in various settings led to years of depression and anxiety. You or your loved one may have other causes.

Some people are genetically predisposed to anxiety, some struggle because of stressful situations, and others are affected by their physical condition.

But this is not a post about causes of anxiety.What is this post about no Say when someone panics.

Anxiety can completely overwhelm your mind and body, and you can often make the pain worse by being cruel to yourself in your head.

“Get it together!” we shout to ourselves. “Is something wrong? Why are you so confused?”

But none of these thoughts help. People who love us aren’t generally that cruel, but sometimes they say useless things just because they don’t know them well.

As someone who has experienced anxiety, I feel helpless to see someone suffer, so I have said some of the following things to others. It becomes difficult to think straight.

All you know is you want to fix it for them. But when you’re in fix mode, you can inadvertently add fuel to the fire despite your best intentions.

So, as someone who’s experienced both sides of the coin, I’d like to share some phrases to avoid when someone is dealing with anxiety, and offer a little insight as to what can actually help.

What not to say to someone who suffers from anxiety

1. Being stressed won’t matter after a year.

This is often the case. If someone is worried about a minor car accident, it’s very likely that what they’re emphasizing doesn’t matter much in the big picture. However, this is not a universal truth.

A minor accident can lead to major car trouble, resulting in lost jobs, lost paychecks, and eviction. And it can become very important in a year. Is this chain of events likely? No, it’s still possible.

It’s not reassuring to tell someone that the worst case scenario won’t happen. But more importantly, when someone is in the midst of anxiety, it can feel devastating and you can’t rationalize that feeling, at least not immediately.

No logic is needed when someone is panicking. Validation required. Yes, life is uncertain and we need validation that “bad” things will happen and validation that it’s okay to be afraid.

We also need to remind you to be safe at this time. And that’s all they need to think about now. It’s about breathing and grounding in this moment.

2. Life is too short to worry.

Because, in addition to what the person was stressing in the first place, you have to worry that you are missing out on life due to emotional reactions that are beyond your control.

Yes life is short. And it’s natural to want to make the most of it. But we don’t tell diabetics that life is too short to have too much sugar in their blood. Sure, you can encourage healthy eating choices, but you realize that this phrasing greatly simplifies the effort required to manage your condition and maintain healthy habits. I guess.

Anxiety is the same. Anyone who suffers from it understands that there is a better way to live, and this knowledge torments them.what they may not know how to help yourself.

3. Calm down.

“Settling down” is a goal, not an action step. It’s what everyone likes to do when they panic. It’s a shore in the distance, and it can feel miles away as we struggle to breathe and stay afloat in the waves of emotion.

If you know of any good ways to help you calm down, such as deep breathing exercises, please share them with us. But when someone is panicking, it’s best not to go into too much detail.

Imagine someone hanging off a cliff and about to fall into a tiger-filled pit. Anxiety is like that.

If you were to stand on the edge of a cliff and shout, “Come to yoga with me tomorrow! Did you know that yoga can help you?”

All they need to hear in that moment is, “Take my hand!” And the same applies to anxiety. hold their hands help them breathe Help them get back to that moment. And once they feel safe, it’s a good time to tell them what helped you.

This is also an important thing to remember. We all want to hear what has helped others cope, not what someone who has never experienced our struggles has read. Share your experience, not your expertise. No guru needed. I need friends who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.

4. No big deal.

This brings us back to our first point. that moment, feel like a big deal. Very big deal. It feels like the biggest, scariest, worst thing that could happen, and that fear can’t be turned off like a switch.

When someone says, “It’s not a big deal,” the anxious mind interprets this as, “You’re overreacting. This is further evidence that you are broken.”

Instead, say, “I know it’s hard. And scary. But you’re not alone. I’m here to help you get through this.”

It’s amazing how much it helps when someone emphasizes that it’s okay to be scared.

5. Everything is in your head.

Yes, all our thoughts and fears come from our heads, but that doesn’t make our emotions real. There is a defect in your head.”

When we contemplate anxious thoughts, all we need is a reminder that they often arise naturally. Don’t worry about changing them. Just practice embracing them and letting go of them as they arise.

Try this instead. If I were in your position, I’m sure I would think the same thing. Please let me know all your concerns if necessary. They are trying to protect you in their own way, so you may just need to listen to them.

6. Let go.

I have written many posts over the years that contain advice on letting go. I think it’s healthy to try to let go.

But I think letting go is something we might need to do repeatedly. .

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes: You should say “Let it be” instead of “Let it go”. “

What you need when you’re panicking is to give that emotion permission to exist. We need to give ourselves permission to be human beings who experience such emotions and that the people around us love us enough to accept us as we are. need to know

7. Things could get worse.

Yes, things can always get worse. We all know this. Like many statements on this list, this phrase does little beyond invoking guilt.

Now, on top of my initial fear, I worry that I’m not a good person because I can’t get rid of my anxiety with gratitude.

That’s not to say that putting things in perspective never helps, but when it comes from someone else, most of the time this sounds condescending. will be If you’re already embarrassed because of the struggle, as many people do, it’s even worse.

8. Stay positive.

Anxiety is not only negative. For many of us, like me, it’s a learned reaction from past trauma where we’ve always felt unsafe. You can minimize anxious thoughts by training your brain to be more optimistic. But this requires much more time, effort and support than the word “positively” conveys.

Also, “to be positive” suggests that “positive” is something one can become—Permanently— This ignores the reality that depression is inevitable in life. No one is always positive. Even people who appear to be so are often passive-aggressive in reality.

Phrases like “look at the bright side” and “look at the glass half full” can look incredibly patronizing when you’re hurting. They minimize how difficult it can be to look at the world optimistically, especially when you’ve experienced trauma.

Instead, show them what it looks like to be positive. Be loving, open, gentle, receptive, supportive, and present. While this probably won’t heal their struggles or erase their anxiety in moments of panic, it’s amazing how being a healthy mirror can have a positive impact on someone. That’s it.

After reading this list, you might think I’m suggesting that there is no cure for anxiety. We just need to help people accept it and get over it. But that’s not really my point.

We have tools to help people. You can find some of them here. (Personally, I recommend therapy, yoga, and meditation, as these three tools combine to help him better regulate his emotions.)

My point is, even when someone is making an effort to help themselves, it takes time and they may still be struggling.

We all do, even loved ones who try their best and have only the best intentions.

If you have said these things in the past, please know that I recognize that you are imperfect, just like we are. We also hope that you will read articles like this to deepen your understanding and support of us.

The world can be a scary place, but it feels a lot safer knowing that people like you care enough to help us.

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