One of my friends recently experienced sudden bouts of anxiety. Since he knew I’ve been there too, he asked me: “How do you deal with anxiety?”
That’s a good question. In the past, I looked for ways to “get over” or “beat” anxiety. I was looking for a cure.
After reading dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the subject, I’ve found the answer: Anxiety can’t be cured. It must be dealt with.
Dealing with anxiety is an ongoing battle for most of us. It’s not a game or tournament. It’s not like you can beat anxiety once and be over with it forever.
Too often, people say they have “beaten” anxiety. I don’t buy that. The only way you can truly beat anxiety is if you hide from life’s hardship.
Dealing with criticism, hate, and negativity
Last month, my articles were read by more than a million people. Naturally, my content also gets attention from people who don’t like it. And some of those folks take the time to share their opinion.
I have no problem with that. The internet is a free place and everyone can say what they want. Most people are civil about their criticism. But sometimes, I get hateful messages.
Most writers and content creators don’t like that. Initially, I also didn’t like it when people criticized my stuff. “If you don’t like it, why read it?” Is what I thought to myself.
But as I got these hateful messages more often, I saw an opportunity. When someone criticizes you, you feel disturbed and maybe even anxious. It’s not a fun feeling. I’d rather read an email from a reader who made a big change to his or her life after reading an article.
Fortunately, that also happens. But I’ve also learned to like the hate. Why? Because it’s training.
You have to deal with it. Avoiding it is not an option to me. I recently read an article from an author who proudly said that his assistant scans his email for criticism and hate so he doesn’t get to see it.
I get that. It’s not fun to read that stuff. But how can you develop a thick skin without exposing yourself to criticism?
Face it: Life’s not easy
Look, my first response to almost everything that’s uncomfortable in life is to avoid it. I don’t want to read hate mail. I don’t want to deal with annoying realtors when I’m looking for real estate. I don’t want to market my book. I don’t want to run when I’m tired.
I want everyone to love my content. I want people to give me the best deals. I want everyone to buy my book by themselves. I want to be in shape and feel good without working at it.
But you and I both know that’s not reality. The truth is that life’s not easy. We’re confronted with uncomfortable things all the time. And that causes a lot of anxiety.
- What if my business fails?
- What if no one likes me?
- What if he/she rejects me?
- What if I end up alone?
- What if I get ill?
- What if my family dies?
Realize this: Anxiety is normal. It’s a part of normal life.
When you try to avoid feeling anxious, you’re not living. I always remind myself of that. When I feel anxiety, it means I’m doing something right.
However, it becomes a problem when we’re always anxious. And there’s no magic solution to that either. Dealing with anxiety is hard and always will be hard.
Never say, “Why me?!” Say, “This IS me!”
A few things that help with anxiety
Changing your mindset will help a lot with dealing with anxiety. But you also need action to prevent that anxiety controls your life. You don’t want to just get “better” at dealing with it.
No, you want to contain that sucker every single day. Here are a few things that will help:
- Work out every day—This helps you with physical and mental strength. The stronger you are, the more confident you’ll feel.
- Start your day with something that’s uncomfortable—Just because I publish a lot of articles people assume I always like to write. That’s not the case. Writing is a hard and tedious practice. And I often want to avoid it. That’s why I force myself to start the day with writing. When I worked in sales, I started my day with prospecting.
- Journal about your anxiety—Bring all your darkness to the surface. It cannot survive in the light.
You see, there’s no other solution. You have to go through the anxiety. You have to confront that feeling in your stomach and say, “I’m not afraid of you.”
At some point, you realize it’s just a feeling. It’s powerless once you stop feeding it. Fear can’t do anything but scare you. Ask yourself: Do you really want a silly feeling to hold you back from experiencing life to the fullest?
I don’t. How about you?