Jean Huber, LCSW

Feeling Anxious? – Why Anxiety Isn’t Really the Issue, But Your Response Is

You would think that if you’re feeling anxious, then you might have a problem with anxiety.


After all, you know what it’s like to feel your heart racing, with your breathing getting faster.

Yet, things like heart rate or breathing are not actually anxiety at all. They are simply your response to an emotion that you feel. In fact, every person pretty much has the capacity to feel those emotions, and therefore, become anxious at times.

But anxiety isn’t really the issue…

It’s how you respond to that anxiety that matters most!

Let’s Get Real About Anxiety

Okay, let’s take a moment and consider anxiety. What is it? It’s certainly more than a thought or feeling.

At its root anxiety is an emotion, and a very basic one at that. We all have been hard-wired to experience anxiety. This is true for other emotions such as joy, happiness, fear, etc.

So, why do we feel anxious? Because anxiety helps to alert us to potential dangers.

Your mind processes information received from your senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc.). When it perceives a threat, in a fraction of a second, your mind processes that information. It notifies you that there is a danger by causing you to feel anxious.

But is it okay to feel anxious? Yes!

This may sound like a radical concept, but it’s perfectly acceptable to feel anxiety. In fact, you have the right to experience the full range of human emotions.

We often hear messages that anxiety is a problem that needs addressing. This is true if anxiety is preventing you from leading a full and healthy life. Otherwise, it is an emotion that you can allow yourself to feel. It’s what you do with that anxiety that matters most.

Your Response to Feeling Anxious

As mentioned, your brain tells you to feel anxious based on the information it receives from your environment. In turn, your body has a physiological response. A faster heartbeat and increased breathing help your body to absorb more oxygen. If you start to sweat it’s because your body is attempting to regulate body temperature.

These and other responses that you experience are normal.

But when does your response to anxiety become a problem? Well, the problem arises not from your experiencing an emotion. Rather, it’s what you do with those feelings.

For example, it’s possible to have a moment of anxiety when preparing for a job interview. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there! One person will quickly recognize that they are getting stressed-out and do something to calm down. This may include some deep breathing or perhaps getting up to stretch their legs in the waiting room.

On the other hand, a person who struggles with anxiety chooses a response that is less helpful. In fact, their response is to allow those feelings to build up inside of them until they reach the breaking point. This could be, at the least, simply flubbing the interview. At its worst, it may mean having a panic attack and a complete meltdown.

Being Anxious About Being Anxious

The real tragedy is that some people get so fearful about anxiety, they start to get anxious about being anxious!

It becomes a revolving door that never seems to end. Thus, people who struggle with chronic anxiety are stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution to chronic anxiety is to get treatment from a counselor who understands these issues. A good therapist will not shame you for feeling anxious. Instead, they will work with you to help understand why this happens. Working with them, you will be able to learn coping methods that allow you to experience the emotion, but not let it take over your life.

Everyone has a story about feeling anxious. It’s a universal emotion with our species. The trick when it comes to anxiety is not about whether or not it controls you. Rather, it’s all about your response and what you do with it.

If you struggle with this problem, consider contacting me for help. Or find out more about my approach to anxiety treatment by clicking HERE.

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