Can anxiety ever serve a positive purpose? Here I’d like to talk about women, anxiety and feelings of guilt – something common to many chicks I know.
Lately I have been feeling lots of anxiety. I feel anxious about many different things. Mostly, it’s about wanting to achieve at work, but there are other pressures playing on my mind as well.
Am I just a whinger?
First world problem, right? Maybe not. Read Wikipedia’s assessment of anxiety: “It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over something unlikely to happen, such as the feeling of imminent death.”
Yup – when you put it like that – anxiety is a pretty crappy thing to feel.
So are the things I am anxious about likely or unlikely to happen? Can anxiety ever serve a positive purpose?
The real purpose of Anxiety
Going back to the original purpose of anxiety – some scientists talk about evolutionary psychology. The theory is that our ancestors used their increased anxiety to increase their vigilance when something wasn’t right. Indeed, a study has found that anxious people are less likely to die in accidents, even today!
Mostly, I get anxious about things I cannot change. I get nervous when I am too busy, when I have lots on my plate to deal with, when I am running behind schedule. I also get nervous about my relationship and concerned about my friends. I worry that I do not have enough time to see everyone and do everything. I constantly feel like I am failing and falling behind and this makes me nervous.
I am sure you have heard about ‘Mommy Guilt”. I am not a mother yet and I cannot claim to have this but I think I am feeling something akin to Mommy Guilt.
Cara Paiuck has written a great article about this called Two Words You Should Never Say to a New Mother. She says:
“I don’t know of anything else that could have made me feel worse or more of a failure. Those words confirmed my worst fears: I am not good enough. I am not doing enough. I am not strong enough. I am not capable. I am a failure.”
Sometimes I feel like I am slipping under and that things are just waaay out of control. Sometimes I feel like I have to give up time for one thing in order to make time for another. I feel that I can’t keep all these plates in the air at the same time.
The two words that you should never say to a new mother? Try Harder.
Many of my female friends report feeling guilt. I have come to think that maybe feeling guilt is just part of being a grown-up woman, and that terrifies me. The way my life is going I will only have more and more things to feel guilty about and more and more people to let down. I go to sleep and wake up so terrified – and it’s getting worse by the day.
I constantly feel like I need to ‘try harder’. I resent myself for feeling guilty. I get anxious about feeling anxious. Even when things are good, I feel so overwhelmed and like a mild panic is with me all the time.
I know that the cure for my anxiety would be mediation and exercise – I am sure that would help. The problem is finding the motivation to make healthy changes when I am already feeling overwhelmed.