Anxiety is a hot topic. I often hear statements like “I’m feeling anxious” or “I’m struggling with my anxiety“. And while all feelings are valid there are different forms of anxiety and roles that anxiety plays in our lives. But in general there are anxiety disorders and there is the other side of anxiety which is the anxiety we feel when we live outside of our values.
Today, I am talking about the other side of anxiety. It is the anxiety that shows up when we start to live outside our value set. It is like a car alarm that goes off to warn us that something isn’t right and that we need to pay attention. It is anxiety that shows up in our body to tell us that something is wrong.
The difference between an anxiety disorder and this other side of anxiety can be shown in the analogy of a car alarm.
Anxiety disorders involve a car alarm going off all the time for random reasons when there is no danger around. Whereas the other side of anxiety involves a car alarm going off to tell us to pay attention.
Daily anxiety (the other side of anxiety) doesn’t require medical treatment like an anxiety disorder. What it requires is a self-assessment.
It requires us to ask ourselves…
- What is important to me?
- What is part of my identity?
Here is an example of how we might be living outside our values and creating anxiety in our daily life.
If integrity is a value of yours it means that you value follow through, you value saying something and doing it. But, if you are living in conflict with that value you a likely doing things that are not aligned with integrity. This could mean you are not staying true to your commitments, you might be telling lies, or you maybe your not being honest with others or yourself.
If you value is integrity but you are going against what integrity stands for then it creates some conflict. The conflict is between your value (integrity) and your actions (ie; not being honest or sticking to your commitments). This conflict is what is creating your anxiety. It is telling your body and mind that you are not living into the values that are important to. It’s telling you to pay attention.
Often we don’t think to reflect on whether our anxiety has anything to do with our actions or how we are living into the things that are important to us. Instead, we look externally and get panicky, loss sleep, etc.
When we avoid our anxieties, when we don’t deconstruct or take apart what is going on, it will start to show up all the time and it can turn us into different people. Prolonged anxiety can make us snappy, irritable, withdrawn, and encourages us to make choices in fear and panic.
Anxiety is not something to ignore, it is something to pay attention to.
I want to encourage you to stop and think when anxiety shows up for you. Ask yourself…
- What are my values?
- What is really important to me?
- What do I hold myself true to?
- What do I stand for?
- What is part of my identity?
And then, ask yourself…
- How am I living into those values?
- Am I doing something that would be in conflict to my values?
- Amd I participating in something that is in conflict with my values?
It is also important to remember that anxiety is not all the same – it can have different sources and contributes to different factors. When those sensations of anxiety arise for you, stop and reflect by asking yourself the above questions.