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An Open Letter to My Anxiety

Dear Anxiety: I don't need to be warned as much as you think I do. The stressful thoughts and mind-movies you show me of every possible thing that could go wrong are actually more harmful than helpful. They make me feel uncomfortable physical symptoms and cause stress that wears on my body and exhausts me.
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beautiful lonely girl sitting on the roof
beautiful lonely girl sitting on the roof

Dear Anxiety,

I get that you want to warn me about potential dangers in the world. I'm really thankful that you've got my back. If a tiger escapes from the zoo and tries to pounce on me, I'm counting on you!

The thing is, I don't need to be warned as much as you think I do. The stressful thoughts and mind-movies you show me of every possible thing that could go wrong are actually more harmful than helpful. They make me feel uncomfortable physical symptoms and cause stress that wears on my body and exhausts me. They are doing the opposite of what you want them to do, which is protect me from harm.

Also, you're wrong a lot. You don't have a great track record. Remember when you told me I left the curling iron on and the house was going to burn down? What was up with that? It wasn't on and the house was fine. Remember when you told me my friend was mad at me because she didn't text back? She replied soon after you said that and wasn't the slightest bit mad. She said, "I love you, BFF!" That the pain in my stomach was appendicitis? You just got scared after we read Madeline in second grade. Nothing was wrong, silly goose!

Some of your reminders are nice and helpful. I like that you want me to work hard at school so I pass my exams. I like that you tell me to look both ways before I cross the street. Good job being constructive. High-five!

Some of your chatter is over the top, though. It's distracting, which is, again, more harmful than helpful. Life is precious, and the people I love are precious. I want to be there for them, with them, in every moment. I want to give them a clear mind and an open heart. That is why I'm not believing everything you say anymore. That's why I'm saying, "Thanks for the warning, but I'm OK" and "That's not me, that's anxiety!" and then changing my focus.

No amount of chillin' with you and going over bad things that could happen, prevents them from happening. It just makes me sad and wastes time and energy I can use to help others and create beauty in the world!

Also, I want to live an adventurous, fun life. When I make plans to to something like fly to Italy and you're like, "Don't do it! What if 'this bad thing' happens!" I'm still going to go to Italy. The more times I do the awesome thing and you come along and 'the bad thing' you predict doesn't happen, the better you will feel about our adventures! Also, I have one word for you: gelato.

So while I appreciate your constant concern, let's save it for the real threats. Let's use your energy to create more awesome stuff in the world and less anguish for me. I our awesome, vivid imagination. I love our excitement, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and constant ideas and projects.

But let's take a few deep breaths and have some tea. There's no tiger in NYC that escaped from the zoo and is going to ring our bell and come join us. We're OK.

Love, Your Person