Mind (mental health & positivity)

Anxiety is My Superpower (& How it Can Be Yours Too)

How most people would describe anxiety: overwhelming, horrible, debilitating, THE WORST.

How I (try to) describe anxiety: my hidden talent, my secret weapon, my superpower.

Now I know I know. This seems..ridiculous? Unreasonable? A stretch? (man I’m a role with adjectives today aren’t I?!).

But it’s true. Anxiety is my superpower.

Real talk: I didn’t always feel this way; it’s taken me years to see that being an anxious little thing can actually be a positive thing. And tbh, there’s some days where it still feels like nothing but a negative things. But as I’ve found better ways to tackle my anxiety, I’ve also started to learn how to use it for my benefit.

Lemme show you how.

Make anxiety your hidden talent, your secret weapon, your superpower. Click To Tweet

Conquer Anxiety and Make it Your Superpower

 

Before I jump in, let me break down how this post is going to work.

There will be three parts to each superpower quality:

  1. The traditional anxiety symptom
  2. The way in which this symptom is actually a perk
  3. How you can activate this perk and turn it into your superpower!

Sound good? Cool! Then let’s dive in.

Hyperawareness

Symptom: When I am anxious, I feel like every inch of me is on fire, and if I could just somehow peel away my skin, I’d feel a lot better. Morbid, but true. My anxiety It makes me super aware of every limb and line of my body, and it used to terrify me.

Perk: I know when something is wrong, usually pretty quickly. Because I am so aware of my body, I am also aware of any changes…no matter how small. From being just one degree hotter to feeling the early stages of an anxiety attack, being hyperaware of my body also gives me great insight into what’s going on.

Activate: The problem with hyperawareness isn’t the awareness in itself, it’s how it’s used. Transfer that awareness to be a more productive, positive citizen of Your Body, USA!

Do you feel your breath quickening and your heart beginning to race? Cool! Don’t ignore the feeling, and definitely don’t fight it. Thank your body for being so keen, and then address it head on. Use that awareness as a time to connect with yourself on a deeper level. Question the moment, and then reason through it: is it just that you drank too much coffee? Is it related to a coworker that stresses you out walking by? Or are you truly in the beginning stages of an anxiety attack?

How can you use that energy to get through the moment? Can you transfer your focus to another area of your body – something that might be more soothing? Can you close your eyes and focus on the feeling of your eyeballs as you move them back and forth? Can you grab an object with a texture that you like (I’m a big fan of smooth, round things) and focus on how that feels in your hand?

Keep asking yourself questions until you find something that resonates with you. And then throw that hyperawareness into that instead.

Hawk-like Observancy

Symptom: Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been overly very very perceptive. I have always been the type of person who would rather sit back and observe the world than get too into the weeds of it. But being an anxious person doesn’t always allow me to observe with a positive eye. Instead, I find myself nitpicking at the small things I see. “Oh shoot, Marcia rolled her eyes as I walked by, was that towards me?!?!” Ya know, that sort of bullshit.

Perk: Picking up on the little things can be a good thing. I’m very aware of how people react to the words I say, how I phrase things, my tone of voice, and even my body language. I can tell when I need to redirect a conversation or clarify a point just by noticing their eye movements or facial expressions. While it can drive me personally insane sometimes, it does make me a better communicator, presenter, and allows me to be more compassionate.

Activate: Just like with hyperawareness, being over-observant can be used for good and not evil! I find that channeling the observations into more positive activities helps me overcome my more negative mind. Instead of letting my head run wild about past things I’ve observed, I move those observations into the future.

Maybe Marcia did roll her eyes when I passed…but what else did I notice? Was she drowning in paperwork? And oh, I did notice a big meeting on her calendar that day! So maybe I should just be sure to steer clear of Marcia on those days. Or better yet, ask her if she needs help, bring her a coffee, or do something nice to make her a day a little bit easier!

Don’t let your mind taint your observations. Take them at face value, and then use them for good!

Don’t let your mind taint your observations. Use them for good! Click To Tweet

Caring Too Much

Symptom: I care about everything. From what other people think about me to how clean my apartment is…I care about it all. Now this is made worse by me being a Type-A people pleaser….so really I’m just working against myself on this one.

Perk: Caring = compassion. And while I may care too much, isn’t that better than not caring at all?

Really though, having that much compassion means that I have the capacity to be passionate about a lot of things. I’m passionate about blogging and building up this community. I’m passionate about building my career and professional life. I’m passionate about maintaining my relationships, and keeping my apartment clean, and on and on and on.

By caring too much, it allows me to spread the care around to everyone.

Activate: Now this one isn’t about turning a negative into a positive; it’s about making sure not to spread yourself too thin. Because I care so much about so many different things, my to-do list is always pages (yes PAGES) long. I can’t sit still, because there’s always something to do. And I find it hard to prioritize.

That’s when two things come into play: planning and self-care.

Now I talk a lot about different forms of self-care in my Ultimate Treat Yourself Day post. And self-care pep talks? I’ve got you covered on that too.

But let’s talk planning for a moment. I separate things I care about into Care Categories. Each day (in addition to doing things like showering and eating), I try to do one small activity from each Care Category. For instance, my Care Categories are Work, Blog, Relationships, Self-Care, and Cleaning. So for Sunday, my plan is to update my resume, catch up with some social media and blogging groups, reach out to a friend, give myself a face mask, and do the laundry – one item from each category. Nothing too crazy, but it allows me to keep my caring in check!

Want to make your own Care List? I gotchu! Check out my Self Care Workbook in my Resource Library! It’ll help you categorize your own cares, and prioritize them each day. I even talk about another method of planning based on what you care about, so def check it out!

Over-Emotional

Symptom: Anxiety throws all my emotions into a tailspin. I feel everything stronger and with a more negative filter. In short: I’m a hot mess 78% of the time.

Perk: I keep the tissue company in business. No but really. I let my emotions out. I don’t keep them bottled up, I release them and then I deal with them. So my friend, if you feel like crying, go ahead and cry. At the end of the day you’ll be better for it.

Activate: After you have a good cry (or screaming session or whatever emotional release works best for you), thank yourself. Because girl, your body just did an amazing thing! It let you know that something is/was terribly terribly wrong! Now in the future, you don’t have to be blindsided; it literally gave you a flashing neon sign that says “HOMEGIRL THIS ISN’T RIGHT CHANGE IT!”. And that’s pretty freaking cool.

So thank yourself for that moment of clarity. Show yourself some grace and compassion (yeah that’s right. Don’t forget to add yourself to your care list). And then back track. What caused those emotions to flare? What was it about that moment or situation? And how can you prevent that moment or situation from happening again?

Because it’s not about that fact that you cried. It’s about changing whatever it was that made you cry.

It’s not about that fact that you cried. It’s about changing whatever it was that made you cry. Click To Tweet

Overthinker

Symptom: So there’s definitely a trend here with doing things too much, so it makes sense that overthinking is on the list. If there is more than one thought to have about something, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I will have thought them all. It’s a good time.

Perk: Because I think about everything, usually more than once, I don’t take any decision lightly. It makes me prepared for the worst, and also helps me make educated decisions.

Activate: The key here is to let your emotions be there, but keep them focused and useful. Sometimes I let my thoughts run legit wild. Not good my friend, not good.

Let your thoughts exist, but don’t let them turn into a monologue. Make it a conversation. Ask questions, provide counterpoints, and ask for supporting arguments. Make this a full on debate team competition.

Because just like the crying, these thoughts are providing you some insight into your true feelings. Just don’t let them stage a revolution without your consent.

Don't let your anxiety stage a revolution without your consent. Click To Tweet

So what have we learned today class?

  1. Anxiety is not a bad thing
  2. None of the symptoms of anxiety are inherently bad
  3. Girl if you feel like crying, go ahead and cry
  4. It’s all about how we use our powers: for good or for evil
  5. You are a badass. Whether today your anxiety is crippling you, or whether you are using it to your benefit. Either way – still a badass.

Until next time,

P.S. Did you know this post is part of my Anxiety Appreciation Week? Yup! A whole week of celebrating anxiety! Check out my other Anxiety Appreciation Posts:

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  • Jacqueline Elliott

    This is such a positive perspective! I definitely don’t appreciate my anxiety, but maybe I’ll try to use it a little more now 🙂

    -Jacqueline
    http://www.jackieomy.com/

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  • Sepideh

    I almost feel emotional reading this Asha.. ! I’ve been realizing the same thing lately – I’ve been looking at my anxiety all wrong. I’m not TOO sensitive – I’m compassionate and that’s an amazing trait!! I’m not HYPER AWARE, I’m in touch with myself and aware of who I am and in tune… (and more people should be like that tbh!)

    This is such a great post .. seriously .. it’s so important to empower ourselves instead of putting down a trait in our character.

    http://www.elleisforlove.com

    • Awww Seppy I’m so glad to hear that! And you’re exactly right!!! Life is all about ying and yang: wherever we see too much of something, there’s an opposite view of it being just enough of something else! I’m glad that this post helped you empower yourself to love yourself a little harder! 🙂

  • I love this, Asha! I also have anxiety and relate to all of this. Reclaiming it as a “superpower” is a clever and empowering idea.

    Lauren // http://laurensjourney.com

    • It’s definitely been an empowering journey! Hard, confusing, and sometimes tiring, but also empowering! Glad to have a fellow anxiety survivor in the AWA fam!

  • Nichole

    hi asha i love how your broke down each symptom of anxiety into perks and superpowers. it gives a different perspective to dealing with anxiety. really enjoyed this read. especially when you discuss being more mindful of our emotions as we become anxious- and the key is to accept those feelings and not fight them, a feature of mindfulness. great post.

    nichole // thedailypursuit.com

    • So glad that you mentioned mindfulness! I feel like it’s been key in me managing my anxiety and has allowed me to not get so sucked into my feelings when they happen! So glad that you resonated with the post Nichole! 🙂

  • LifebyCyndi

    Hi Asha, I’ve really enjoyed reading this article. I love the great real-life perspective you’ve given on the topic and how you broke down the symptoms of anxiety in manageable ‘chunks and show how each of these can be transformed into superpowers! I especially love when you talk about being aware in advance of what you’re body is saying and using that knowledge to channel that upsurge in energy into something else & also using hyperawarebess of others to do good- to take those observations a step further and to be empathetic and show kindness to others. Great job; keep it up! – Cyndi of LifebyCyndi.com

    • Cyndi – I’m SO glad that this post resonated with you! I’m a firm believer in writing from my experiences, and I’m glad you could connect with that!

      It’s definitely taken me a long time to learn to channel my energy and observations for good, but if Superman can do it, then so can you and I! 🙂