My story on disliking the “How to Beat Anxiety” titles went up on The Mighty today. One smart thinker on Twitter asked some great questions about it, and we wrote back and forth. I tweeted at him that I thought it would be great to discuss more, if I could lure him here…So this thread is a place for us to follow up on this conversation:
Chaz – I’m gonna write to you as though you are here (and hopefully you will be!)
While of course there are things we can do to improve our circumstances, as an overthinker I have spent much of my life trying TOO HARD to improve everything constantly.
It’s caused more trouble than success.
This is the crux of my anxiety, which is why I particularly speak to other “overthinkers” in my writing. These are people who are often fixated at improving everything, and have a hard time relaxing.
Saying, “Hey, you can beat this” is like waving a red flag at this type of person’s central nervous system…
Glad you did write as though I was here.
To set the tone, I would over think everything in my childhood and adolescent years. This stemmed from having anxieties as a result of having a severe stutter. The practices that helped me develop fluent speaking in later years are the same practices that calmed my mind down.
It can be overwhelming to think of everything we need to do to. It’s why people think in short term and long term gains. While there’s no time limit for growth, some needs are more immediate than others.
I highly advocate for personal growth and tackling your problems head on. However, do so in a way that’s healthy for you without thinking of everything that has to be improved.
Hey @ChazB–Thank you so much for writing me back here! I loved your questions and thoughts on Twitter, and am so happy to hear a bit more background here.
I would love to hear more about what kind of practices helped you with your stutter. How old were you when you found what helped?
If I could paraphrase your argument about my article, it might be “I don’t have a problem with titles like ‘How to Beat Anxiety’ because they can reach the right audience who needs to think in that personal growth way (a la Tim Ferris, perhaps?)” – Did I get that right?
My response is: “I hear that. For some people, aggressive tackling may be the only thing that works. There is one person–Ben Foley (he’s a writer on Medium and on the BV Slack Group) in particular who comes to mind. However, the problem is that you are catching the ocean. And the net result (pardon the pun) is that lots of people are under the impression that if they just tried harder, they could “win” against anxiety. And I can tell you if that were me, it would have led to more migraines, more stiff necks, more nausea. I had to learn tactics to help me ride the wave…”
I’m so glad you’re sharing your perspective, @ChazB! Thanks for being here!
Wow, I am sorry for the late response. Finally have the chance to write back.
To keep it brief, I first started with different breathing exercises. Thinking that my speech was purely a physical problem. Then later on I began to experiment with practices that improve my quality of life. Meditation, visualisations, yoga, better diet, using the power of your subconscious mind…practices like that. This is when I began to see some incredible results.
Truthfully speaking, seeing and experiencing these changes has allowed me to develop a progressive mindset. A mindset that believes we can change our situations with focused work. Not everybody thinks like this and that’s fine. Some look for overnight fixes and can’t think of their progress over the long term.
This mindset of mine is different from a lot of people’s - but it’s served me well. You are correct to reframe our discussion like that. When you look at the bigger picture (e.g. your example of the ocean) it scares you. It’s a series of small wins as opposed to one big win.
I couldn’t agree more about small wins. It’s a core tenant of this site for sure. I think many of us look at the solution in simple, global terms instead of realizing that breaking everything down into small issues to tackle is much more manageable.
Thanks for your comment and for being here @ChazB – also I love that video of you dancing. So awesome.
The small wins are important. Otherwise we’re overwhelmed by everything. You have to start from somewhere.
You’re welcome! Thanks for introducing me to here.
I’m glad you’re here and hope you’ll stick around!