Exam anxiety, criticism anxiety, public speaking anxiety, failure anxiety, anxiety about not being creative, separation anxiety… When we have so many worries in our lives, we start to put overcoming anxieties as a prerequisite for happiness. Well, what can be the real meaning of anxiety, which has spread to all areas of our lives and matched with happiness and success, and what can be the meanings that it creates for us?
Anxiety is with us from birth. As soon as we are born, we begin to worry about living, and in this way, our most basic need to love and communicate with someone emerges. Thus, in the first moments of our lives, we have one more anxiety; attachment anxiety. Our behaviors, relationships and decisions are starting to take shape with us based on these concerns. From this point of view, anxiety; It is a very helpful feeling that keeps us alive, protects us from danger, and is the basis for what we will do. The meanings we attach to our lives cause this feeling to turn from its life-saving function into a harmful one, and cause us to experience the feeling that we have jumped into a water that exceeds our height without learning how to swim. Because of this feeling, our basic need is to look for a life jacket; It teaches us to escape, not to question ourselves realistically, what our skills are, whether we will succeed. So, are we doomed to live with this feeling and try to find life jackets? Of course not.
The feeling of anxiety will always be with us to keep us alive, but how we see this feeling is under our control. The first step is to accept that anxiety is normal and healthy and will always be with us. The next step is to know ourselves “What kind of person am I? What do I do when I’m scared, what do I do when I’m sad, what do I do when I’m excited? How do I experience my emotions? How do I deal with these feelings? What are the things that make me feel better?” trying to find answers to their questions.
The third step is to be able to describe the events we experience. According to the famous philosopher Epictetus, people are harmed not by events but by their own beliefs and attitudes. Happiness depends on understanding what we can and cannot control. Struggling for events we cannot control is like swimming against the current and takes our anxiety from the healthy level to the harmful level.
Even if we try to recognize ourselves and classify events correctly, being able to recognize the point where we are tired is a very important step. If we don’t have enough strength to swim anymore, if our arms start to get tired, it means it’s time to ask for help, stop and rest. Noticing such times without delay, making time for the things that are good for us, asking for help when we can’t find it will allow us to rest, regain our strength and move forward again. Receiving healthy signals of anxiety in a timely manner will prevent the growth of anxiety. We will be able to become stronger individuals by using their worries at the right time and in the right way, not being managed by their worries anymore.