I thought I had it beat.
I have gotten dramatically better at handling all the curveballs that life throws at me. Any big changes I was handling like a champ.
You go so long feeling good, you’re nerves aren’t a constant source of torment for you, but then something happens.
It can be something so little.
As little as going to the grocery store and asking the cashier for stamps.
The idea comes in your head.
Then you feel it.
The tingling sensation down your legs. The cringy feeling in your gut. The little voice in your head that tells you to run. You can’t do this.
You know it’s irrational, but that doesn’t make the feeling go away.
Sure you could tell yourself it’s no big deal and just to concur your anxiety, but what if you can’t?
Then what if you have someone you loved who asked you to do it and then insisted on you giving them an explanation as to why you can’t do something so “simple”?
So great. On top of feeling anxious about a social encounter you have someone making you feel ridiculous for not being able to do it.
Not that you needed help feeling ridiculous. Anxiety’s got that covered for you.
Anxiety is a fickle thing.
It comes and goes at it’s own pleasure.
It could lie dormant for years and pop up at the most random time in your life.
It could happen for the smallest reason or no reason at all.
Anxiety will make you scared to do something and then make you feel inadequate for not being able to do it.
Please, I urge you. If you love someone with anxiety and they tell you that something makes them feel anxious to do, don’t make them feel bad.
Please, don’t act as if it was just a simple request. That they should be able to do it, because if you could do it, then they should be able to as well, right?
No. They can’t and it doesn’t have to make sense to you. It shouldn’t have to make sense you anyway. Not if you really love them.
You don’t have to understand your loved one’s reasons for things, but what you can do is understand anxiety and that there will never be a rhyme or reason to it.
The more you push someone with anxiety, the worse you make the situation.
They are already feeling anxious, then inadequate. Do you really want to add guilt to the list? Plus, there’s the lonely feeling that comes along with having anxiety and already feeling as if no ones understands.
The best thing you can do when you love someone with anxiety is to love them gently.
Let them know that it’s ok if they can’t do something that seems small to you. Let them know that there is nothing wrong with them and that they are not alone. That you support them and love them and no amount anxiety will ever change that.
Make them feel safe to come to you with feelings of anxiety. That you will not only understand, but protect them from anxiety and essentially themselves.
Just love them gently and often and you will be fine. It will get easier.
The last thing we want to do is take a small moment of anxiety and create an avalanche of feelings and emotions, cause then your work as their loved one becomes harder.
So just love them gently.
Create that as a mantra for yourself if you must. A little reminder to love them gently.
Those of us with anxiety know that your job to love us is not easy. We know how irrational we sound. We know it doesn’t make sense. We don’t always understand it ourselves.
Two words is all we are ever really looking to hear in those situation.
If you substituted “I don’t understand” out for “I understand”. You take away their feeling of being alone and you create a sense of peace and security.
You make them feel safe. You validate their feelings.
Someone with anxiety walks around feeling misunderstood. To understand is to love.
To be understood is to feel loved.
It gives anxiety no where to go. No fuel to continue to burn and will quickly extinguish.
So please my dears. Love Gently.