October 26, 2020

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I’ve talked a lot about having anxiety. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety fairly young. I’ve learned a lot about anxiety over the years, including that my anxiety may or may not be a symptom of other undiagnosed issues. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to have a dedicated therapist for the first time in my adult life and have it all sorted out.

What is the opposite of anxiety?

I’d argue that it’s self-confidence. Because, what does anxiety riddle you with? A sense of doom. Self-doubt. Second guessing. All of those things indicate a lack of confidence.

My anxiety is an ongoing mental health issue. While additionally agitated by situations, I experience heightened anxiety when there is no logical reason to be anxious. I experience anxiety attacks when there is no apparent reason. Spoiler alert: These attacks are not particularly pleasant. I’ve spent years learning to recognize and redirect them.

I’ve fixated a lot on anxiety because it has been a controlling and limiting factor in my life for about as long as I can remember.

Yes, I own my anxiety. I’ve learned it will likely always accompany me in some form and I will always need to acknowledge its existence and continue managing it. If I am experiencing an absence of anxiety, I must continue practicing the things that helped me arrive to that state and not let my guard down.

That being said: I’m going to stop centering my gaze on the anxiety. I’m going to start nurturing confidence. Unabashed, unearned, reality-defying confidence. The kind of self-confidence that tells me I’m going to be okay even when there is no evidence that is true. The kind of self-confidence that assures me I am going to succeed at my wildest dreams, it’s only a matter of time so long as I keep working towards them. The kind of self-confidence that doesn’t care about the odds stacked against me.

Perhaps paradoxically, I’ve always had a sort of natural confidence, or perhaps naivety, that enabled me to do things that shouldn’t have been possible. But then, I grew up. I had no Peter Pan to whisk me away to keep my childlike wonder. My confidence was beaten away at by the real world. One full of responsibilities and mistakes in managing them.

Now that I’ve come to terms about my relationship with anxiety, I want to nurture that confidence again. I know it’s in there. That self-confidence just needs me to believe in it. No matter how many people see something amazing in me or my work, if I can’t find it in myself… the anxiety will win out as the strongest force in my life.

This shift in mentality is going to spill over into everything I’m doing. Yes, I am still out here combating anxiety. But I’m no longer on the defense. Anxiety is no longer the center of attention. Instead, I am going to put my energy into building my self-confidence to the point that I am unshakeable. I am forging self-confidence into a super weapon to take into the epic battle anxiety wages on my life.

Target fixation is when you focus so hard on what you don’t want to hit, that you end up steering towards it and colliding into it precisely because that’s where your attention was. I do not want to make that mistake with anxiety. I’m excited for my new fixation. I’m not just excited… I am confident this is exactly the step I need to be taking right now.

There’s value in understanding something that plagues you. But, fixate on it for too long and you’ll inevitably be sucked back into it again and again. I’m curious: Are you in a similar position? Whether its anxiety and self-confidence, or something else entirely, I know I am not alone in needing a shift in perspective like this.

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