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You are not your anxiety

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

How many times have you said something along the lines of “My anxiety was so bad this weekend.” Or do you ever say to yourself, “I am so anxious.” or “I am an anxious person.”? If so, let’s look at the identity that comes along with that. Everything that follows the words ‘I AM’ is an affirmation. If you affirm this to yourself on a regular basis, your mind is going to believe this is a who you are and it’s going to become you. It will be a part of your self-identity.

That’s not to say that you don’t have strong feelings of anxiety, it may be a part of your everyday life, which is a lot for other people, but it’s not WHO you are. We must first start to tackle the self-identity side of anxiety. Begin to recognise if you’re saying to yourself, “I am anxious” or “I am someone who struggles with..” or “My anxiety is..”, as it becomes an ownership over that anxiety.

Here are 8 powerful affirmations you can begin to practice should you struggle with anxiety and also have a habit of calling it ‘My anxiety’: “I am safe and in control.” If you start to feel anxious especially in these trying times, whether that’s on public transport, when you’re dropping kids off of school, at work, when you wake up, whatever that situation is for you, repeat to yourself, “I am safe and in control”. One of your basic needs as a human is to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, that’s when you tend to go into fight, flight and freeze mode. Anxiety is very different for everyone but feeling unsafe can trigger anxiety. So just reaffirming to yourself, “I am safe and in control.”, “I’ve got this.” instantly begins to put you back in the driver’s seat, making you in control of your thoughts and feelings. “I am not my thoughts” or “I am not my feelings.” Some people recognise the thoughts first and some recognise the feelings first—see which one of these resonates with you. I AM NOT is recognising that it’s what you’re thinking and feeling, but it is not a part of your identity or who you are. “I am able to breathe through this”. Just notice as you say the word breathe, it tends to give you a feeling of instant relief. It is a very calm statement to say to yourself. Follow it with some calming breaths. “This feeling is temporary”. Knowing that just because you woke up with anxiety, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be anxious all day. If you get triggered and you feel anxious, it links to all your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviour. This is why, as soon as you get those thoughts and feelings of anxiety, replace those thoughts and feelings with “This feeling is temporary”, it will reassure you that you’re in control and it shall pass soon.