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Oct 20

It Might Not Matter “Why” We’re Anxious

good question by e-magic, on Flickr

Original Photo © Eric, emagic on Flickr.
CC BY-ND 2.0

At my most anxious, I spent a LOT of time asking “why”.

If only I understood the reason for my anxiety – if I could understand it, explain it – then I could solve it.

But this was just a distraction. In fact, it made things worse.

Every time I wondered why, my brain came up with a new possibility:

Perhaps it’s nuclear war?
Or you’ve secretly got cancer?
Maybe it’s some buried trauma you’ll never dig up?
Or is it that thing you said to someone the other day?
Perhaps it’s an upcoming deadline…
Or death. It might be death.

You see what happened? I instantly came up with hundreds more reasons to worry. Asking “why” only ADDED to my anxiety.

Instead, I tried to just accept it: “okay, I feel anxious. Doesn’t matter why, I just do.”

And then I focused on fixing it, calming down, doing something else.

Then, later, when the acute anxiety had faded, I could spend some time looking into the root cause.

This isn’t a foolproof plan, and it may not be true for everyone. But if you fall into the same endless anxious rabbit hole of “why”, then it might be helpful for you.


No question words were harmed during the production of this post.

Don’t forget to watch the custard-based TED talk, if you haven’t already! (And if you have, why not tell your friends about it?!)

Or check out the Book for Anxious Humans, which explores anxiety and happiness through embarrassing real-life stories, fantasy fiction, thought-provoking discussion and terribly-drawn doodles.

Like us on Facebook, for more thoughts on happiness.

Read the whole series on Anxiety here.

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