Anxiety has no personal boundaries. It has no conscience regulating the frequency, duration or intensity of its impact. Anxiety often behaves as though its own organ. It can hit you at any time anywhere despite how much you object to it or fail to recognize it, which can leave you feeling so very helpless. I can’t tell you how many times I ducked out of social events because I just knew my anxiety was going to misbehave. I think we want to be social (it’s human nature), but we don’t want to deal with our anxiety. It’s just easier not to do stuff that scares us than to fight with our anxiety to get ourselves to get dressed, then to walk or drive there, then to deal with people. I believe that the aspect about anxiety that sucks the most is thinking we know what other people are thinking.
Anxiety naturally makes your mind race with totally irrational thoughts, but not only do these thoughts invade your mind, but it tries to invade other people’s minds through yours! When we over analyze body language, tone of voice, emotional expression, and the word choices of the people who we are interacting with, we are trying to read their minds for clues into whether or not these people like us. If we say something weird, we read heavily into their reactions us and deduce that they all think that we’re insane. I am the worst with this. I go from 0 to 100 real quick. Even when I’m on the train headed to work, if I catch someone glancing at, say my shoes, for a longer period of time than I’d like, I then come to the conclusion that that person hates my shoes or my fashion sense, and that hurts me personally. If someone I wrote an email to takes a long time to respond, I assume that they think my email was straight-up stupid and is avoiding having to respond. If I post something a bit bold to Facebook, I assume that everyone will scoff at my post and I will, in turn, receive cold treatment from them. This kind of thinking is a vicious cycle, and it is VERY hard to break. I still struggle with this, but I’ve learned a few tips to help me get through. Hopefully, they’ll be as helpful to you as they have been for me.
You Are Not Telepathic
You Can’t Control People’s Thoughts
Rationalize Your Thoughts
Listen (No, really listen)
Know The Way You Think
So you can’t be a telepath, but good news is that you know how you think. If someone does something weird do you dwell upon it for hours and let that keep you from interacting with them? Probably not. You’d probably think “ha, that’s weird.” Then move on. Or you may not think anything of it at all. You’d probably write it off instantly (depending on how weird the action or comment was). So you should assume that other people are going to do the same. Don’t get me wrong. None of this means that you should throw caution to the wind and do weird stuff because f*ck it. It means that you should have fewer emotional constraints inhibiting you from truly living your life.
Keep in mind that being able to read people well is a wonderful skill to have when used correctly. However, my advice is specifically for people who have inadvertantly used it to fuel their anxieties and depression.