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You Don’t Have to Justify Your Anxiety


The move went off without a hitch, all because of help from a really good group of good friends with some Dunkin’ Donuts and pizza fueling the day. But here’s the crazy thing…I swore that would be it. I don’t mean the move, I know we still have stuff in our apartment because we have to be there for a couple weeks. I’m talking about the anxiety around the move. 

You see, in my noggin’ the anxiety was justified while we were getting all our stuff to the house.  I mean, that’s something to be anxious about right? Once we got all the stuff there, a few high fives, some smiling, then I’d relax on the deck with my decaf (low anxiety remember?) and coolly and calmly unpack the home at a relaxed pace…like a Country Time Lemonade commercial. At least that is how the “official preview” played out in my mind anyway. It was justified to have anxiety before the move…NOT after.

Just to be crystal clear: getting the house, setting up all the different things that you need done when you buy a house (electric, heat, wood, lawn care, etc), packing up all your crap, moving all of said crap a little bit at a time, and then getting together a group of good friends to help you push it all the way across the finish line? Justifiable, board-certified anxiety.  

Still uncomfortable…but acceptable.

I feel justified in feeling anxiety during all that, therefore acknowledging it and helping myself through it was ok. But now?! The big move is over. Sure they’re bits and pieces that still need to be managed, but in about two weeks time we’re going to be all set and living in the new house.  Logically (and that’s the problem, emotions don’t always follow logic), I’ve “ordained” that the anxiety ‘should’ be gone, yet my feelings say something different.

I think this happens to a lot of us. If we can justify the emotion in our head we accept it. Maybe even share it with a friend or a family member, and move forward, letting that go. When we don’t feel that the emotion is justified we feel ashamed of our anxiety, and as that great wizard Gandolf the Grey said to Frodo, we keep it secret, keep it safe!

A lot of times society dictates what we should and should not feel about a certain situation. If we do have feelings that feel incongruent to what we ‘should’, we become uncomfortable and sometimes we try to keep others from knowing what’s going on for us. That’s when the emotion festers and festers, and ends up irritating us even more. Anxiety makes us more anxious, we become more frightened of our fear, and we grow quiet. We don’t just stop telling other people how we’re feeling, but we stop acknowledging within ourselves what’s going on for us.

Here are a couple ways to stop judging whether or not your anxiety (or any other emotion) is justified, so you can move through it quicker without the baggage of having to feel shame for having it.

Remind yourself that all of your emotions are justified – I’m not saying that there’s not a good time to try and figure out why you’re feeling a certain way, so you can either deal with a situation that needs your attention, or realize that the emotion is not helping you and move through it. What I am saying is that if you find yourself desperately trying to justify an emotion just so you don’t have to feel shame, throw on the brakes! If shame rears its ugly head, make sure you tell somebody you trust about what’s going on for you, so you can get support. Remind yourself that reason and emotion do not always line up.

One emotion it’s not better than the other – shame comes from a place of something not being OK. It stems from the belief that there are good emotions to have and bad ones.  That couldn’t be any farther from the truth, whether it comes to anxiety or any of our emotions. A good exercise is to practice identifying each emotion, examining it, realizing that the emotion is not you and reserving judgment for having it.  When you do this practice over time you’ll see the value of all of your emotions, even the ones that don’t feel good.

I’ve got to be honest, just giving myself permission to have whatever emotion that arises for me has helped me out significantly while writing this blog. I feel less anxious just for allowing the anxiety. I realize it will come and go for a while, because, well…it should. It’s part of my whole emotional landscape. There are many great things to be grateful for throughout all of this, and I look forward to all of those that will be wrapped up in this new home experience. I think I’ll place my focus on that!

If you would like to learn tools and skills to help you improve your emotional aptitude, reduce your emotional isolation, lessen your avoidance of shame, fear, and anxiety, and enable yourself to reach your goals, break old habits, or create new ones, I can help. I provide emotional resilience coaching, so you can achieve your goals.  We can meet either virtually or in person at my office in Waterbury, Vermont.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

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