Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about a real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.
Concern is the healthy version of anxiety. Concern is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a healthy belief or attitude about real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.
You can be anxious or concerned about many things. Commonly people can be anxious or concerned about:
- Success and failure
- Negative judgement
- Making mistakes
- Anxiety itself
- Emotional problems
- Things not be just so i.e. perfectionism
- Physical health
- Mental health
- And so on
How do you know if you are anxious or concerned?
When you feel anxious you will tend to exaggerate the overall effect of the threat or risk. You will think terrible things will happen. You also think that you won’t be able handle and deal with the bad thing if it was to happen. For example, you will think that you won’t be able to handle failure. You will tend to see the glass as half empty so your thoughts will be pessimistic focusing on the negatives. Your thoughts will also be unhelpful to you and you will not be thinking in a constructive way.
When you are anxious you feel like avoiding and running away from the threat. So if you are anxious about negative judgement, you may feel like avoiding doing anything that puts you at the risk of being negatively judged. You will also feel like running away from the threat mentally by, for example, keeping yourself extra busy so you don’t have to think about what you are worried about. You will also know if you are anxious because you may be doing superstitious things to get rid of what you are anxious about. When you feel anxious you are more likely to get rid of the feelings by drinking too much, or medicating yourself in other ways. Another sign of anxiety is assurance seeking, checking and asking people ‘do you think everything will be OK?’
If you are in a state of concern, the healthy version of anxiety, then you will tend to think in a more realistic way, keeping the effect of the danger or threat in perspective and you will have a balanced view about your ability to handle the problem if it was to happen. You thoughts will be more solution focused and helpful.
In a state of concern you will tend to face what you are concerned about as opposed to avoiding it. You will not be seeking constant assurance from others.
Think about what you deem as a risk or a threat and work out from the above explanation if you are anxious or concerned about it.
If you deem that you feel anxiety about some threats then mirror the concern attitude and behave in accordance with the behavioural tendencies of concern. Repeat them until your notice an emotional shift. This will feel uncomfortable and unusual at first. This will means making your thinking realistic and letting go of avoidant behaviour.