Reframing Anxiety

Caveat: This works for me, and I am talking about it in the hope that it can help others. It’s not for everyone.

Over the course of my life I have become a lot better at managing anxiety. I once joked that all I had to do was realize that there’s no logical reason to feel anxious and then wait twenty-five years to see that I was right. That pretty much sums up how I’ve managed it.

Recently, though, I’ve come to see anxiety as as asset.

In my career, I would say that I generally get big things done by being on top of them. By worrying about them. I think about mitigations, like you’re supposed to, but even mitigating the mitigations. It’s probably a bit much, but it works for me. I think of this as being conscientious.

And that’s the reframing that’s helped. My feelings of anxiousness are a flip-side to conscientiousness. They come together. So, to the extent that I am happy about my approach to work, I have to accept that I will often feel unfounded anxiety.

I have come to be thankful for it. When I feel it coming on in an unwelcome way, I tell myself that this part of me is helpful at other times, and it can assuage it.