Four Magic Words to Overcome Anxiety

Pushing though your anxiety is possible when you think differently about it.

Posted Mar 16, 2014

You can let your anxiety limit you or you can push through it, to a large extent, by how you think about your anxiety. It is usually our anxiety about our anxiety that creates obstacles in our lives. Examples of such thoughts are: "I really think I messed up and said someting dumb when I was talking to him. I'm worried I am just just too anxious a person to make a good impression meeting these people tommorow." Or, "I can't stop thinking that if I am this nervous now, I will really end up failing this test tomorrow." These kinds of anxious thoughts reflect not only anxiety about a situation, but also anxiety over having anxiety in the first place!

Negative beliefs, or worrying about worrying, add to your anxiety and keep worry going. It’s tough to be productive in your daily life when anxious self-talk like in the examples above get in the way. You may believe that you need to manage your anxious thoughts. Maybe you've tried things like distracting yourself, denying your anxiety, and trying to think positive, but nothing seems to work. Sometimes these strategies can help temporarily, but you will likely still feel like you don't have control.

When people feel controlled by their anxiety they often accept their anxious talk as their destiny. If, however, you challenge your anxiety with the phrase, "I'm doing it anyway" then you will likely find yourself in a better place. This phrase will influence you to take action and create a new reality that is no longer confined by your anxiety. Below are some examples of how to push through your own anxiety-related barriers using these four words or close versions of them:

  • "I still really feel so rejected because he broke up with me three months ago. A big part of me wants to stay home and not go to this pary but I'm going anyway.
  • "I really don't want to study tonight because I think I will bomb this test, but I''m sudying anyway. 
  • "I feel so self-conscous, I know I've gained ten pounds and I just don't want to show my face at the gym. Come to think about it, so what! I'm going anyway because I owe this more to myself than letting my anxiety make things worse.

Try to embrace saying "I'm doing it anyway" and you will find that you now have a powerful tool to talk back to your anxiety and stop it from inhbiting you. For persistent anxiety-related concerns, see a qualified mental health professional.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over twenty years experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the The Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS eyewitness news Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006) and 10 Days to Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007).