“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.”
-Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
Many people who struggle with anxiety work desperately hard to reduce the stress and anxiety in their lives. Most patients tell me at Session 1 that they want to get rid of anxiety, that that’s their goal. I get that. Anxiety doesn’t feel good.
And many have narrowed their lives in order to escape that feeling. They’ve stopped working, or taking their kids out to the city, or dating, or talking to new people, or taking adventurous trips.
They think “Once I feel less anxious, I’ll do those things again.”
Here’s the thing. Don’t do that. No matter how intense that anxiety is.
I know this is not easy to do. I do. The reality is this: it’s worth it to dive into a rich life, full of experiences that you value, that give you meaning, whether or not anxiety also happens to be there.
Let it be there, if it insists. And turns out anxiety tends to get less intense when you truly turn your attention to the parts of your life you value. But either way, don’t let it guide the life you build.
Some people need help with this. This is work I find meaningful, so contact me if you want my help.
In the meantime, check out one of my favorite TED talks here