Mental health is rarely shown under positive light. Instead, it is viewed as burdensome, hindering, and as a "problem" that needs to be solved. When you read or hear about anxiety, a lot of the words you’ll hear are “disorder,” “problem,” “stigma,” and a variety of other words which imply a negative connotation. A lot of the time, anxiety does feel onerous, and we tend to uphold the negative stigmas surrounding it. However, while anxiety can feel difficult at times, I see it as a challenge to succeed.
It may sound counterintuitive, but bear with me: Anxiety is empowering.
It teaches better decision-making skills. Anxiety is a thoughtfulness that goes beyond most thinking patterns. It can process and imagine almost every possible outcome of a situation or choice to be made in a matter of minutes or even seconds. This is one of the most common things I hear from my friends who struggle with anxiety or panic attacks. They process so much information and imagine so many different scenarios, that they can almost foresee the outcomes of events, allowing them to make better, more thoughtful decisions in the long run.
Anxiety helps us embrace the unknown. Learning to cope with anxiety and push through panicked thoughts helps build better awareness. You learn to notice details and escape routes in stressful situations. You overthink and plan ahead, which may feel unnecessary from afar, but "researchers show that the [anxious] brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat than those...who are more laid-back."
It teaches responsibility and self-care. Anxiety can make a person feel out of control, but, over time, losing control can help you better understand yourself and your needs. People with anxiety tend to have a better idea of what does and what doesn’t help them in certain situations. Knowing your limits and understanding what can trigger bad bouts of anxiety is an extremely important form of responsibility and self-care.
It reminds us to live in the moment. One of worst parts of anxiety is the impeding notions and worries of the future, and the regrets of the past. However, one of the worst parts of anxiety is also one of the best parts, too. Over time, you learn to focus on the present moment, even just to block out the fears of the future and qualms of the past.
Anxiety forms resilience and strength. There’s an old Japanese proverb reminding us to “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” It takes a great deal of strength to persist in this world, with or without anxiety. People deal with anxiety in a variety of ways, but with each step forward, our brains become more flexible and the “drive to cope and to survive” becomes our greatest strength.
"They say that into every life some rain must fall. What they say is true, but it is never mentioned that rain can be seen as either a blessing or a curse, and it is up to me to determine which way I will perceive it" ~ Thomas A. Richards