Why “Nice” Advice Used to Stress Me Out

And how I fixed it.

When you have an anxiety disorder, you’re used to navigating the world of “life advice” like football players doing the block and tackle. New perspectives are coming at you from all directions, and it’s your job to quarterback yourself through the experience intact. It’s not always easy, though.

In the past few years, I’ve learned that even well-intentioned, “nice” advice needs reframing in order to avoid leaving a mark. It’s just part of having anxiety.

Through my past few years of job changes, there’s been one piece of advice that’s come up more than others. I’ve heard it again and again. It’s: “Embrace Who You Are.” Though it’s definitely a nice sentiment, since I have anxiety, being told to embrace my true self has made me feel:

anxiety advice

 

Here’s Why.

Anxiety made it very hard to know what, exactly, what I should be embracing. Anxiety obscured who I was and what I liked. All I could hear was pressure and static inside my head. Well-intentioned advice like “Embrace Who You Are” added pressure to an already-tight space.

I Tried This Instead.

When someone gives me the “embrace who you are” advice, I’ve learned to reframe it into:

Seek the space to allow your inner voice to speak up.

This was my daughter at the beach last week. She pondered sand for 20 minutes.

This was my daughter at the beach last week. She pondered sand for 20 minutes.

Instead of piling another difficult to-do onto the list, I’ve used this reframe to remove them, giving myself room to let the answers start to bubble up themselves.

For those of us with anxiety, the best advice is never about trying harder to do anything. I’ll sound like Yoda here, but the advice that works all enters on this theme: Create the space, and the insight will come.

This is how I learned to reframe “nice” advice so that it works for me. I hope it works for you, too!