Is Anxiety A Monster That Attacks You From The Outside?

How do you see your anxiety?  Is anxiety a monster?  Is anxiety like a storm or an invading army that comes to get you?  Are you powerless over it?  Do you feel that you can’t resist, stop or control it no matter how hard you try? What if it wasn’t a monster attacking from the outside?  What if instead you could recognize that you are playing a role, that you have choice, and that you have power in the process?  Abandoning the “monster” narrative can be a powerful thing that informs a shift in the way we react to anxiety and fear.

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The Highlights

  • None of this is BLAME.   I am NOT saying that you are choosing this or bringing it upon yourself.  For people that struggle because they view anxiety as some kind of punishment from a spiritual or religious perspective, this is a critical point so please come back to it if you feel yourself veering into that lane. 
  • Do you feel like anxiety is something that comes to attack you?  Do you see your anxiety as an external force that drags you down that you are powerless against?  Often I will hear people talk about their anxiety this way.  Common statements are:



  • These statements contain valuable clues.  Look at the phrases.  “Control it”  “No matter what I do.”
  • When we treat a state of anxiety as something we must automatically control, prevent, or fix, we are creating the very monster we then declare is coming to get us.
  • In this view, anxiety is as an external force that is laying siege to the city. In that context, our job is to fortify the walls. We must hold off the invading hordes!
  • Here is a news flash:  The invading hoards are already inside the walls and you are –  in some ways – feeding them and giving them shelter, then wondering how they keep getting you.
  • Thinking about it this way is giving up so much of your power and influence in the process.  When we accept that we play a role in creating the monster, that monster loses some of its power. We get back some of ours.  When we see that anxiety is a natural experience and that we play a role in turning it into a blazing inferno, we get a foothold to work from.
  • I know this is hard to accept.  I believe Claire Weekes said, “The only thing keeping you sick … is you.”  That is a hard thing to hear, but also a very useful statement.
  • We should recognize the choice we have.
  • We should recognize the decisions we make.
  • We should recognize our interpretations and our steadfast refusal to accept reality.  We must recognize when we choose instead to follow scary thoughts and sensations over and over because they FEEL so strong.
  • It may seem like you have no choice.  For the first fear that Claire Weekes described, this is true.  But what we do after that defines the outcome and set us up to learn either one lesson or another.  At some point after the flash we see the “OMG!” response.  We choose to get saved.  We choose to run.  We choose … because it feels like it is just too much.  But that still doesn’t make it external or beyond our control.
  • Every time we acknowledge our role in pouring fuel on the fire, and we use that acknowledgement to hang in there just a little longer and choose to do the scary things so we can learn from the doing … we are winning! We are exercising our power and moving toward recovery rather than away from it.
  • None of this makes sense.  I totally get that. But I’m guessing that unless this is the very first podcast episode you’ve ever heard from me, you already know that it makes no sense.  It’s counterintuitive.  It goes against gut feelings and the instinctual drive to be safe and comfortable.  However, and this is important, that doesn’t make it wrong. It just makes it difficult.
  • Take some time to think about this.  Are you treating anxiety and something that comes from outside you that you are powerless over when you are swept away?  Can you start to think about your role?  Can you see yourself reacting in horror to the fire that’s broken out beside you, then accidentally trying to put it out with a can of gasoline and some oily rags?  When you can see that and accept it, what can you do next?


Links of Interest

Podcast Episode 174 – Finding Your Power In The Recovery Process

Podcast Episode 213 – Accepting Responsibility – But NOT Blame – In the Recovery Process

Podcast Episode 227 – What Is Personal Responsibility In Recovery?


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Founder and host of The Anxious Truth Podcast. Former anxiety disorder sufferer. Now fully recovered and dedicated to providing no-nonsense, straight-forward, actionable advice on how to overcome anxiety problems.