We all need to do a little trash talking sometimes to find inspiration and motivation.  Being told – or telling yourself – that you are a badass anxiety warrior is sometimes needed to get us out of a down mood, or when we need something to get us off the sofa.  Nothing wrong with that, but the Internet is full of memes and inspirational quotes about how difficult this is and how nobody understands just how strong we are.

 Anxious people are gathering right now in Internet forums and Facebook groups to exchange these words.   You know them.  

  • Warriors.
  • Soldiers
  • Goddesses.

We use words like battle and war . We post pictures of lions and gladiators and angels.  Its all quite soothing and inspirational.

That and a Metro Card will get you on the New York City subway.  Without action, they are just words and in the end worthless.

Does that sound harsh?  Good. It should.

Talking the talk without walking the walk is a self-soothing behavior, but in the end it does nothing to advance your cause. If you want to identify as a warrior, soldier or goddess, then you must take action like one.  This does not mean going from housebound to a world cruise in one leap.  This simply means being active in the process of recovery.  It means taking those small steps that need to be taken, every day even when you don’t want to or think you cant.  Warriors are built through action and experience. They are not created with words.

  • Want to be a warrior?  Learn to relax your body when you need to.
  • Want to be a solider?  Learn basic meditation and focus skills so you can use them when you need to.
  • Want to be a goddess?  Learn proper breathing techniques so you can use it when you need to.
  • Want to win battles?  Go stand outside in your front yard for 60 seconds even if you’re terrified to do that.

Words without actions are empty, but actions don’t have to be grandiose and impressive.  They can be small and measured and incremental and productive.  Small steps add up.  Tiny increments become long distances.  Every action matters, so long as you are taking action.

So next time you want to mindlessly hit the like button on an anxiety warrior meme, ask yourself if you’ve earned that. If you haven’t, get up and take a step forward, no matter how small it is.  Then come back and like that meme, then take it a step farther and crow about what you just did. You’ll have earned it, and the world will cheer you on.

Bye bye, paper tiger!

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Founder and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. Graduate student and therapist-in-training. Author and educator on the topic of anxiety disorders and anxiety recovery. Former anxious and depressed person.