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Three Lies People with High Functioning Anxiety Tell Themselves: Part 1

Earlier this week I decided we need a collective High Functioning Anxiety intervention 🙂 Lately, I have noticed with myself, and my clients there are lies we tell ourselves to keep ourselves in the unhealthy cycle of over-functioning—feel anxiety/shame—keep over functioning. We tell ourselves these lies with positive intent: get more done and avoid feeling anxious. But these lies are hurting us and keeping us from healing our anxiety.

1. I can break the time/space continuum.

I say this jokingly, but I hear it all the time (and have personally experienced it). We have a long to-do list. So long, there is absolutely no way we will complete everything on the list in one day. We won’t even come close. And yet, we begin each day by telling ourselves we should complete everything on the list, and then at the end of the day, when we realize we didn’t, our Monger steps in to tell us how terrible we are at time management. It isn’t time management; it is our unrealistic expectations and our inability to see ourselves as humans not machines.

2. I don’t need help, also known as asking for help is a personal weakness.

We can do it all. Because if we ask for help: a. Our Monger will beat us up for being weak and asking for help. b. And even if we ask for help, “they” won’t do it the right anyway.

So better just do it ourselves. Even though our to-do list runneth over and anyone could see we aren’t able to do it all alone, we swallow the lie that we can’t ask for help.

3. One mistake means we are complete failures.

Forget to add an ingredient to a recipe; through the whole thing out. Make a mistake on a presentation at work; you are definitely getting fired. You didn’t have time to play with our child one day; you are a TERRIBLE Mom, and your child is destined to be a screen zombie for the rest of their lives. We live in extremes, and we don’t give ourselves any room for error.

These mistakes are intentionally tongue and cheek to bring out the extreme of them. However, when you start paying attention, you will see these lies come up over and over again.

Over the next few weeks, I will be diving deeper into each of these lies.

Here are some things to do when you start noticing your tendency to want to break the rules of time and space.

When you sit down to write your to-do list, create two lists. The master list of ALL the things and then the realistic list. The realistic list is all the things you can HUMANLY get done in a day. Honestly, editing this list is going to be hard because the beliefs that we can do it all and that everything on the list is a top priority is strong.

As you are writing your list:

  • Take a breath
  • Do a full-body movement (wiggle, stretch, dance)
  • Check-in with yourself, how are you feeling today both physically and mentally? Believe it or not, there are days you will get more done than others because you feel more rested, or your head is more clear. Our Monger tells us how we feel physically and mentally doesn’t matter because we are machines who can do it all. which is another lie. Building self-loyalty means we check-in with ourselves and give ourselves kindness not just hammer ourselves into submission.
  • Ask yourself how many hours do I have to devote to this list?
  • Ask yourself again how many hours do I have to devote to this list? Because you might not have been realistic. I know I tell myself I have 6 hours when in reality, I only have 4 (remember eating, drinking water, moving my body, responding to the relationships in my life take time.)
  • Write the realistic list based on your answers above. Keeping in mind how you are feeling physically and mentally and the hours in the day. I aim for 3-4 items on the list. You can always go back and add more things if you complete the items.
  • Celebrate! At the end of the day, when you check off all the things on your realistic list, take time to celebrate!! Too often, we move right on to the next item on the list without celebrating.

Try that this week and let me know how it goes. Stay tuned, over the next couple of weeks, I will share how to start unhooking the other two lies.