Three Lies People with High Functioning Anxiety Tell Themselves: Part 2

Last 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.

Missed part 1? Head over here.

Three lies we tell ourselves:

1. I can break the time/space continuum.

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

3. One mistake means we are complete failures. (coming next week)

Last week I looked at lie #1

Today let’s break down Lie #2: I don’t need help, also known as asking for help is a personal weakness.

Asking for help is hard. It is way more challenging than just speaking up because it brings out our Monger who spreads other lies:

  • You SHOULD be able to do everything.
  • You would be a better person if you could do everything.
  • THEY won’t be able to do it as well as you.

I saw this first hand recently. We went camping, I have inflammatory arthritis, so I knew I would not be able to physically do as much as I usually would. Which, of course, my Monger was having a field day with. My husband said to me, “You know you aren’t a BAD person if you can’t do it all.” I nodded and smiled, believing him that I wasn’t a bad person.

And then in all his wisdom, he said, “You know you won’t be a BETTER person if you do it all yourself.” That stopped me in my tracks. I turned and looked at him, and for a minute, my brain was processing what he said, “Wait a minute, you mean I won’t be BETTER?” I thought. And then I laughed out loud because I KNEW I wouldn’t be bad if I couldn’t do as much, but I was telling myself I would be better if I didn’t ask for help—such a toxic message. In reality, I won’t be bad or good. I will just be me. If I ask for help, I will be me, and if I don’t ask for help, I will be me just more miserable. 🙂

We know we won’t be bad people if we ask for help, but we tell ourselves we will be better people if we don’t. Pay attention to how much that belief comes up for you. The truth is we attach our workload to our worthiness. The more we do, the better we are. This is the ultimate lie that is keeping us stuck in hustle and overworking. We feel shame, it triggers our anxiety, we over function to prove the shame wrong which leads to more anxiety, and then we beat ourselves up for not being able to do more with less anxiety. And round and round we go.

So my first tip for this week is to build in time to pause in your day. We get so caught up in the hustle that we keep taking on more and more. When we can build in pause time, we can ask ourselves, do I need to ask for help here? Am I taking on too much? Who can I ask for help?

A couple of thoughts on the practicality of asking for help: Asking for help brings some practical problems: what if they say no? What if they are annoyed at me? What if they don’t do it as well?

1. They can always say no to your request, and you can always negotiate. For example, you ask your spouse to help by doing the laundry, and he says he doesn’t have the time he has a work deadline. You can counter by asking if he has time to sort the laundry and start one load, and you will finish it.

2. They might get annoyed at you that you are asking for help. This is hard. We don’t ask for help because we don’t want anyone mad at us. AND part of building self-loyalty is knowing people will get annoyed, and that is ok. They can be annoyed and do what we ask them, and they will get over it. Often, I see clients who have gone from doing it all to asking for help, and the people in their lives are like “what is happening?!?” and can get a little upset about it. You have changed the rules, and people don’t like it when the rules change. That doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, it just means it will be uncomfortable.

3. They probably won’t do as good of a job. A challenging part of asking for help is letting go of the final product. They are going to do it differently and maybe not as good as if you did the task (gasp!) I know for us perfectionists that can be so hard! But learning to let other people get annoyed and struggle because of something we asked them to do is ok. We want to save them and take over. Resist that desire. Remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect, there is always a learning curve (for you and the person you asked), and it gets easier in time.

So to summarize:

  1. Build in pause time to ask yourself do I need to ask for help here? Am I taking on too much? Who can I ask for help?
  2. Remember to negotiate if you receive a no.
  3. If they are annoyed with you, remind yourself it is ok. Be kind to yourself, give yourself extra love, “It is hard to ask for help and have someone be annoyed they are allowed to have their feelings and I need help it is ok to ask. This will pass.”
  4. If they don’t do it as well or I have to spend a lot of time teaching them how that is ok. We are all learning. Next time I ask for help it will go smoother.

Try that this week and let me know how it goes. Next week I will share how to start unhooking lie number three.