Anxiety is one of those things that a lot of people talk about, but few have a full understanding of what anxiety is.
Anxiety can be likened to depression. And like depression, anxiety can be paralyzing, debilitating—it can suck. Anxiety is also like depression in that it can manifest in lots of hidden ways and (after some detective work) is often found to be the culprit for otherwise unacceptable (even anti-social seeming) behavior. We blame kids, in particular, for a lot of “bad” behavior that is actually anxiety being expressed in not-so-great ways.
But knowing something is anxiety gives us more ways to help that kid—or ourselves—when the usual response is criticism and punishment.
What is Good Anxiety?
Unlike depression, there are some healthy levels of anxiety. While depression can be expected and unavoidable at times, there’s rarely much “good” that comes from depression, but there really is Good anxiety.
The not-so-good-anxiety is the anxiety that stops us from doing anything, or that keeps us stuck.
Knowing the difference is crucial. It’s like stress: there’s an optimal level that keeps us motivated, that challenges us, that keeps us out of complacency. And there is also a debilitating, unhealthy, murderous level of stress. How aware we are of the dichotomy is the difference between someone who loves their work and someone who is a workaholic.
We can know that our anxiety is the Good Kind if it alerts us, but doesn’t inhibit us. If it helps us ask healthy questions and examine risk, but not if it paralyses us.
The anxiety that keeps us in the same place we’re in isn’t the anxiety that will help us grow.
If we’re anxious that we will be killed crossing the street, the Bad Anxiety would tell us to never cross a street, that we can remain safe at home.
The Good Anxiety tells us to look both ways.
Thank goodness that chicken didn’t have the debilitating anxiety or we’d never have everyone’s least favorite joke.
Anxiety is also a mental health issue that men are more open to saying they have. While it can be just as debilitating, there are more men who are willing to talk about their “anxiety” than there are men who will admit to feeling “depressed.” It’s amazing how gendered these things can get—and how they limit our asking for help to get out of these ruts.
Originally appeared on Counseling for Men.
Photo by Pixabay.