“Anxiety Can Steal Your Identity Away, And Make You Believe You Are Something You’re Not.”
Anxiety stole my identity away from me for many years. I believed I was someone that I wasn’t, when in fact I needed to come to the realization that it was something I was doing, not who I was.
- I perceived feelings in a self sabotaging way (health anxiety concerns)
- My thinking style was stuck in catastrophic outcomes, with little evidence to ever support the irrational thoughts
- I acted in ways that kept my fight or flight response on high alert
- I woke up each morning with dread and a worrisome outlook on the day
There’s much more of course, to living with anxiety, but those 4 points give you an intro into the mind of an anxiety sufferer. We begin to believe we ARE what we think. But how could this be? We think up to 70,000 thoughts per day, what were the reasons I attached myself to a handful of thoughts over other more rational ones?
The answer lied in what my minds filter system turned into
My minds filter system, with the help of my past behaviours, had paired up times of day, people, situations, and more to danger. This is where sensitivity comes into play. As the subconscious mind and body move through the world, depending on the childhood data we took in from our authority figures, and recent actions, we became sensitive.
The average person wouldn’t understand this kind of sensitivity though. They’d respond with ‘can’t you just snap out of it?’
This is where a deeper understanding of the cycle that creates the anxiety identity comes into play. I’m going to reveal to you how this level of deep sensitivity becomes who you are. Why is the understanding of this cycle so important? Because it will create clarity and shift your mindset. To recognize the unconscious ways that lead to an anxiety identity is invaluable. It gives you a glimpse into the moulding of your character, your reality.
So let’s get into it…
Step 1 to an anxiety identity – Worry/Alertness
In the first stage of the creation of an anxiety identity a person attaches worry and alertness to safety. Worry can come in the form of worrying over internal feelings/sensations (health anxiety), or external situations (kids, car breaking down etc). The perception of feelings and outside challenges automatically spur on a wave of concern. This concern snowballs from one potential outcome to the next, all the while contributing to stronger and stronger inner limited beliefs about the person.
Mentally, worry becomes the norm, and physically, alertness becomes the reaction. The mind and body are now working in harmony to support the needs of the survival brain (reptilian brain). The result of this is an emotional brain (limbic system) that reacts to the mindset of thoughts, and brings into the persons life more circumstances to achieve worry/alertness.
Step 2 – Certainty
More like perceived certainty actually. Certainty is a human need we all must meet to maintain balance in our lives. The only problem is that we consciously and unconsciously become a slave to it, and disregard all other other human needs such as love and connection and growth.
As worry becomes the norm engrained deep into the anxiety identity, certainty is reached. An anxiety sufferer is certain that if worry is the regular ways of perceiving daily life, they are certain to achieve a similar outcome as they have from the past. This outcome is survival, the physical body will survive if it worries and continues to maintain deep sensitivity. The inner child who hasn’t gone through the process of maturation (growing out of childhood beliefs) still believes that whatever mom and dad did, must be right.
A delusional way to live life to say the least. Worry may bring certainty, but it keeps you living based on traumatic memory
There is no moving forward with this level of certainty. There is only remembering past ways of perceiving a sensation, or external event, followed by the normal action, followed by the expected result (which in the mind of a sufferer is their identity). That’s why you hear so many anxiety identity sufferers claim words such as ‘I am the way I am,’ or ‘I am a worry wart.’ These are called identity statements, and the subconscious mind takes them very seriously. It’s simply a stamp on your anxiety identity.
Step 3 – Narrow mindedness
In step 3 to the creation and maintenance of the anxiety identity, we come to narrow mindedness. A far off world than who we were when we came to this planet. Anything that may bring up a sense of uncertainty gets attached to being wrong, or other rationals we come up with due to our belief systems. The anxiety identity comes up with reasons to stay narrow in thinking, reacting, and acting.
The entire world becomes this little bubble, as danger lurks at every corner. As a person still connects themselves to their identity the cycle grows stronger, and cognitive flexibility get further and further away. At this level everything is good or bad, black or white, and an anxiety sufferers internal world turns into complete chaos.
The anxiety support team made up of friends and family become more confused, as the person with the anxiety identity becomes more fearful to opposing rational and logical viewpoints
Not entirely the anxiety sufferers fault I may add (which isn’t a ticket to stay as a victim though). We’re still living with the primitive brain which prioritizes survival before anything. In todays world survival doesn’t just mean survival of us, it means survival of our reputations, our social connections, our relationships, our collections, our most valued items at home, our deepest passions, our money, everything. We as human beings will do everything we can to avoid pain, and to an anxiety sufferer especially, the biggest type of pain is anything that is unfamiliar.
Step 4 – A sense of self
The thoughts from the left brain become the images and anticipations of the right brain. We become what we feel the most. In this case a person with the anxiety identity connects a sense of self to the thoughts, feelings, and actions that get practiced the most. This forces the anxiety sufferer to look for brief moments of freedom from self. This can be in the form of alcohol, stimulants, partying, gambling, junk food, or more.
These temporary vacations from the anxiety identity become the very thing that the person believes is freedom. It’s the fastest and only way to becoming someone else, for the time being. They become more attached to temporary, quick solutions, and less concerned with long term self mastery work (CBT being the best and most common way to anxiety freedom).
Can the sense of self and the anxiety identity change?
It can. It will surely take a certain amount of courage and willingness to explore. Exploring new possibilities in thought and perceptions, and new perspectives over past emotional traumas that became the core beliefs of a person (this video will help you understand your emotional trauma better).
As dissatisfaction grows, clarity is gained. As clarity is gained a person begins to adopt more logical perspectives over the inner and outer challenges they face. If others can do it so can you, life isn’t meant to be lived solely through the need for certainty.
You’re much more than that, you are more than anxiety!