As anxious people, we tend to view the world from an anxiously-skewed, biased perspective. We wear anxiety goggles everywhere we go and these goggles hold the lenses with which we view the world. These lenses are created by our past experiences and by our biological make-up, and they get higher in prescription over time. What this means is that anxious individuals judge particular situations as more worrisome, threatening, and concerning than less anxious people.

The challenge with having these invisible yet powerful goggles on is that they force us to exert effort to constantly monitor the world around us – people, places, situations, etc. – and to be on alert for any potential threats. Our anxiety goggles have a low threshold for danger and are therefore frequently telling us that we should be fearful of something.

If you are someone who wears these goggles, in what I imagine is an unfashionable manner, here are some useful strategies:

1)      Look in the mirror and see yourself wearing these goggles, metaphorically of course. It’s important to recognize our anxious tendencies and how we typically approach things from a fearful standpoint. This acknowledgement allows us to create distance from our anxious selves and view the anxiety goggles as simply an unnecessary accessory that clouds our view of the world. The lenses of the goggles and the goggles themselves are able to be changed and removed over time.

2)      Tell yourself that your anxious thoughts are not factual. Thoughts are ideas, creations, and beliefs that we generate. When we take in information from our biased lenses, our thoughts are going to be more troublesome in nature. Having the knowledge that our thoughts do not directly translate into reality can help us re-frame stimuli that may feel like crises as more neutral stimuli.

3)      Act in opposition to your inclination. When we perceive a situation as threatening, our natural instinct may be to fight (behave aggressively) or flight (avoid or escape). These inclinations are controlled by our anxiety goggles. Notice what your mind and body are telling you to do when you feel anxious and act opposite to that, thereby exposing yourself to new behaviors, proving to yourself that you can handle them.

When we put it all together, an understanding of our anxious tendencies helps us reshape our thoughts and our behaviors, ultimately shifting our anxious emotions slowly but surely. Unlike regular prescription glasses, anxiety goggles do not serve a beneficial purpose. Instead, they keep us stuck in our anxious ways.

Your goggles are now considered vintage, take them off and never look back.

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About the Author: Stephanie Gilbert
I am a mental health therapist licensed in both Washington, DC, and Maryland. Additionally, I am a Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional. I specialize in working with teenagers and young adults, primarily those struggling with anxiety. I utilize techniques from CBT and ACT appraoches, but I modify my work to best suit the needs of my clients. I strongly believe in the rapport-building process and feel that a positive, trusting relationship is ultimately the key to growth. I have worked in this field for almost 10 years in a variety of roles and settings. My experience includes providing direct therapy services, mediating crisis situations, and administering neuropsychological assessments of clients for schools, homes, community-based organizations, and group practices. I have also supervised interns and other mental health professionals. I earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Maryland and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development from the University of Maryland Honors College.

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