Anxious about being anxious

It started with schoolwork; now I’m worried about everything. 

Our elder knows all about negative thoughts. Talk to your parents, get some help, and start with small steps, she says.


Dear EWC


Hello, I think I am developing an anxiety disorder, and I want to stop it because it is getting harder to concentrate at school. Although I know I can finish all of my schoolwork, it feels like I cannot. It is hard to concentrate, and every time that I start doing it, I always have this feeling that my answers or my outputs are not enough. I feel like it is a piece of crap and I am not good at anything. I don’t know what to do anymore. I often get irritated, especially with my parents, and I feel so bad. I don’t like it when they call my name as I attempt to do my homework when in the first place, I don’t want to do it. I am also always jumpy or easily get startled. I tried to stop it because others often call me dramatic or very sensitive. I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know what to do anymore. Please, help me.


Barbara replies


Sometimes when I had a problem, I’d start thinking and one negative thought would spawn another and before I knew it, I’d sink into depression and self-loathing. That’s what you are doing. It’s like sliding down a slippery slope and it’s hard to stop. One thing to do is to stop and look at each thought, one at a time, and see what you can do or know to be true so you can change your thinking. That is hard to do by yourself. I needed the help of a therapist or later in life my husband in order to stop being mired in miserable thoughts.


Your trip seems to begin with the belief that you cannot do your school work well enough. You write that you know it’s not true but that doesn’t seem to help you. So, I would guess that there are other thoughts, maybe even subconscious thoughts, that make you feel that way. As a child, I always felt that I wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter what I did, how good my grades were, I had parents who didn’t know how to give love, and I felt rejected by them. Since young kids think their parents are like gods, I figured there was something wrong with me. That basic feeling has never been completely erased. I have learned to cope with it most of the time. 


Can you talk honestly to your parents about how you feel? Can you tell them that you act the way you do because you are having emotional problems? If not, is there a way you can talk to a counselor at school or get into therapy? You are absolutely not alone. Many people, especially teenage students, feel the way you do. Almost all of them get through this phase by just keeping at it, putting one foot in front of the other. But when I went into therapy, I was told that crisis has two meanings in Chinese, one is danger and the other is opportunity. I chose to use the urgent feelings I had to push me to confront my problems and see if I could learn how to make my life better. It really helped.


Often a thought provokes an emotion and we’re off. It feels like we have no control over our feelings. But we can reason and try to change our thoughts. Sometimes it’s just realizing that instead of listening to our negative thoughts, we can just do the next math problem in our homework. If you feel like you won’t be able to do all of your homework, for instance, just decide to do the next piece of it. And once you do that one bit, congratulate yourself. Often, we turn our attention to what we can’t do and ignore, as if it isn’t important, what we do accomplish. That’s why we feel like a failure — because we only pay attention to the few times, we do not perform the way we want to.


In summary, your thoughts and feelings are not unusual but they are getting in the way of your experiencing the joy in life. The easiest way to change the way you are dealing with your life is to get help. If that’s not possible, you can watch videos or read self-help books. Hay House has many authors I found inspirational. Also, sometimes when I hear myself having negative thoughts about myself, I try to imagine I’m dealing with a friend and ask myself what I’d say to her. We are much kinder and more supportive to others. Hang in there. Pay attention to what you’re thinking and take control. One warning. It’s not possible to go from believing you’re a failure to believing you’re terrific in one step. When you’re having negative thoughts, you cannot just tell yourself to be happy. But you can think that, hey I did my homework yesterday so I’ll probably be able to at least do this next assignment. Take small steps that you can believe in. 


Good luck.


Article #: 481960

Category: School

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