It can be really hard to see what’s right with us, our life or even the world when we’re experiencing a lot of anxiety. Usually all we can see is what’s “wrong” because that’s the nature of anxiety – it clouds our perception and judgment. We question whether we are good enough as a person. We despair at ever doing anything meaningful with our life or returning to our pre-anxiety self. And we may feel that the world is dark and hopeless, questioning the point of it all.
This outlook is pretty standard thinking/feeling when we are in an anxious state. Think about it, if you’re in a life-or-death situation, you don’t want to waste your time focusing on what’s right and good about that scene, you want to be scanning constantly for the potential dangers and possible solutions. For instance, when you’re hiking in the woods and stumble upon a bear in the middle of the trail, you don’t care how beautiful the sky is; no, you want to be focusing on why the bear is eyeing you the way I eye a jar of Nutella and how you’re going to escape being lunch for said bear. You focus on how to fight or flee your way from that danger. We’re wired to see what’s wrong – real or perceived – when in an anxious state of mind.
A brain on anxiety is like seeing the world through dark-tinted glasses, like wearing sunglasses inside. Everything is dim and dull, individual colors are harder to see, and everything looks gloomy. But when those glasses come off (or when that anxious state passes), everything becomes clear, colors return, and you see the world for what it really is.
It can be hard to remember that your thinking in an anxious state isn’t personal; it’s just what a brain on anxiety looks like. So when you’re in that anxious state and everything looks dark, scary, and hopeless, remind yourself that you are just wearing anxiety-tinted glasses. What you fear is wrong or bad is just a reflection of an anxious state of mind, not of the way things really are. Remember that your anxious brain is scanning for dangers and preparing to fight or flee; everything is going to look a lot more intense than it truly is. When you feel this way, take the scary stories you are innocently telling yourself with a grain (or ten) of salt. Maybe you’re not hideous, but are just having one bad hair day. Maybe your kids don’t hate you, but are just angsty teenagers. Maybe life isn’t pointless, but you’re just having a bad day and things will perk up as they always do. When everything around you seems dark and dull, maybe you just forgot to take off your anxiety-tinted glasses.