Advertising
Advertising

20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

General anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that is categorized by persistent worrying. It differs from other anxiety disorders in that there is no specific cause of the anxiety, unlike social anxiety, for example. (Social anxiety is categorized by worry that impacts a person when they are in a social setting.)
People suffering from General Anxiety Disorder often experience symptoms that make daily activities difficult.

Here are a few things that people with General Anxiety Disorder want you to know so that you can better understand our struggle:

1. We can’t control when we get anxious

It’s a wave of worry that just overcomes us, sometimes when we least expect it. We try our best to push it down and continue to do what we are supposed to be doing, but sometimes it is too strong for us to control.

2. Forcing us into doing things doesn’t make the anxiety go away

When people force us into situations we feel anxious about, it actually makes the anxiety worse. When we feel anxious about a situation, we want to come to terms with our anxiety and make the decision to either go or back out. Being forced into a situation makes us feel trapped, which in turn makes us anxious and frustrated.

3. We feel really helpless when we start feeling anxious

Sometimes our anxiety shows up at the worst possible time. We may want to do certain things but our anxiety overtakes us and stops us from doing what we want to do. This leaves us feeling helpless. It also doesn’t help when people tell us that we should just go do what we want to do without letting things stop us, because it’s something that we can’t really control.

Advertising

4. We get anxious at the thought of being anxious

When we feel our anxiety coming along, that actually makes us more nervous. Anxiety has a way worsening at really inconvenient times. When we are in situations that require us to be at our best and our anxiety shows up, it actually makes us more anxious, which is not fun at all.

5. We can’t just push through it

There are times when we can push it down and try to focus our attention on other things. There are other times when it overcomes us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. When people tell us to push through, it makes us feel like it is our responsibility to try and overcome it when in reality we can’t always control our experience of the disorder.

6. We are often crippled by our anxiety

There are so many things we actually want to do and wish we could do, but we are stopped because of our anxiety. Contrary to what many people think, people with general anxiety disorder aren’t lazy. We are stopped from doing many things because our anxiety holds us back.

7. We are grateful when people try and accommodate our anxiety when making plans

When friends consider how we get anxious when making plans and they try to accommodate our anxiety, we really appreciate it. Friends who make sure there is a fixed plan and time, pick you up, and make sure you get home safe are the best.

8. We feel frustrated when we have to cancel plans

When our anxiety takes over and we have to back out of plans we have made, we feel really frustrated. We want you to understand that it’s not that we are flaky. We didn’t want to cancel, and doing so leaves us feeling very frustrated, and at times really depressed.

Advertising

9. We don’t like being asked if we wish we were normal

This is the worst thing you could possibly ask us. It makes us feel even more singled out and frustrated than we already do. When our anxiety is bad, and it holds us back we actually suffer a great deal. You asking us if we wished we were normal doesn’t help that at all.

10. We understand that our anxieties are irrational more often than not

We know when we worry about the things that we worry about, it often has no solid foundation. We know that sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. We appreciate it when you take the time to calm our anxieties down even when you know they are irrational.

11. When we feel anxious, our senses are heightened

When our anxiety starts, we feel things more intensely. Sounds are louder than they should be and we feel very hot. It makes it easier for us to calm down when we are in open spaces with fresh, cool air.

12. We often feel proud of ourselves for doing things

Things that may seem small and insignificant to you may be a big deal for us. When we do things like give presentations, or even get on a plane successfully, we feel really proud of ourselves. People don’t really understand how hard some of these things are for us. We feel happy when you acknowledge how hard it was and how we did do a big thing by carrying it out.

13. We can’t explain why our anxiety is triggered when we are in certain places

When you ask us why we feel this way or what happened to make us anxious, we can’t really give you a straight answer. When our anxiety comes, sometimes we have no idea what triggered it.

Advertising

14. Asking us to breathe and do calming exercises doesn’t work. So please stop.

Thank you for all your breathing techniques, but we have tried them all and they don’t work. Once the anxiety has started the breathing techniques don’t really help much. We prefer leaving the situation and going somewhere with fresh air. The thing that helps the most is going somewhere we feel comfortable to help us calm down.

15. Sometimes we just wake up with anxiety and there’s nothing we can do about it

There are times when we wake up in the morning feeling anxious and we know that we’ll be feeling that way the whole day. We like to lay low and do minimally stimulating things on days like this to lower the effects of the anxiety.

16. Caffeine is our worst enemy

Caffeine is the devil, in terms of making us feel even more jittery. However, this doesn’t stop many of us from drinking it, as we may need it to carry out daily activities. So, we  often have to deal with the nasty side effects of caffeine on our anxiety.

17. We are plagued by terrible thoughts when we leave our comfort zone

When we leave our comfort zone, we constantly worry about things like if we left the stove on, or if we forgot to lock the front door. It’s something we struggle with daily and most of us have come up with ways of trying to rid ourselves of these thoughts.

18. It doesn’t help us when you talk down to us

Don’t treat us like we are children. Just because we feel anxious doesn’t mean our brains have melted. We understand what you are saying, we just need time to calm down.

Advertising

19. We really don’t appreciate it when you tell us it’s all in our heads

Trust me, the feeling is very real and very strong. It’s a feeling we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, so saying that it’s all in our heads ultimately isn’t useful at all.

20. We really do appreciate it when you understand it’s something we can’t control

When people understand that our anxiety is something completely out of our control, it actually makes it a lot easier for us. It takes away the worry that you won’t like us anymore, and the worry of having have to explain to someone what is going on. It also reduces our anxiety a great deal to have someone who understands what we are going through in our presence.

Featured photo credit: mamnaimie piotr via flickr.com

More by this author

10 Signs of a Toxic Friend that You’ve Probably Never Realised What People With Anxiety Want Their Loved Ones To Say 20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand 8 Traits Of People Who Build Extraordinary Relationships 8 Struggles Only Easily Distracted People Would Understand

Trending in Communication

1 How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward 2 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 3 How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 4 This 4-Year Old Girl’s Explanation On the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions Is Everything You Need 5 What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

Advertising

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Advertising

1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

Advertising

5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

Advertising

If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next