Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling. Your heart may race. Your stomach may be in knots. You may have trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating. But the very thing that makes you uncomfortable is often absolutely necessary if you want to make some positive change in your life.

Untreated or longstanding anxiety is certainly not good for your health. It’s a marker of stress, and too much of it for too long can lead to permanent damage to your body and your mind.

But there IS something very positive about anxiety. There’s a lot in common between anxiety and change, even good change.

Therapy is a great option for many people when something in their life is not going well. But some who go to therapy leave the very same way as they started. Researchers interviewed individuals who had made a significant and lasting change as a result of therapy to find out what made the difference. They found two conditions that had to be present for people to be able to change:

  1. A sense that the change was absolutely necessary, and
  2. A willingness to experience significant anxiety or discomfort during the change process.

Fully 75% of those who were successful in making some change in their life had felt significant anxiety in doing so. And those who were unwilling to experience a significant degree of anxiety generally weren’t able to change.

That just goes to show that change is hard! Our mind and body is programmed to do things the way we’ve always known. Doing something new makes us anxious. It takes a great deal of time and energy to make any real lifestyle change or relationship change.

SO, if you need to make a change, be prepared to feel anxious. Perhaps VERY anxious for a period of time.

That change may be:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Getting rid of negative thinking
  • Learning a new job
  • Moving a destructive friend out of your life
  • Quitting an addiction
  • Learning new ways of facing conflict with your spouse
  • Getting away from an abusive relationship
  • Taking on an important responsibility

If you’re feeling anxious, it might not be because you’re doing anything wrong. It’s possible you are doing something RIGHT!

Your Turn: Have you made any significant change in your life? Were you anxious during the process? Leave a comment below. 

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