Externalising Anxiety: Showing Anxiety Who's Boss

You should not be defined by your anxiety. You are not an 'anxious person', you are just FEELING anxious... Spot the difference? Person vs Problem. Just like you are not influenza or cancer. Externalise it.

Name it if you need to. You will have likely heard of the well-known 'black dog' analogy for depression. Don't forget about anxiety too ... you can refer to it as 'the anxiety monster', 'the thief' that steals your confidence, or a 'con-artist' that tricks you into believing you're in danger and persuading you that you cannot cope.

Thinking it's external to you rather than a stable part of your identity will build hope about future improvement. It will therefore increase your motivation to learn coping strategies to tackle it (*picture yourself as an All Black tackling their opponent).

When you acknowledge you are battling an anxiety monster, you may realise that you may need a team with you (*cue Ellie Goulding's song, 'Army').

Whatever you do, try not to judge yourself for experiencing anxiety. It may seem a bizarre concept but there may even be some positives to feeling anxious. It may increase motivation, problem-solving and it may protect you/others from real harm. That is, the anxiety monster may actually be holding up helpful signs about the dangers ahead. So we don't necessarily want to fire 'him', may be just give him clear instructions about how he will control your life, like a traffic warden.

Let me know if you're struggling and need me on the battlefield alongside you.


Dr Sarah Bell-Booth

Clinical Psychologist


Auckland, New Zealand

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© 2020 by Dr Sarah Bell-Booth. Illustrations by Jay Allen