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The Suffocating Way Anxiety Makes Me Believe I’m Not Good Enough

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Self-esteem can be a difficult thing for anyone to be secure in, but when you live with anxiety, it can often feel like you’re constantly pulling against an unstoppable force that’s pulling in the other direction and taking with it your sense of self-worth.

I have never felt completely comfortable with my own levels of self-esteem. I’ve never been completely confident in my own abilities, regardless of the situation. Looking back at the last few years though, I can see this has changed. I have worked hard to focus on my self-confidence, on my own self-worth, and I am better off for it.

But often — when anxiety whispers in my ear — I am gripped by the suffocating thought that “I’m not good enough.” What’s worse about the hand anxiety plays in this is that it has the power to make me believe I should give up on the things I love, the things that genuinely give me happiness. I’ve always had a passion for music, and one of the few things that allows me to enjoy myself is drumming. Being behind a drum kit is one of limited places where I feel genuinely comfortable in my own skin. I love it. I’m good at it. But anxiety would have me believe otherwise.

When it wraps its fingers around me, the enjoyment and love I have for this activity is siphoned off. With every hit of a cymbal comes with it a sound wave of self-doubt. With every beat of a drum, a vibration of uncertainty. Instead of a rhythm, all I hear is: “Stop. Give up. You’re not good enough.” I know this is untrue; I know I am good at this thing I love. But the louder I play, the louder the thoughts get — and the more I believe them.

This is just one example in a sea of situations where anxiety can take away from an experience or activity by feeding upon my well of self-esteem (regardless of how full or dried up that well may be at the time). It can — and often does — affect my relationships with other people and alters my general day-to-day interactions.

Everyone must haggle with their self-esteem. It can take dips from tiny bits of criticism or be lifted by even minimal praise. But when the criticism is coming from inside your own head, it’s hard not to believe it.

Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Originally published: June 18, 2018
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