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How I Curb My Anxiety Around New People

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I have had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I remember crying at night, terrified I had swallowed a piece of glass, or balling my eyes out because of the starving children commercials I had seen.

Having depression had given me an overpowering sense of empathy for others, or maybe it was my empathy that gave me depression. Either way, I had to learn to survive with my condition. I had no idea what it was and I didn’t have any treatment until way into adulthood.

When I was in my 20s, I learned a trick to help curb my anxiety. New people are always the hardest. You do not know them and any new meeting could go either way.

I learned that when I could make them feel at ease and happy, it would also put me at ease. My empathy would also allow me to feel how they felt, and feel outrage when they did, so I would agree and help them in any way I could. I would in a sense treat them how I would want to be treated. I heard that golden rule long ago and had thought “Well, why wouldn’t you?” In life, not everyone has empathy and I feel many don’t have it to the degree I do. It can sometimes consume me — it feels like what the other person is experiencing is happening to me.

When I can make someone smile and be happy, or just laugh for a moment in a world like this, then I feel more at ease. So, maybe I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. I do it for my anxiety. I do it for my depression. I do it for those who may be struggling right now, and you may never know what going on beneath the surface.

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Thinkstock photo via lorenzoantonucci

Originally published: September 9, 2017
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