When You're Always Anxious Someone Is Angry at You
If I had a dime for each time I’ve needlessly asked someone if they’re angry at me, I’d have a whole lot of dimes. Most of the time, the thought they might be angry at me is all in my head. With my anxiety comes a lot of insecurity. Irrational guilt is the feeling you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t. This can be caused by anxiety, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem, and sometimes even paranoia. It’s a frustrating and consuming cycle — a fractured and inaccurate view of the world’s feelings.
It’s actually a pretty vicious cycle too. I ask someone if they’re angry at me so much at times that it becomes annoying. It can even cause someone to get angry at me, and that’s horrible and can be damaging to relationships. Irrational guilt is assuming someone’s bad mood was caused by you, not by things like a rough day at work or conflict with a friend. It’s thinking that, if someone is distant, it’s because you’ve offended them or said something wrong when they might just be taking a nap or watching a show. It’s seeing one of those open-ended “I’m angry at someone” Facebook posts by a friend and thinking what you might have done. Everyone does something wrong sometimes, but insecurity tells you that you do things wrong all the time.
I can look at those situations and know I didn’t do anything wrong, but then the “what ifs” overtake me and I almost convince myself I have. Anxiety layered with insecurity is so destructive because you’re already worried but then anxiety amplifies that feeling even more. Too much of my time has been spent feeling guilty about nothing; I’ve wasted too many words asking that question over and over. I’ve gotten better at stopping myself, of typing it in the text box and not sending it. It’s difficult to overcome insecurity and work on raising your self-esteem enough to realize you’re not this terrible person who damages people’s lives with your actions. You’re not a terrible person and this guilt that feels so real actually isn’t.
To the people in my life, I want to say I’m sorry that I ask you if you’re angry at me, but more importantly, I want you to know why. My insecurity is driving my actions, my anxiety is pushing down the gas pedal and I’m focused on holding on tight when I should be trying to take back the wheel. When I’m asking irrationally, I know you aren’t angry at me — what I’m actually asking for is reassurance. Reassurance is the enemy of irrational guilt in many ways. The relief that reassurance offers can be very helpful, but it doesn’t always last. It’s not fair to someone to ask for reassurance over and over; you have to go back to the source of the problem to gain lasting relief and rational thought. The ability to stop and say, “Does this make sense?” Because most of the time it doesn’t, and once you have that clarity you can focus on what’s important. I will never completely stop asking this, but I can work on stopping and remind myself to think things through and fight my insecurity. So I’m asking for your patience and understanding; it’s not a trust issue, it’s part of my mental illness. It’s, unfortunately, the very cliché phrase — it’s not you, it’s me.
Thinkstock photo via pecaphoto77