Your anxiety is not a reflection of your strength and your anxiety is not a deficit in your faith. I put a video out on Instagram where I talked about why your anxiety is not a deficit in your faith. I got a lot of good feedback from women that the video spoke to them. I encourage you to watch it.
So here’s the thing- we are all experiencing an increased level of stress. It’s in the air. Even if you are enjoying your self-isolation, even if you are not really affected by the pandemic, the anxious energy is affecting you. And if you are reading this decade in the future it all still applies, because life brings stress.
Stress Vs. Anxiety
Stress doesn’t have to equal anxiety, but it is definitely the gateway drug for anxiety. So, what’s the difference? Stress is external. It is a bombardment of outside things. Stress is moving, it’s having a baby, it’s losing a job, it’s a global pandemic. It’s happening outside of you.
Anxiety is internal. When you open the door to stress and say “come on in! Mi casa es su casa”, stress has turned into anxiety, which is the physical and emotional manifestation of stress.
Managing Stress And Anxiety
Stress will always be there. I think we should work hard to remove drama from our lives, but it is not productive to try to remove stress. We need to know how to manage stress and manage anxiety when we have let stress in the door. And it’s also not possible to completely rid ourselves of anxiety. The people who seem to have done that are just super good at managing it, so that they are stopping it very early after it’s stuck its foot in the door.
I have a number of clients who judge their own anxiety. They are strong women who feel that if they are strong enough, if their faith is deep enough, if they are smart enough, then they wouldn’t have anxiety. But anxiety is a human condition. If even Jesus experienced anxiety (watch my insta video where I talk about that), then you will too, because you can not escape your humanity until you are dead.
What Is A Strong Woman?
First, let’s just get a working definition of a strong woman. I have begun this definition of what I think a strong woman is. I don’t feel like it’s perfect yet, but it’s a good base for what we’re talking about today.
A strong woman is someone who shares her opinions and speaks her truth- even when she is afraid. She listens but refuses to accept other problems as her own. She can be leaned on but is nobody’s doormat. She leads well but possesses the wisdom to submit to leadership. She takes calculated risks and makes her failures work for her. She knows when to persevere and when to quit. She prays for wisdom over wealth or power. She is filled with kindness, generosity, faith, compassion, integrity, and a willingness to be vulnerable. No matter what, she is true to herself.
If you are thinking, “but I’m not strong… That definition is not me!” Please know that is an aspirational definition. No one is all of that, all of the time. I am not, nor will I likely ever be on a consistent basis. But that is who I strive to be. And in striving, I get closer and more consistent every day.
Why Strong Women Have More Anxiety
Strong women (and those striving to be) sometimes have an extra dose of anxiety for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, strong women take on more stress. If you are adept at what you do, if you have grown stronger in an area or multiple areas of your life, you will naturally take on more than a woman who has not, which increases opportunities for anxiety to take hold.