What do you do when you feel anxious? Most of us have some automatic responses to anxiety — but sometimes our automatic response isn’t helpful. One way you can deal more effectively with anxiety is to learn the difference between emotional and intellectual functioning. Try to bring balance between them so that you respect your emotions while also relying on your intellect to help you choose how to act when faced with anxiety.
When we function emotionally in the face of anxiety, we often focus outward. Anxiety can make you feel out of control. So it feels more natural to look to other people for how to handle a situation, rather than trust yourself.
If you’re functioning emotionally, you might distance yourself from others, or, conversely, go out of your way to seek their attention and approval. You may focus on their stress, which causes your own anxiety to spike. This can also make you feel that it’s their responsibility to either calm you down, or change their behavior to allow you to calm yourself down.
These are natural reactions, but they often increase your stress rather than help you to overcome it. A better way to function in the face of anxiety is to use the power of intellectual functioning.
Intellectual functioning takes some practice, but it’s much more effective in helping you to control anxiety. When you function intellectually, you put the focus back on what you can control: yourself.
When you function intellectually, you can take a step back and evaluate yourself with greater objectivity. Because you have a clearer picture of yourself, you aren’t as dependent on praise from others, nor are you likely to be as hurt by criticism.
As you become more adept at functioning intellectually, you also become more skilled at examining your anxiety so that you can learn from it, rather than immediately trying to get rid of it.
Choosing How to Function
It’s important to realize that different situations will call for different types of functioning. Balance is key. If you only function emotionally when faced with anxiety, it can lead to more stress and conflict. On the other hand, if you only ever function intellectually, you run the risk of becoming distant in your relationships. The most important thing is to learn the difference between the emotional and the intellectual and learn how to choose which function you will employ. This puts you in control and enables you to act, rather than simply react, when you feel anxious.
As you look at the differences between emotional and intellectual functioning, which do you employ most frequently? What would you say is your automatic mode of function? Think about the ways you automatically react to anxiety, and come up with ideas on how you can change so that you are acting in the ways that you want. Choosing is liberating, and by learning to function intellectually in the face of anxiety, you’ll be able to reclaim a sense of your true self.