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Question from Formspring: Pre-Wired for Anxiety?

April 11, 2012

Here’s a question that came in via Formspring:

Any advice for people who seem to be pre-wired for anxiety? High-strung, neurotic, easily stressed… Assuming healthy diet and regular exercise are already in place, and no major hardships like unemployment/recent deaths… just always been that way!

Hi there, thanks for the question! I wrote about something similar in this article on overcoming perfectionism.

But basically, I think you need to expose yourself to real stress and problems in order to give your internal stress barometer a sense of perspective. I managed to reset mine by running a company and failing and having the sheriff lock me out of my own office for nonpayment of rent and then declaring bankruptcy, which I can’t exactly recommend, but I do recommend risk-taking of the non- “147 Hours” variety — the kind where you maybe fuck up your reputation and credit a bit, but you keep both arms and you feel ready to be an entrepreneur again and you’re not scared by ridiculous things like job interviews or dates or performance reviews or clients saying no when you raise your rates.

Just TRYING REALLY HARD TO RELAX isn’t going to work. As I’m sure you know.

You could raise money and go to Ethiopia and help build schools …just as one example.

Or become an EMT. Save a few lives and watch a few people die. Whatever it is inside you that keeps making noise about small things will probably get the message.

I hope that helps! I’m sure if you’re writing to me, you didn’t expect easy advice. (“Take a bubble bath and really nurture yourself!” Fuck that.)

Sincerely,
Jen

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