Most people who have problems with anxiety delay doing anything about it for a long time. That might seem odd to those without such problems since it’s obvious that no one likes feeling tense, worried, and anxious. Anxiety erodes the quality of one’s life. Why in the world would someone not want to do something about it?

It turns out that there are lots of reasons for struggling to get the show on the road. In writing Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Edition) we took a page from David Letterman, late-night-talk-show host, and listed the top ten reasons (read that “excuses”) people have for procrastinating rather than moving ahead with their anxiety problems:

Number 10: Maybe anxiety isn’t all that bad. Surely, other people have it worse.

Number 9: If I try and fail, I’ll just make a fool out of myself. Everyone will think that I was stupid to try.

Number 8: My anxiety feels too overwhelming to tackle. I couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with it head on.

Number 7: If I tried and didn’t get somewhere, it would make me feel worse than if I did nothing at all. I’d feel like a total failure.

Number 6: Feelings can’t be controlled. You’re just fooling yourself if you think otherwise. You feel the way you feel.

Number 5: I’ll do something about my anxiety when I feel the motivation for doing it. Right now I don’t feel like it. I’ll wait until the motivation hits me.

Number 4: Who would I be without my anxiety? That’s just who I am. I’m simply an anxious person. I wouldn’t know what to do if that changed.

Number 3: I don’t believe I can change. I’ve been this way my whole life.

Number 2: I’m too busy to do anything about my anxiety. I could never work therapy into my schedule.

Number 1: I’m too anxious to do anything about my anxiety. Whenever I consider doing something, it makes me feel even worse.

Do any of these excuses seem familiar to you? Have you spent years thinking about tackling anxiety without actually doing anything? If so, we recommend that you write down the excuses that rattle through your head over and over again. Examine them. Ask yourself if you’re catastrophizing, distorting reality, ignoring evidence to the contrary, or presumptuously predicting the future with your negative thinking (something no one can really do).

Spend some time jotting down counter arguments to your excuses. Also try to realize that change is a gradual process; it’s not something you simply turn off or on like a light switch. Rather, you approach anxiety gradually, one small step at a time. It isn’t so scary when you go at it that way. Start by reading more about anxiety and follow up your reading with a professional appointment. You’ll be glad you did.



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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (June 4, 2010)

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (June 4, 2010)

From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: June 8, 2010 | World of Psychology (June 8, 2010)

    Last reviewed: 4 Jun 2010

APA Reference
Elliott, C. (2010). Reasons Not To Do Anything About Your Anxiety!. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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