How to Talk to Yourself When Feeling Anxious


When you feel anxious, your mind likely begins to say very scary things (e.g., “What is happening. Why do I feel like this? What is wrong with me? Why are my hands shaking? I can’t handle this.). These questions can create even more fear and intensify any physical symptoms you are already feeling. 

But let’s take a step back for a moment and think about how you would approach someone you care about when they are feeling anxious. I highly doubt you would use these same scary questions with them. Instead, you would likely use a calm sounding voice and words of encouragement in order to create a sense of safety. This same approach can be used on yourself. 

When you notice yourself feeling anxious, try approaching yourself with compassion. One significant factor that helps to create a sense of safety is self-talk (i.e., the words you say to yourself). Shifting your self-talk when feeling anxious is difficult so it might be helpful to create a few post-it notes or notes on your phone to serve as reminders in the moment of what exactly to say. It may feel awkward at first and that’s okay, continue to practice. You’ve likely been practicing your fear inducing self-talk for far longer than your positive self-talk so you’re going to need some time to catch up.

Below are some phrases to get you started and to inspire your own compassionate self-talk.

  • My personal favorite: “In this moment, I am okay.” 
  • “This is really scary and I am going to be okay.” 
  • “This is temporary and will pass.” 
  • “I am safe.” 
  • “My mind is worrying again.” 
  • “I notice that I’m feeling anxious. It’s just a feeling. I’m okay.”

Words are powerful and the words you say to yourself are one of your most valuable assets in the arena with anxiety.

I’m Carolyn Rubenstein, PhD, licensed psychologist.

I believe you can achieve success without fear and struggle. And it’s my mission to help you believe it, too.

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