Anxiety likes to convince you that everyone hates you. Personally, it tells me that everyone I’ve met, people I haven’t met yet, and people I’ve been friends with for years secretly can’t stand me. Somehow my brain likes to say, “Hey! Here are some made-up scenarios and worst-case scenarios, and they’re all going to come true.” It can be really hard to prove to myself that my thoughts aren’t rational and are completely untrue.
However, you shouldn’t lose hope if you’re in a similar situation. Here are three coping strategies that can help you stay grounded and truthful when you start worrying that everyone actually hates you:
1. Ground yourself.
Anxiety can make you feel like you’ve lost control of your mind. If you feel like you’re spiraling and you can’t stay in a rational headspace, try using grounding techniques like “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding.” You can write down 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you smell, 2 things you’re touching, and 1 thing you taste. It can help bring you back to the present moment. This technique takes your mind off of the cloudiness and instead focuses you on your surroundings.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to think more rationally about your loved ones. You won’t feel like you’re going down a dark hole, thinking they all hate you.
2. Check the facts.
There’s no real evidence that these people hate you, but when you feel yourself spiraling, the smallest things can seem like big problems. They didn’t laugh at your joke, they didn’t call you back, they couldn’t hang out when you asked them. You might start to wonder if they’re avoiding you or secretly hate you. Instead, you should check the facts. Make a list of facts about yourself and your relationships. Write down how long you’ve known them, the things you’ve been through together, the nice things they’ve said or done for you, and anything else that comes to mind. Any time you begin to worry if they even like you, you can re-read your list to put your mind at ease.
3. Reach out to a friend!
In my experience, there’s no better way to prove that your facts are indeed facts besides reaching out directly to a close friend. Never feel like you can’t be honest. If you’re having a hard time and need a little support, then tell your friend! They’ll be more than happy to reaffirm how much they care for you.
These are some of the strategies I use to combat the cyclical thinking that anxiety causes. I hope they can help you too. Anxiety is manageable and you’re not alone in this.