Anxiety is often misunderstood and stigmatised, and this is especially true for high achievers who believe that they shouldn't struggle with feelings of anxiousness.
However, the truth is that we all have mental health just like we all have physical health, and that regardless of your profession, achievements or success; you can experience anxiety.
Over the past decade, I have supported 1000’s of high achievers, teaching them to swap self doubt for more confident decisive action.
Here, I have taken inspiration from our conversions and I feel it is important to debunk these myths and raise awareness about the realities of experiencing anxiety for high achievers. If this sounds like you, then read on below.
1. Myth 1: ‘I’m naturally positive, so I shouldn’t feel this way: High achievers don't struggle with feeling anxiety.
This myth is not only untrue but also harmful. High achievers are just as susceptible to feelings of anxiety as anyone else.
I know you can feel this huge pressure to succeed and often experience ‘superman/superwomen’ syndrome - thinking you have to do it all yourself.
This can cause a significant fear of failure and can often contribute to anxiety among high achievers.
I know you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, so, don’t be harsh on yourself, if you experience this.
Pause, for a moment and consider everything you’re managing: work deadlines, personal relationships, conflicts with colleagues, health, hobbies and family dynamics, all of life's challenges.
Let’s, you and I, normalise anxiety, it is natural to feel anxious, yet, you can work on recognising it and then focus on how you can respond - so that your anxiety doesn’t become overwhelming.
2. Myth 2: ‘I feel like a fraud & a failure’ (Anxiety is a result of personal weakness or character flaws)
The amount of times in my 1:1 coaching calls that I have heard this: ‘I feel silly for feeling this way’.
Judging yourself for feeling anxious, viewing this as a weakness or flaw and expecting yourself not to feel this way. Telling yourself to "just snap out of it" is not only unhelpful, but also dismissive of yourself and your needs.
It is important to recognise that feeling anxiety is not a sign of weakness and that seeking help from an experienced professional is a sign of strength and valuing yourself and your happiness.
3. Myth 3: You are in a Senior Position at Work, therefore, you are Immune
I know people turn to you for support.
You are caring, kind and supportive and, you are a a role model to many (whether you recognise that or not).
Stop and pause for a second and consider all those people in and outside of work who seek you out to talk - people come to you for your advice and for your support.
And, with this, you are so used to ‘putting on a brave face’ and pretending you are fine and, often you find yourself saying ‘it’s all fine’, when actually, underneath it’s not.
You need to acknowledge that you are struggling too. The pressure to keep it all together and lead others can feel a lot at times. Remember, you are human too and you’re not immune to emotions.
Consider the advice that you would give if someone came to you for advice; encouraging others to take a proactive approach to manage anxiety.
Could you give yourself permission to follow your own advice?
4. Myth 4: High achievers who experience anxiousness can't handle pressure.
Feeling anxiety is not a weakness and does not mean you cannot handle life’s pressures.
In fact, in my experience the women and men I coach are often some of the strongest and most resilient people that I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.
Pause for a moment and consider your own story: what have you overcome? Recognise all that you have been through and what you have survived.
I know there are many storms that you have weathered and yet, you are here; softer, stronger and much more resilient that ever before.
If you stop ‘fighting’ your emotions, allow yourself to feel them and pro-actively learn how to manage these feelings; it will enable you to feel confident to handle the natural ebbs and flows of life. I promise.
5. Myth 5: ‘I feel like an imposter’: High achievers who experience anxiety are less capable or productive than their colleagues.
I know it can feel this way; the feelings of anxiety make you feel like you’re not capable at your job. Almost, that you’re not deserving of that promotion and that you’re just ‘winging it’.
Some how everyone else looks like they’ve got their ‘sh*t’ together, thriving while you’re barely surviving; feeling unproductive, unmotivated and comparing yourself to your colleagues.
However, it is important to recognise all you are and all you give, your qualifications, your experience; these are all evidence that you can do this.
Experiencing anxiety does not define your worth or ability and seeking support will enable you to learn ways to manage the anxiety you experience at work and remember just how capable you are.
6. Myth 6: ‘If people knew, what would they think of me’: Thinking that it’s only you who experiences anxiety and that you would be judged by others
I know that the fear of judgement often gets in the way of you from seeking the help and support you need.
High achievers who struggle with anxiety often think they’re the only ones and are often the only ones judging themselves.
In fact, over the past decade, I’ve worked with consultants, doctors, teachers, CEO’s, high level managers; all of whom are big hearted, successful and accomplished individuals at work and in the home who have struggled with stress, anxiety and overwhelm at various points in their lives.
Knowing this, and the fact that you are not alone, can often be the push you need to do something about how you’ve been feeling.
The supportive feeling of relief that is often felt within my initials calls; when high achievers know they are not alone and that there are things they can do to swap anxiety for confidence is transformational. This relief, sparks hope and encouragement.
Let go of judgement and instead lean into supporting yourself.
7. Myth 7: ‘No one would ever know I get anxious’ - Thinking something is wrong with you.
I know you feel you have to hide it. For fear of being judged.
You try to keep it to yourself, ‘keep on keeping on’; snapping at your partner, feeling teary because you ran out of milk for your brew….and at the moment, you are having more bad days than good.
It’s been like this for so long, you wonder if this is just who you are now…?
You think the best way to manage anxiety is to just keep it to yourself.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The first step is recognising how keeping this ‘secret’ is hindering you and keeping things worse. Trying to always put on a brave face is not the most effective way.
Secondly, nothing is wrong with you.
You are a big hearted human and your sensitivity is your superpower.
There are many ways in which you can effectively learn how to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t spiral; find bespoke ways that work for you. I can help you develop that.
8. Myth 8: ‘’ - ‘Is something wrong with me’’ - Thinking something is wrong with you.
If you are feeling anxious, it can affect you both physically and mentally.
It’s not uncommon to experience changes in breathing, heart rate increasing, headaches, loss of appetite or even chest pain. (However, If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your GP and seek guidance so that you can rule out physical causes).
Feeling of anxiety might also make you find it hard to relax, feel tearful, feel nervous or tense, almost like you ‘can’t switch off’ and impact your sleep and concentration levels - often your mind can worry or drift during tasks or conversions.
Or perhaps you seem ‘fine’ (we all know what ‘fine’ means!) on the outside yet you feel panicky inside, feeling like you can't settle and maybe even feel sick.
Learning about yourself, your own symptoms of anxiety and how you experience this is essential as it will give you important data, helping you to learn how to manage it more effectively.
For me, I can get snappy and then withdraw. I often feel teary and quiet. How about you?
Yet I recognise this in myself, feel it and after sometime, I draw upon my bespoke toolkit which I have developed over my healing journey and take the actions I need to support myself.
9. Myth 9: ‘I keep thinking over and over again, it’s like my minds on a treadmill’ - Feeling frustrated at yourself - expecting your mind to just be calm
I know you often feel frustrated at yourself, your mind feels cluttered, overcrowded and often like it’s on a treadmill doing laps.
You're going over old conversations, trying to figure out if your neighbour gave you a dirty look when you put out the bins this morning or if you’ve done something to annoy your friend, as they’ve taken over 24 hours to reply to your whatsapp…
Often when you’re anxious, you can think about things over and over again.
This is not just your mind, this is the nature of the mind and it is your job to learn how to create a calm mind, change tactics and not just feel frustrated at how chaotic it feels.
A huge myth is that your mind should just be calm.
Instead, it’s important to learn how to create a calm mind, learn how to challenge thoughts and stop them overwhelming you.
A great place to start is with this free mini training and learn how to go from overwhelmed to overcoming doubt in 4 simple steps:
'Overwhelmed to Overcoming Doubt'
10. Myth 10: Going to a PT is normal yet Coaching can come with stigma. High achievers don't need coaching, support or self-help.
Investing in a PT or a fitness coach is seen as ‘normal’ yet investing in Coaching, Support and self-help can often come with judgement. When people think of health, it is more normalised to look after your body and consider getting a PT, than it is working on your mind, crafting mental resilience and working on your mental health.
Yet, your mind needs the same level of your care, attention and consistent action as your body does.
It is a myth that your mind will ‘just’ be healthy. You have to work on creating a healthy mind and see coaching, support and self help as opportunities for you to expand, grow, learn about yourself and your needs; so that you can feel fulfilled, purposeful and consistently like your best self.
In my experience, the high achievers that engage in coaching see this as an investment in themselves and their happiness, noticing through our work together, that each area of their life is positively impacted.
They’re closer to their loved ones, they feel more connected, purposeful and motivated than ever.
I'd love to support you to feel wildly confident & grounded as you overcome doubt, take more confident decisive action and live your most unapologetic life.
Feeling calm, confident & living unapologetically - this gets to be real for you.
You can contact me here to work together 1:1
Create a calm mind & live the life you were meant to
In this free masterclass discover: How to go from overwhelmed to overcoming doubt in just 4 simple steps How to calm your racing mind for good How to stop sabotaging friendships & say yes to more of your beautiful life Access 4 psychological techniques, I teach all my 1:1 clients, so that you can stop overthinking and take more confident, decisive action today