Unveiling the Truth: Your Anxiety Is Lying to You

Ever seen someone put on a sweater or a t-shirt which carries the words “your anxiety is lying to you”?

I haven’t … but based on the Internet, it would seem that this phrase has become quite popular in recent times as far as clothing is concerned.

As a CBT therapist in Port Jefferson, NY, I see these words come true every day. It paints tales of doom and gloom that do not often match reality—this is what makes anxiety such a cunning enemy. What we do in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is strip off all those layers of lies, using evidence and facts to confront and dispel myths churned out by anxiety.

Anxiety is a bit like an overprotective friend who constantly feeds you false information. They may have good intentions but their perspective is distorted. With these falsehoods, you are denied peace of mind and the ability to perceive the world as it truly exists.

One of the main things about dealing with anxiety involves identifying these deceptions for what they actually are: lies. By understanding how anxiety works, you have the means to challenge and question these groundless convictions so that your life can be better balanced and less anxious.

Getting to the truth is a process. It takes time and patience to find your center and reduce anxiety’s power over you. The good news? The right strategies and support can help you navigate the fog of anxiety and leave anxiety’s lies behind.

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A sample of “your anxiety is lying to you” apparel on Google.

Understanding Anxiety’s Deceptions

Anxiety is a master of mind games. It makes mountains out of molehills, making situations seem far worse than they actually are. It’s a filter that distorts reality, causing far more stress and worry than is necessary. How to see through the mind games? Understand them.

By learning about how anxiety plays its games, we start to see patterns. We come to notice exaggerations and negative thoughts that have no factual basis. Seeing through anxiety’s lies is about switching up our mindset. We must shift away from belief and toward healthy skepticism. We doubt anxiety’s narratives with curiosity and courage. The truth is, your anxiety is lying to you.

As you may have experienced, anxiety gets in the way of clarity. It distorts our reality by amplifying negative thoughts and feelings and making excuses to dismiss the positive. The result is a vicious cycle of fear and avoidance that makes daily life a real challenge.

The key to overcoming anxiety’s distortions is to refuse to accept what it tells us. Instead of tunnel vision, we must strive to see the bigger picture. Yes, there may be some negative emotions or fears present, but that’s not the full picture. When we look at things from a more balanced perspective, reality becomes much less frightening.

Cognitive Distortions and Their Impact

Anxiety fuels itself with cognitive distortions. What is a cognitive distortion? A skewed thought pattern based more in fear than rationality. For example, expecting the worst or jumping to conclusions before we know more information. We believe anxiety’s lies and end up feeling even more anxious!

It can be hard to recognize cognitive distortions, but doing so helps us break anxiety’s hold over us. When we challenge them with logic or simply question their validity, they tend to fall apart. That’s just one of the ways your anxiety is lying to you.

The Phenomenon of Rumination

If you’re living with anxiety, you probably ruminate quite often. Rumination is repetitive dwelling over problems but not identifying or taking action toward solutions. It’s one of the most common symptoms of anxiety and only serves to make it worse. We end up spending hours, days, even weeks going in circles and feeling trapped in a cycle of worry.

How do we stop ruminating? The first step is to notice that we’re doing it. When we notice, we then have the power to disengage. It’s not always easy, but techniques such as mindfulness and breathwork can help. These techniques return us to the present, interrupting the cycle of rumination and fostering a sense of calm in the mind and body.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in Anxiety

One of the most destructive consequences of anxiety is that its prophecies can be self-fulfilling. By jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, we often subconsciously set the stage for our fears to take form. Recognizing anxiety’s influence and breaking the cycle then becomes crucial for maintaining our well-being and preventing its prophecies from becoming reality.


The Physical Effects of Anxiety on the Brain

Anxiety doesn’t just influence our thoughts – it has a very real impact on the brain. It rewires normal brain circuitry and takes control of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain.) When we sense threat, the amygdala (the fear center of our brain) triggers a cascade of mental and physical changes that influence how we see and relate to the world around us. We enter a state of survival, and all of our brain and body power becomes geared toward dealing with threat. Given how much anxiety impacts brain function, it’s clear that anxiety is not just a psychological issue but also a physiological one. All this happens because your anxiety is lying to you.

If you want to know what makes anxiety so powerful, understanding its effect on the brain may help. Knowledge is power, so understanding how it works helps us understand the importance of a comprehensive approach to dealing with it. Lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication if necessary are all part of this comprehensive approach.

When we tackle anxiety from the mental and the physical angle, we stand a much better chance at reducing it’s power, seeing through its lies, and ultimately regaining control over our lives. Let’s take a closer look at anxiety’s effect on the brain.

Anxiety-Induced Changes in Brain Function

Anxiety is not inherently bad – it’s a function of the brain that has developed over our evolution to help us survive. If our ancestors didn’t develop acute threat detectors in the brain (the amygdala we mentioned earlier) we may not have survived this long as a species! However, these days we don’t need the same survival instincts as our ancestors, but the brain operates in much the same way as it did back then. We sense something threatening, even if it’s something small, and it’s like our brain can’t help but make a mountain out of a molehill, a shout from a whisper.

The Role of Neurotransmitters in Anxiety

As mentioned earlier, neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers. They deliver signals to different parts of the brain, telling the body what to do in different situations. When anxiety takes over, these messages are more like junk mail than a letter from a friend. Cortisol and adrenaline are two of the main anxiety-related neurotransmitters. Unlike Serotonin and GABA, which normally help us feel calm and grounded, anxiety’s messengers evoke a lot of stress. They leave us feeling on edge and drive our focus to the perceived source of threat.

the truth about anxiety

Strategies to Counteract Anxiety’s Lies

Let’s get to the mission – calling out anxiety’s lies. Why? Because learning how to recognize and call them out is going to make a huge difference to your life. It will take some practice, but developing this skill is one of the most important things you will ever do.

So, the first step is to recognize when your mind is making something up. Remember that your anxious thoughts are not your boss, and you’re allowed to criticize and question them. If you can’t question your boss, that’s not a good boss anyway!

We start by questioning anxiety’s narratives instead of blindly believing. Think of yourself as a detective. Your job is to find holes in the story, and avoid falling for tricks. Consider the evidence, and learn to determine what holds water and what’s just smoke and mirrors.

There are tools available to help you with your case. These tools are important because tackling anxiety while you’re already in a heightened state is hard. These tools, which include mindfulness exercises, good sleep, a balanced diet (to name a few) are your Swiss Army Knife. Instead of fueling anxiety, they counteract it. They help you prepare to question your thoughts from a calm, more objective place, calming the nervous system and helping your brain function normally. These tools help clear the fog of anxiety so you can more easily figure out your next step.

Embracing Mindfulness and Acceptance

Mindfulness and acceptance are your go-to tools for dealing with anxiety. Why? Because they ground us in reality. They don’t involve avoidance or denial of our feelings, which only serve to make anxiety worse later. Instead, mindfulness and acceptance bring us into the now, the present moment, not the ‘what-if’s, “whys’ or the ‘if-only’s’ that anxiety constantly repeats. Mindfulness and acceptance help us face anxiety head-on. They acknowledge that anxiety is there, but they don’t let it take over.

Practical Mindfulness Exercises

Let’s get right into some practical mindfulness exercises you can try today. Here’s one:

Pause. Breathe. Observe.

Yes, it’s that simple. Pausing whatever we are doing, bringing attention to our breath, and observing how we feel is like hitting the pause button on a remote. It gives us a chance to break the cycle of anxious thinking and touch base with the here and now. Maybe you notice the feeling of your feet on the ground or the sounds in your environment. Simple things, but things we don’t notice when we’re deep in thinking. Yet these things we notice are far closer to reality than the frightened imaginings of the mind.

One tool I love, and something all of my clients love, is the body scan. Starting from your toes and moving up to the top of your head, pay attention to each body part. Begin by taking a few deep inhales and letting your breath fall out naturally.

When you feel the breath is calm, bring your attention to your toes and notice them. Notice any sensations, but don’t judge anything. Then move to the soles of your feet, your ankles, calves, and so on. Spend some time with each body part just noticing, and keep going until you reach the top of your head. Remember the breath. This exercise is so profound. It’s like a reset button for the body and mind, helping us remember that we’re OK, we’re here, we’re OK.

The Power of Acceptance in Healing

The second tool is acceptance. That doesn’t mean being passive and letting anxiety take over. It’s more about making peace with your anxiety, acknowledging it’s presence but also standing your ground. Anxious thoughts get worse when we don’t accept them, but when we practice acceptance, we take the wind out of their sails. Instead of towering monsters they become more like pesky flies that you can swat away.

Even better? Acceptance goes beyond accepting a few thoughts. When we accept that anxiety is a completely normal part of being human and not a sign of weakness or failure, it loses most of its power. Everyone has challenges, and it just so happens that yours involves dealing with anxiety. When we accept that as a part of life, we open up a well of compassion for ourselves and others. We gravitate toward understanding and compassion and away from fear.

your anxiety is lying to you

Lifestyle Adjustments for Managing Anxiety

To effectively reduce anxiety’s power, we need to make a few lifestyle adjustments. It’s a bit like tuning an instrument to make sure we play the right notes. Through a balanced diet, enough sleep, and regular exercise, we invite more harmony into our life.

The power of a balanced diet

You’ve probably heard it many times before, but the foods we eat play a crucial role in how we feel. Foods rich in omega-3 (e.g salmon, flaxseeds) are highly beneficial for the brain. They promote normal brain function and counteract the effects of cortisol and adrenaline. So, by adding more brain-friendly foods to our diet, we make anxiety much easier to manage.

We can also help ourselves by cutting down on some things. You might love coffee or have a sweet tooth (and that’s fine!) but we can reduce anxiety’s intensity when we cut down on caffeine or processed sugar. That doesn’t mean cutting out things we like completely, but we should be mindful of how much we consume.

Let’s not forget about water. Hydration is crucial for proper brain function. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water so keep a bottle handy or set reminders on your phone to hydrate yourself. It’s a small action but can make a huge difference to how you feel throughout the day.

Exercise as a Tool for Anxiety Relief

Another popular tool but one you might be overlooking – exercise. No, that doesn’t mean training like Arnold Schwarzenegger or outpacing Usain Bolt. Simply moving your body regularly releases powerful chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called endorphins – feel-good chemicals that act as the body’s natural painkillers. Exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle for high achieving men and women.

In terms of anxiety management, the benefits of regular exercise are profound. Focusing on achieving a physical goal, such as lifting a weight a set number of times or enduring a run for even 15 minutes gives you a much needed break from the cycle of anxious thoughts. Whether you choose yoga, walking, dancing around your living room, or something more intense like a sunrise run along the shores of Jones Beach, these physical activities bring you into the here and now, and simultaneously make your brain healthier.

Seeking Professional Assistance

The real game-changer is knowing to seek out help. Many people are reluctant to ask for help – you might think you can’t handle things on your own or that you’re a failure if you ask for help – but nothing could be further from the truth. If you had a persistent pain in your body wouldn’t you speak to a doctor? By consulting a mental health professional about your experience, you take a significant step toward your best health. It’s not about accepting defeat – it’s about strategizing success.

So, whether it’ll be your first ever time going to therapy or you’ve received support before, knowing that someone is there to help you can change the game. Moreover, it’s not just about getting advice. Going to therapy is forming an alliance with someone who has your best health in mind. A professional therapist can help you unlock doors you didn’t even know were closed.

The Benefits of CBT Therapy For Anxiety

The Benefits of CBT Therapy For Anxiety

When you reach out to a professional to help with your anxiety, you’re likely to take part in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a widely-used, evidence-based anxiety therapy that tackles your anxiety head on. Instead of leaving your ruminating or catastrophizing, it teaches us to catch those challenging thoughts early and prevent them from leading us down that all-too-familiar rabbit hole.

CBT focuses on the here-and-now. It’s not about diving deep into your childhood memories or finding people and things to blame. Instead, it focuses on your present day triggers and practical tools for reducing their impact. Essentially, it helps you develop a toolkit for navigating daily life with more ease.

Why CBT? It’s backed by a truckload of evidence. Consistent research proves CBT effective in reducing anxiety’s most difficult symptoms. People experiencing what you’re going through right now have found life-affirming relief from symptoms and developed a better relationship with the world around them by learning the tools and techniques CBT offers.

Lastly, the CBT toolkit is a lifelong ally. Once you develop the techniques, you can take them with you anywhere – not just the therapy room! Therapy will help you find your ground, but the tools will help you stay grounded as you go on and live your life.

Enhancing your Coping Mechanisms

Let’s face a fact – life can be challenging. It’s challenging for everyone, no matter how their life seems from the outside. What do with these challenges? We learn how to cope. Coping skills help us stay grounded when life inevitably throws us a curveball.

Whether it’s deep breathing, mindfulness practice, writing down your thoughts, or simply going for a walk, it’s important to figure out what works for you. Having a toolkit of go-to strategies makes all the difference between fumbling around in the dark and having a flashlight to see your next step. As a trained CBT therapist in Port Jefferson, NY, I’ve seen CBT’s toolkit change lives.

Challenging Anxiety’s False Narratives

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of challenging anxious narratives rather than blindly believing them. Knowing how to challenge is key, and is something we learn in early therapy sessions. You may not become a master challenger overnight. It’s a process, but one worth the patience. Soon, you’ll be able to replace those false stories with direct, grounded truth based on your real-life experiences.

Identifying and Disputing Cognitive Distortions

Those of us with anxiety tend to experience cognitive distortions – a filter in the mind that exaggerates the negative potential of a situation. By learning about distortions and developing an eye to recognize them, we begin to take off the glasses of distortion and see things as they really are.

Identifying and challenging these distortions is where the fun begins. It’s a process in which we hold our false beliefs out in front and look at them. We approach with doubt and seek evidence. More often than not, these distortions begin to dissolve. Take a common anxious thought – ‘Everything will go wrong!’. First we accept the thought as it is. Then we challenge it by recalling times when things actually went perfectly well. This simple process serves to unmask the negative thought and reveal it is another one of anxiety’s lies.

Breaking the Cycle of Rumination

Rumination keeps us stuck in a loop. The first step to breaking the loop? Recognizing it. The key here is not to judge or blame ourselves for being in a loop – that only fuels the rumination. Instead, we gently encourage ourselves to take a break from worrying and go engage in something else.

Whether it’s painting, playing a sport, or taking a walk in nature, the goal is to anchor yourself in the here and now. Note that this is not about avoidance. We’re not denying the experience of anxiety, but rather not letting it keep us stuck in a loop. When we engage in something mindful or engaging, we give ourselves a much needed break and create a chance to address our thoughts with more clarity.

Implementing Self-Care Practices

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no stranger to bubble baths and scented candles. However, don’t think that self-care is all about that. Real self-care is about creating a routine that promotes your well-being. Yes, that might be a bubble bath and a candle, but it might also be setting aside time to spend with a loved one, waking up an hour earlier to meditate or watch a Long Beach sunrise. Maybe it’s simply swapping out your second or third coffee for a calming ginger tea. These small but significant daily habits tell our brain ‘Hey, we’re okay.’

The self-care dream team? Sleep, nutrition, and exercise. These are more than health-positive behaviors – they’re your frontline defenses against anxiety. Through this trifecta we fortify our mental resilience and make us more effective at navigating life’s challenges.

Prioritizing Sleep and Relaxation

Don’t underestimate the restorative power of sleep. A good night’s sleep helps us clear away stress from the previous day and prepare to take on the world today. Add to that the importance of relaxation, not just sleeping but taking time to relax in your waking life. Whether you relax through deep breathing, yoga, or even a refreshing cup of tea, these moments of stillness can make a world of difference to your mental health. This is especially important for high achievers who rarely get a good night sleep or a day off.

Developing a Personal Self-Care Routine

When it comes to self-care, your routine will be as unique as you are. Don’t compare your self care practices to someone else’s, be that a friend or an influencer. What helps you achieve a sense of calm and groundedness may not be the same for someone else. Maybe it’s reading, or taking a walk, or going for a long run, Maybe it’s a warm bath, or maybe it’s an ice plunge.

Whatever you find helpful, the important thing is to include these practices into your daily life consistently. They should feel like a joyful part of your day and not another chore on your to-do list.

Your Anxiety Is Not Your Identity

Let’s get something straight – you are more than your symptoms. Yes, anxiety likes to make itself feel like the main character in your life, but it’s just one part of your life. It doesn’t define who you are.

When we begin to see through our anxiety, we discover things about ourselves that we had buried. We begin to see our strengths, remember our passions, and rediscover the dreams that anxiety kept hidden.

As we continue to work through our anxiety, the path ahead becomes clearer. Things that once felt like obstacles now become opportunities. We begin to see potential instead of danger. You may not experience all of this overnight, but bit by bit. What is required of you is your patience and your commitment to cultivating your best self through the tools and techniques we explored above.

A Brighter Tomorrow: Overcoming the Lies Anxiety Tells

Remember that anxiety is often a liar. It wants to protect you from danger, but very often that danger is not real. It spins narratives that are not only based on false evidence but also rarely come true. By challenging these deceptions, focusing on self-care, and knowing when to reach out for support, we take back control of our lives. We carve out a path in life on which we’re not just surviving but thriving. We become the author of our own story, one of hope, resilience, courage, and daily joy.

About the Author

Port Jefferson Therapist Near Me

Dr. Vanessa Gomes, PhD

As a CBT therapist in Port Jefferson, NY, I help you rediscover your joy & thrive with practical tools for lasting change.

My approach blends the precision of science with the warmth of human connection. I know that opening up and seeking help can be daunting, but I’m here to provide a non-judgmental and safe space where your story can be heard and understood.

When you are no longer weighed down by self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and trauma, you radiate confidence and self-assuredness. This is the life you deserve, and it’s within your reach.

I am currently accepting new in-person clients in Port Jefferson, NY, and online across Long Island and New York State.

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Please note — The only insurance I accept is Aetna and my rate is $250/session.

Book a 15-Minute Consult

Please note — The only insurance I accept is Aetna and my rate is $250/session.