The Stress and Anxiety of Achieving ‘Top Writer’ Status in Medium’s Self-Improvement Category

Photo by Caitlin Oriel on Unsplash

I am a therapist who is in the habit of writing quite regularly about self-care subjects, such as relationships, parenting, anxiety, and other areas of stress management. I am considered an expert in burnout prevention and evidence-based counseling. And, yet — just because I have mastered the best tips and tricks in the trade for mood management, it doesn’t mean that I am immune to stress and anxiety.

As an example, I am currently experiencing a sudden bout of writer’s block since my last piece went a little bit viral (What Teens Wish Their Parents Understood — From A Therapist Who Hears All About It). It is flattering to know that so many people enjoyed my piece, and humbling to think that my advice may have even had an impact in the actual lives of other people. This inspires me! At the same time, I am feeling the pressure.

When I think about writing, a thought pops into my head: “What if the next piece just isn’t as good?” Or, “What if the last one was a fluke?” Then, that feeling of stuckness sinks in. Of course, receiving an email from Medium this morning congratulating me for achieving ‘Top Writer’ status in the Self-Improvement category solidified that feeling even more.

When I am counseling a client experiencing some kind of stress or transition, I will often ask them what advice they would give their very best friend if they were in their situation. I find that it is often way easier for people to be compassionate with others, than ourselves. This fact seems to be part of human nature.

So, I will ask myself the same question:

If I were advising my best friend who was experiencing writer’s block after a piece has gone viral, and she is feeling the pressure to perform, what would I say?

Well, I would remind myself that we always have a choice between change and acceptance-based coping strategies. I could either try to change those critical thoughts when they come to make myself feel better… perhaps reminding myself that I have enjoyed writing pieces that I am passionate about in the past, and that my lost mojo is inevitably just around the corner.

Or, I could practice acceptance-based skills and observe critical thoughts as they float into my mind… and also as the pass on by… I can observe my anxious and self-critical thoughts without participating in them. I can watch them come, and let them go, like the breeze…

Whatever way I choose to cope, I recognize that this moment is an excellent opportunity to practice what I preach in terms of managing stress and anxiety. I will practice patience as I observe my stress and choose my response to it with intention. After all, what is more important to me than my status as a Top Writer in Self-Improvement, is my actual self-improvement as a human being.

And here I am sending you the same invitation as well:

How will you practice the art of self-improvement, over the art of the illusion of self-improvement?

Warmly,

Anna


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Anna Lindberg Cedar, MPA, LCSW #64284 is a Bay Area psychotherapist who specializes in burnout prevention. Anna provides counseling to adults, teens, couples, and executive teams. Many of Anna’s burnout prevention strategies are drawn from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) — a counseling style that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other change-based skills with mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies to help you lead a more balanced life. Find out more about Anna’s counseling and consulting work on her website and in her writings as a Contributor to The Mighty and Medium. You can also find her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


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