We hope you are all having a fantastic week! In exciting news, as of the moment of writing this post, we have gained over 100 followers on our Facebook page. We are so ecstatic about the growth of our Tomodotchi family and can’t wait to engage with everyone. This community is really about growth and normalizing the mental health conversation, and we are so glad our message is resonating. If you haven’t, please give our Facebook page a like and share with your friends! It is the best way for us to build our community and help prioritize our collective mental health!
Now back to your regularly scheduled content! As we are sure is the same for many of you, the older we get, the more we realize how much we did not know yesterday. One of our biggest lessons in recent memory is how different we interpret the same events from one another. It’s crazy how two people can hear the same words, but have a thousand different interpretations.
There are many factors that change how we perceive events; for instance; extroverts and introverts. An extrovert will usually feel different about attending a party from an introvert. Same party, same people, different impressions and feelings!
What does this mean? Well, it means that we may unintentionally cause people unexpected anxiety. Why unexpected? Well, you can do an action or say something that you feel is completely appropriate, especially because it is how you wish to be treated. But the other person could interpret it a whole different way. The other person may feel anxiety from what you said or did when all you wanted was the best for the other person.
This week we were able to discuss this with 3 of our Tomodotchi’s to gain different perspectives and understand ways that people have unintentionally caused them anxiety. The goal is not to make anyone feel bad, because ultimately, we know that we are all just trying our best. The goal of this post is to create more awareness so we can all understand more about each other. Hopefully, we can create a space to discuss what causes you anxiety so that your friends and family can understand you better and ultimately, not cause you anxiety unintentionally. So without further ado, here are 5 ways we unintentionally cause unexpected anxiety!
1. Texting "Can We Talk"?
One of the things that drives our anxiety wild here at Tomodotchi is receiving a text that says those 3 words “can we talk?” Immediately, we begin to think about the worst-case scenarios. What if the person is hurt? What if I did something wrong? What if they are mad?
The sad thing is, we at Tomodotchi are incredibly guilty of sending messages with those 3 words. Even for this post, we messaged one of our Tomodotchi’s with those words “can we talk”. The immediate response we received was “is everything ok? Are you ok? What’s wrong?” Immediately upon receiving those messages, we realized that we had unintentionally caused them anxiety. When all we wanted was to talk about this blog post and get their opinion, in the end we caused anxiety unintentionally.
Why did this occur? Well, we feel it is because uncertainty can cause anxiety. As people with anxiety, we always gravitate towards the extremes that our mind creates. Especially those of us who are people pleasers, we can feel unexpectedly intimidated with the uncertainty those 3 simple words can create. We like to feel in control and part of that control comes from understanding what is going on around us. Ambiguity caused by those words takes away the control we have. Suddenly, we are at the mercy of the other person and our minds try to fill in the gaps. Typically, our minds always reach to the farthest ends of reality causing our spiraling thoughts and anxiety.
As for the person sending the message, the intent was not to cause anxiety in the other person. Usually, it’s simply because they were in a hurry and would rather talk over the phone to share their news. Most of the time, people send a text like that because they have good news to share or the message is too long to type out.
This is a classic scenario where we unintentionally cause anxiety in another. When we send the text that says “can we talk?” It is so easy to forget how those words can make people feel and the anxious thoughts they could bring, especially because we are so excited to talk with the other person. We know that we easily forget the anxiety that those words can cause us.
What can we do? Well, we here at Tomodotchi are going to do our very best in the future to take the extra time to type out some context with our message. Rather than just saying “can we talk” we plan to provide actual context to the message. We hope that this gives the other person control back and the ability to prepare properly for the conversation. We will strive to provide context, candidness and intention into our messages so that we do not allow for any uncertainty for the recipient. If we take away the unknown, perhaps we can take away their anxiety!
2. Bouncing That Knee!
Have you ever felt anxious because someone around you is furiously tapping their toes, clicking their pen or bouncing their knee? Well, personally, we here at Tomodotchi don’t experience anxiety from those actions. We are in fact the knee bouncer and pen clicker. However, as we got older, we learned from our friends that those actions actually cause them anxiety!
The action of not being able to sit still can cause anxiety in others because they feel rushed or panicked. When seeing another moving so frantically, they feel stressed and anxious that something is wrong or about to happen. It does not allow them to calm and center themselves and results in an anxious mind. For many this is especially true if you are in a car, because you can cause the car to shake due to the bouncing. The feeling of the ground shaking or the car bouncing can cause uneasy feelings in others. As the bouncer, we are guilty of not recognizing the uneasiness caused. After all the ground doesn’t feel shaky if you’re the one making it bounce!
However, the person who is bouncing is not intentionally trying to cause anxiety. Usually, they bounce out of habit or even to release their own anxiety. There is a reason the fidget spinner was such a fad after all! This is a classic example of how two people can see of experience the same situation in completely different ways.
This example can be hard to find a solution as one party may feel anxiety from the other persons way of alleviating anxiety. This is why it is important that we feel comfortable enough to discuss our anxieties with one another. If we share what causes us anxiety and how it makes us feel, then we can work together to find a mutually beneficial solution. After all there are a thousand ways to skin a cat (not literally of course!), together we can find different ways to help each other’s anxiety. Ultimately, we need to be aware of the space and people around us and create an environment where we can all thrive!
3. The Unexpected Noise!
We know, we know, what an ominous title! Sorry, we promise it’s nothing that crazy. This one comes from when we hear an unexpected noise, especially a noise from someone near us. Whether it be a friend, a partner or even the radio. One thing that never fails to cause us anxiety is hearing a sudden sharp noise.
For us, this always happens when we are driving a car and very focused on the road. Suddenly the passenger makes a noise “OHHHH!!!” Immediately our anxiety goes through the roof, did something bad happen? Did we almost get hit? Is there something we didn’t see? Our minds immediately go from 0 to 100. Then when we ask “what happened??” It always turns out the passenger just saw something interesting on their phones… They don’t even realize the panic or anxiety they caused because they were so focused on what was happening on their phone.
Another thing that really causes us anxiety, and we share this mainly hoping we aren’t the only ones! But when the radio ad or song has a sudden siren, honking or car accident noise! Automatically, our minds start looking for the police car, other car or accident. When we can’t find it, we start to worry that we completely missed something important! Only to find out that it was just the radio… lame we know, we hope we aren’t alone in this!
Now, obviously we can’t control all the noises around us at all times. However, especially with our friends or passengers, we can let them know that it causes us anxiety when we hear sudden gasps or noises and instead to calmly inform us of their latest phone finds. Ultimately, your friends or passengers aren’t intentionally causing you anxiety, they just found something they want to share. If we can make the discussion of anxiety normal, we can all comfortably share triggers like these to create a more peaceful world for us all!
4. Clean Up After Yourself
Again, this is one that we can’t relate to here at Tomodotchi. While I wouldn’t use the word slob to describe us, we definitely are no Mr./Mrs. Clean. However, as we engaged with others, we learned that messy environments can cause anxiety in others. Another classic case of how 2 people can see the same thing and interpret it completely differently.
Whether it be a roommate, partner or even your child, it’s not easy living with a person who creates messes, especially when messes cause you anxiety. Seeing dirty dishes, piled up trash or bugs (although that would cause us anxiety to…) in your home can cause anxiety in people who like a neat and tidy house. Honestly, we aren’t even talking sparkly clean, but just clutter free.
Clutter can make people feel very anxious in their own homes, it makes one feel that they don’t have control and can make them feel stressed out. It can even cause intrusive thoughts! For example, what if someone trips on the trash and gets hurt, what if bugs come and bite us, what if the trash causes a fire. All thoughts that are hard to imagine, if you aren’t someone who gets anxiety from messes.
What can cause even worse anxiety for the other person is the fear of the response from the other person if they ask them to clean their mess. They have thoughts like, what if the other person thinks I am a nag, what if they get mad or what if they get annoyed? Due to the fear of the repercussions, they end up cleaning the mess themselves. The result, burn out or negative feelings towards the other person. Not very healthy…
So, what can we do? Not to sound like a broken record, but if mental health was a normal topic, and we could easily share our anxieties caused by these events like clutter, we think that we would find that people generally want to work together for mutual happiness.
The other person is not messy because they want to intentionally cause you anxiety. The mess simply does not cause them anxiety so they do not know how you feel or know that you are even anxious in the first place. If you share and set healthy boundaries along with each doing your parts, we can live with anybody worry and stress free. We need to free ourselves from the stigma that expressing our anxieties is shameful!
5. Sociable vs Social-No
The final way is something that we are guilty of as extroverts. For years, we unintentionally caused anxiety to our friends who were introverts. How? Through the best of intentions. When we engage with a group of friends, strangers or even family we find ourselves at the center of the conversation. We love to share, talk and laugh with everyone. Whenever we would see someone who was not talking and simply standing and observing, we would always feel bad. Almost feel as if the rest of the group was dominating the conversation and leaving them out. We simply wanted to allow that person to be heard and express themselves. So, we would ask them a question to try and bring them into the conversation. After all this is how we would wish to be treated if we were in a similar situation.
However, little did we know that this is the complete opposite of what that person wanted. They already felt that they were a part of the group and they did not mind not talking or not having attention on them. This is how they felt most comfortable, and secure in a social environment. Having to come up with something to say on the fly can cause them anxiety. For example, what if I say the wrong thing, what if they judge me? Etc. These are thoughts that many extroverts (at least us here at Tomodotchi) don’t feel anxiety over. However, for introverts this can be overwhelming and cause high levels of anxiety. Again, something done with the best of intents is interpreted completely different by others.
How do we get past this? In our opinion, we need to be aware of those around us and understand that we don’t all want to be treated like us. We are all different people and we can embrace those differences. If someone doesn’t feel like talking and just wants to listen, we need to recognize that it’s ok and not pressure the other person. Again, if we can share what causes us anxiety, we can do all we can to help others enforce the boundaries that they set. Although, you probably shouldn’t ask someone about their anxiety or boundaries in a large group in the middle of a party! Find that alone time and learn about the person and help them enforce their boundaries!
Learning about different perspectives and how even the best of intents can cause anxiety was eye-opening for us. We had always been told, to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We always took this literally and thought ok, if that was me how would I want to be treated. The reality is, that we should have been putting ourselves as that actual person in their shoes. For example, we needed to try to understand what an introvert would want and not what an extrovert pretending to be an introvert would want.
We know, this is a very complicated topic and a slippery slope. We will never be perfect at this and we probably will always unintentionally cause anxiety in some way. But as long as we as a society try to move forward and understand one another, we will make progress. Ultimately, feeling comfortable in sharing our anxieties and what causes them can only make us stronger. Let’s continue to make it normal to share our struggles so that we can all support one another!
If you want to read more about your superpower to do this, read our last article here. Or read this article to help understand how we set boundaries. There are also so many other ways we can unintentionally cause anxiety, so we likely we release additional posts on this topic. If you feel comfortable, comment your thoughts on our Facebook page or below. Do you agree with these? Do you disagree? What are ways that people cause you anxiety unintentionally? We can only get better as a family.
Even when we act with the best of intentions, different perspectives allow for many different interpretations. We need to learn to be kind to one another, be ok with talking about our anxieties and actively try to not cause unintentional anxiety for one another.