Stephanie Young is a communications expert, mother of two and advocate for health and wellness. Through her blog, I'm Still Learning, Stephanie muses about being a mother and wife, staying healthy and calm and finding the positives in life’s ups and downs. Stephanie is also the author of the eBook, How to Eat Healthy Without Noticing: A Non-dieter's Guide to Eating Better. In addition to her blog, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

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I Am Not My Emotions


“Balance begins by knowing how you feel but not being so swayed that you are ruled by every passing incident of anger, worry or resentment.” –Deepak Chopra

Since childhood, I’ve struggled with frequent bouts of anxiety and panic. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if my predisposition to worry began in utero. (As a fetus, I probably worried incessantly about whether or not I was developing properly.) My anxiety has played such a dominant role in my life that, at times, it’s become all-consuming.

But I work at it—each and every day. Having spent the better part of my life navigating the rocky waters of my anxiety, I’ve learned a thing or two. And although I know that there are some parts of my emotional makeup that I may not be able to change, I can—and do—view it in a more productive light.

Fact: I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.

Fact: I am not my anxiety and panic attacks.

Though I spent many years believing my anxious thoughts made up the whole of me, I have come to realize the faulty logic behind that notion: Emotions, by nature, move with fluidity—dancing in and out of the mind, carefully orchestrated by the tide that is an ever-evolving state of consciousness. So how can any single emotion define a person?

It cannot.

I now know and expect that throughout my life I will experience emotional ebbs and flows; some emotions will feel good, some will feel crappy and some will just flat out trounce me. But they are fleeting; they are not here to stay. Emotions stop in for a visit, hang around for a bit then move on their merry way, making room for the new ones to take their place. Just because I feel anxious or scared or depressed in any given moment doesn’t mean I’ll feel that way forever. It doesn’t make me who I am.

While I do still grapple with my emotional health, I know that I am making strides towards finding a greater inner peace. I used to define myself by my anxiety. Not anymore. Today I see my anxious ways as part of what makes me who I am today, but not who I am as a whole. There are many characteristics that, today, I use to define myself—and anxious is not one of them: I am kind; I am loving; I am extroverted; I am sentimental; I am blond-haired and brown-eyed; I am (sometimes) funny; I am cautious.

I am not anxious. I am simply someone who experiences anxious thoughts on occasion.

I am many things, but I am not my emotions.

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Comments (17)

  1. Ahmed 06/06/2016 at 9:59 am

    I love your post much

  2. Melissa 10/25/2013 at 7:59 pm

    I love your post. I try to get this exact message across to my clients and friends alike. I used to suffer a lot of fear and even panic attacks so I totally get where you are coming from. We should never own our symptoms or dis-eases. They do not define who we are. Only we can define ourselves and that choice is within each of us. I love reading posts from a true heart. Thanks for sharing. Do you ever guest blog at other sites?

  3. a morning grouch 07/22/2013 at 6:13 pm

    I needed this. I get so angry with myself about my anxiety (and sometimes how I act because of it)… but you’re right. That isn’t all of me! Thank you.

    • Stephanie Young 07/23/2013 at 2:52 pm

      Oh don’t I know that feeling. That’s why I’ve worked so hard to get to this place. The anxiety is hard enough without all that self anger we put on ourselves.

  4. Stephanie Sprenger 07/17/2013 at 10:34 pm

    What a wonderful reminder- thank you for this. Sometimes we forget that we can transcend our emotions while still accepting them, without labeling ourselves.

    • Stephanie Young 07/23/2013 at 2:52 pm

      It’s an easy concept to forget. But an important one to try to remember.

  5. Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha 07/16/2013 at 9:27 pm

    I love this! I also have anxiety and get panic attacks, and I LOVE your mantra! I have also used a variation of it with my children ~ They are not their tantrums ~ to remind myself that they are not their emotions either. Great post.

    • Stephanie Young 07/23/2013 at 2:53 pm

      Sarah, that is brilliant. I am going to do the same with my kids when I’m in the throes of frustration with them.

  6. Courtney 07/15/2013 at 8:43 pm

    I love this reminder. It’s true. So many times we start to get confused. It’s so easy. Thank you for this. I love your writing

    • Stephanie Young 07/16/2013 at 6:44 am

      Thank you, Courtney. Too many times in my life, I’ve gotten caught up in my anxiety. I have given it way too much power. Not anymore.

  7. Aimee Waltman 07/15/2013 at 8:23 pm

    You always seem to say what I need to hear when I need to hear it most. Thank you.

    • Stephanie Young 07/16/2013 at 6:44 am

      Thank you, Aimee. We’re in this together!

  8. Naturally Educated 07/15/2013 at 8:05 pm

    This is excellent! I have been ruled by anxiety for so much of my life. I am learning to acknowledge it and move on and not be consumed by it. I love the way you have described it here.

    • Stephanie Young 07/16/2013 at 6:45 am

      It’s easy to get consumed by it. The key is not giving it more power than it deserves in our lives.

  9. Kim Bongiorno 07/15/2013 at 3:09 pm

    They are just a small part of you, that is so true.
    Great post, as usual.

    • Stephanie Young 07/15/2013 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks, Kim. It has taken me a long time to figure this out, and I’m so glad I did.

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