We often attempt masking our anxiety. There is some merit to this approach, but it depends on how one goes about it.
Driven by anxiety, you do something to get you mind off of a negative situation. This can be effective if used correctly, but it’s usually not. There are several categories of masking, including:
- Addictions–drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, sex, food, excessive exercising, etc.
- Getting caught up in a good cause–the cause might be excellent, but the driving force behind it might be somewhat suspect if examined carefully.
- Excessive involvement in hobbies–gardening, reading, sports, etc.
Several of the activities listed above are not problematic. If you choose to pursue a deep passion on your own terms and value system, you are creating alternate neurologic pathways that are very powerful in improving your mental health. Being deeply connected to your own value system and pursuing your passion is an important strategy in neurological reprogramming. However, pursuing a passion is a completely different process than being driven by anxiety. It’s impossible to outrun your anxiety without paying some price.
Masking strategies, even when anxiety-driven, might be slightly more effective than suppressing them, because they are not feeding the negative circuits. They are not slowing them down, either, though. When you are done with that particular activity, the repetitive negative thoughts are still there.