Get All Access for $5/mo

Coping With Anxiety, Finding Support: One Entrepreneur's Story Big goals can bring big worries. See yourself in this founder's journey to manage worry and anxiety.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

About 7 years ago, I was free, creating and doing the things I wanted to do. I was also began battling loneliness. While I did have many friends that I could call upon, I often felt like I was burdening them. I also felt like they couldn't relate. My girlfriends had met great guys, and were getting engaged and starting families. I wasn't on that path, I didn't even know how to get on that path and just felt ashamed.

Related: To Hit Your Goals, Get Help

I used work as my escape route, throwing myself into everything I did. It was fulfilling, and it helped me hide from those whom I thought were judging me. I started to feel a little better until I began internalizing everything: a small criticism, sarcastic remark or disapproving look. I'd start to feel like I couldn't do anything right. My heart would start to race. So I'd quietly leave work in the middle of the day, rush to my car, jump in, drive off and burst into tears. When I had run out of tears, I'd return, and get back to work.

No one knew what was going on. I didn't even understand what was going on. Nothing made me happy. I just felt lost, lonely, and anxious all the time.

I tried to talk myself through it. I tried to have a positive outlook on life. I tried to be thankful. I ate well and exercised. But none of it helped.

So I reached out to an expert, a psychologist. She said that I mostly suffered from anxiety, and because I was highly functional I wouldn't need any medication. She suggested a combination of psychotherapy and life coaching techniques to help me manage my anxiety. Her strategies helped me take control and understand the challenges I needed to face.

Challenge one: Focusing on the present
For me, the future was filled with fear. Most of my anxiety came from anticipating what would happen in a week, a month, or a year. My psychologist asked me to practice letting things come to me. It was quite a challenge, because I was so used to pushing hard to get what I needed. But when I had to wait it made me focus on the present.

Challenge two: Growing thicker skin.
With her help, I learned I needed to detach myself from other people's expectations, comparisons and drama. This was hard since so much of my happiness had come from pleasing others or competing against others. I needed to get comfortable with setbacks both large and small and even recognize when I was taking an all or nothing attitude.

These steps helped me feel stronger and have thicker skin.

Related: Hustling on a Side Business? How to Find the Time.

Challenge three: Learning to love myself
I took stock of all the most trying moments in my life, and realized how much I was capable of. Even if others didn't recognize or appreciate what I had done, it didn't mean that I wasn't capable. This process helped me learn how to value and respect myself.

Related: What Every Mentor Should Know

The takeaway
As entrepreneurs, we might confuse suffering with paying our dues, that it's a badge of honor or something to brag about later. But I couldn't imagine living the rest of my life with high levels of anxiety. I wanted to live a full life, be calm, and present.

When anxiety interferes with how you want to live your life, you have to seek help. Sometimes social stigma holds us back from finding support. We're afraid we'll be judged or that people will think we have "issues.' But seeing a therapist is like hiring a personal trainer: It's about working on getting healthy.

I'm not saying you need therapy or counseling – not everyone does. I'm here to tell you that I hated the way I felt and did something about it. Therapy gave me the tools I needed to manage my anxiety and self-doubt. Two years later, I was strong enough to strike out on my own, start a business, and handle the setbacks and rejection that are common to running and growing one.

We make time for our physical health – we can do the same for our mental health. We owe it to those around us, our dreams and ourselves.

If you're open to sharing, I'd like to ask: how have you helped others you have struggled with self-doubt or anxiety or yourself? Please let me know in the comments below.

Poornima Vijayashanker

Founder of Femgineer

Poornima Vijayashanker is the founder of Femgineer, an education services company dedicated to helping tech professionals and entrepreneurs better themselves in product development, communication, and leadership.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Prices Fell in June for the First Time Since 2020. Are Interest Rate Cuts Coming Next?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Consumer Price Index report reveals something that hasn't happened in a very long time: declining consumer prices. Here's what that could mean for interest rates.


These 2 Visas Can Open Doors for Global Entrepreneurs to Franchise in the U.S.

Let's take a look at the E-2 and EB-5 visa options to get a birds-eye understanding of what they mean, the initial baseline requirements for each and why they are viable options for aspiring franchise owners.

Business News

Which State Was Just Ranked No. 1 for Business?

CNBC's annual state ranking is out and this year marked the closest finish ever.

Side Hustle

This 26-Year-Old's Side Hustle That 'Anybody Can Do' Grew to Earn $170,000 a Month. Here's What Happened When I Tested It.

Stephen Alvarez was working at a dental supply company and following his passion for cars on the side — then an Instagram ad changed everything.