Anxiety is commonly typified by fear, worry, trepidation, and dread. Anxiety is often associated with negative outcomes, but scientists have concluded that low-level, intermittent anxiety can actually be natural and healthy. Anxiety alerts individuals to risk or imminent danger, can motivate and inspire productivity, can signal excitement, or can prompt cautious thinking amongst multiple outcomes. Anxiety only becomes problematic when it is extreme, consuming, or negatively impacting daily functioning. Anxiety has historically been a popular topic for writers, philosophers, and teachers alike, thus resulting in many impactful quotations within literature. Comprehending quotations can sometimes be perplexing and challenging, but often leads to thought-provoking insight. The following quotations instigate thinking regarding the universal, human condition of anxiety.
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”…Soren Kierkegaard
The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, held the viewpoint that an individual’s resolve will be the determining factor of their fate and believed that freedom of choice will always be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and fear. The philosopher felt that individuals experience a degree of anxiety when confronted with moral choices, as they have the ultimate freedom to make any decision. Thus, explaining Kierkegaard’s “dizziness of freedom” reference in the quotation.
“It has been said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength”…Charles Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon, a British Baptist minister and writer, professed that anxiety does not alleviate any future distress or unhappiness, as worrying will not change anything. Instead, Spurgeon warned that anxiety and worry only depletes strength and happiness in the present.
“Some of your grief you have cured, and lived to survive; but what torments of pain have you endured that haven’t as yet arrived”…Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American Transcendentalist and poet, perceived anxiety as a source of torment. In this quotation, Emerson depicts that individuals have the resilience to survive negative experiences that they have lived through, but continually foster anguish and fear of negative experiences that have not yet occurred.
”Cares that have entered once in the breast, will have whole possession of the rest”…Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson, an English poet, felt that anxiety and worry can be all consuming, with a propensity to overshadow other important emotions and feelings. This quotation portrays that one can lose focus on what is important, while their sole focus is rigidly fixed on anxiety.
“Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is, with thoughts of what may be”…John Dryden
John Dryden, an English poet, felt that anxiety and fear impede general happiness and well being. Dryden felt that people obstruct their own happiness and fail to focus on the present when they are too consumed with worrying about the future.
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”…Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin, one of the United States Founding Fathers, felt that anxiety leads to darkness and despair. In this quotation, Franklin urges positivity by staying in the present instead of fruitlessly worrying about potential troubles that are not guaranteed.
“Borrow trouble for yourself, if that’s your nature, but don’t lend it to your neighbors”..Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, an American poet, perceived anxiety as troublesome, unproductive, and infectious. Kipling attempts to convey this point by urging others to keep negative moods and trepidation to themselves instead of exposing and spreading it onto others.
“Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble”…George Washington
George Washington, former President of the United States, states that anxiety and fear of the unknown is troublesome, futile, and brought on by the individual. In this quotation, Washington depicts that fearing trouble will cost an individual the accumulation of worry.
“The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last.”…Oscar Wilde
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.