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Positive Quotes on Living with Anxiety

Anxiety Quotes


A few months ago when I was researching my post on Living Well With Anxiety I came across some great quotes on the topic of anxiety which I’ve assembled here.

Some are deep, like Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s statement that “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Some are funny, like editor Scott Stossel’s answer to the glass half full/empty dilemma. And others cut to the heart of the matter, like Julianna Hatfield’s description of what it’s like to go through life as a human pin cushion for painful emotions.

My vote for best metaphor goes to British fashion vlogger Zoe Sugg, who likens anxiety to an overly sensitive car alarm system. Most alarms are set to go off when someone’s breaking in. But some are so sensitive a falling leaf can trigger them. Perhaps the cleverest quote on this list is a wise saying from a fortune cookie I happened upon a couple of weeks ago: “Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.”

Do you have a favorite quote about anxiety you’d like to share with other readers?  Leave a comment in the space below.


“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
– Soren Kierkegaard (19th Century Danish philosopher)

Emma Stone - Anxiety Quote
Emma Stone

“I had massive anxiety as a child. I was in therapy. From 8 to 10, I was borderline agoraphobic. I could not leave my mom’s side. I don’t really have panic attacks anymore, but I had really bad anxiety.”
Emma Stone (American actress)

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”
– Seneca the Younger (Roman stoic philosopher of the First Century AD)

“Well, unless you’ve suffered from panic attacks and social anxiety disorders, which is what I was diagnosed as having, it’s hard to explain it. But you go on stage knowing you’re actually physically going to die. You will keel over and die.”
Donny Osmond (American singer, actor, and former teen idol)

“I was not a silly kid or outgoing. In fact, I suffered from quite a bit of anxiety. I used to have panic attacks when I was a teenager, really incapacitating moments, because I had some phobias.”
– Dane Cook (American comedian and actor)

“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers from his fear.”
– Michel de Montaigne (French Philosopher credited with the creation of the modern essay)

Anxiety Quote - Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”
– Gaius Julius Caesar (Roman general and dictator)

“I was having problems with depression and anxiety disorder, and it felt like not blogging about it was creating a false history. When I did finally share the problems I was having, I was shocked – not only by the support that was given to me, but also by the incredible amount of people who admitted they struggled with the same thing.”
– Jenifer Lawson (American journalist and blogger popularly known as “The Blogess”)

“The misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never came.”
– James Russell Lowell (19th Century American poet)

“Anxiety is a kind of fuel that activates the fight-or-flight part of the brain in me. It makes sure that a velociraptor isn’t around the corner and that you do as much as you possibly can to survive. Because Hollywood has a lot in common with ‘Jurassic Park’ and its primeval-dinosaur universe.”
– Ben Affleck (American actor and movie director)

“There are people who have the glass half full and glass half empty, and I’m afraid the glass is going to break and I’ll cut myself on the shards.”
– Scott Stossel  (American journalist and editor of The Atlantic magazine)

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.”
– T.S. Eliot (American poet and leading figure of modernism in the arts)

“There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.”
– Seneca, The Younger

The Scream - Quotes about Anxiety
The Scream

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.”
– Edvard Munch (19th Century Norwegian painter of “The Scream”)

“To grapple with and understand anxiety is, in some sense, to grapple with and understand the human condition.”
– Scott Stossel

“Your anxiety is there to check that you’re okay, not to tell you you’re not”Hey Sigmund (mental health blog)

“A person with anxiety is like a car on the street whose alarm gets set off by a little leaf that’s fallen from a tree, whereas the people who don’t experience anxiety are the cars that the only time their alarm goes off is if someone is breaking into it. It can really debilitate and control the way people live their lives.”
Zoe Sugg (British fashion and beauty vlogger)

“Sometimes I feel like a human pin cushion. Every painful emotion hits me with ridiculously exaggerated force. And the anxiety feels like hands inside of me, squeezing my guts really hard.”
– Juliana Hatfield (singer-songwriter, formerly of the band Some Girls)

“I had turned my anxiety into my profession.”
– Francois Jacob (French war hero and winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize for medicine, known for his work in bacteriology).

“Once you know the emotional building blocks of anxiety, you can influence them.”
– Chip Conley (American hotel entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker)

“Most people do surprisingly poorly when dealing with a relative who is hurting, depressed, or anxious – we get defensive and try to solve the problem rather than finding the truth in what the person is saying.”
– David D. Burns (American psychiatrist and author of the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy)

“Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety.”
– Jack Nicklaus (American golf pro widely regarded as the greatest professional player of all time)

“What worries you, masters you.”
– John Locke (17th Century English philosopher)

Dev Hynes - Quotes Anxiety
Dev Hynes

“Every day there’s a lot of things I block out, because if I start visualizing things, I tend to go completely insane. I’ve always had anxiety issues, and it can totally overwhelm me and suck me under if I’m not keeping focused. I just think and think until I have a panic attack, and then it dies down.”
– Dev Hynes (British singer, composer, songwriter, producer and author)

“A brain scan may reveal the neural signs of anxiety, but a Kokoschka painting, or a Schiele self-portrait, reveals what an anxiety state really feels like. Both perspectives are necessary if we are to fully grasp the nature of the mind, yet they are rarely brought together.”
– Eric Kandel (American neuropsychiatrist and Nobel Prize-winner)

“The person I am in the company of my sisters has been entirely different from the person I am in the company of other people. Fearless, powerful, surprising, moved as I otherwise am only when I write.”
– Franz Kafka (German-Czech author after whom the term “Kafkaesque was coined.”)

“Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.”
– Anonymous (found in a Chinese fortune cookie)

“There is an element in which anxiety co-represents with aspects of my personality I wouldn’t want to give up. It allows you to have foresight. I may not be as empathetic. It’s hard to figure out the difference between pathology and personality.”
– Scott Stossel

“Both depression and anxiety disorders, for example, are repeatedly described in the media as ‘chemical imbalances in the brain,’ as if spontaneous neural events with no relation to anything outside a person’s brain cause depression and anxiety.”
– Siri Hustvedt (American novelist and essayist)

“Anxiety is not fear, exactly, because fear is focused on something right in front of you – a real and objective danger.”
– Robin Marantz Henig (American science writer)

Sia - Anxiety Quotes

“I have social anxiety. It’s easier up on stage because there’s security in being there. When I’m off stage I’m trying not to be a manic freak. I’m quite shy.”
– Sia (Australian singer and songwriter)

“Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is, with thoughts of what may be.”
– John Dryden (17th Century English poet and playwright)



By the way, Soren Kierkegaard who is quoted above wrote an entire treatise on the topic of anxiety: Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin. I don’t recommend you read this as a self-help primer on the subject (the title alone makes me anxious). But it does present the interesting philosophical view that anxiety is the result of having too many choices.


Looking for information on anxiety, its symptoms, treatment and resources for help? Be sure to visit our anxiety information pages.

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Jay Boll, Editor in Chief www.rtor.org

4 thoughts on “Positive Quotes on Living with Anxiety

  1. Diane Schneider says:

    For me, anxiety and courage go hand in hand. It is so inspiring that people move forward in the face of so much anxiety as evidenced by the words of the very successful people you mention. My favorite quote is by Mary Ann Radmacher “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow”

  2. Denise Vestuti, Resource Specialist says:

    Great article Jay. This is a favorite quote of mine: “Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.” Joan Borysenko

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