When it’s raining (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen very often in Los Angeles), I often find myself focusing on my car’s windshield wipers — and what other people think about how fast they are going.
If it’s sprinkling, I worry other people will laugh at me for having them on at all. If it’s raining a little harder and I increase the speed, I worry people will think I’m being dramatic (if they only knew how much I wished my car had suitable windshield wiper speeds!). Then when it starts to pour, I heave a sigh of relief because at least now I can justify using them.
When I take a step back and realize my irrational anxious thoughts got the best of me, I laugh and remind myself I would never have to justify my windshield wiper usage — because literally no one cares about my windshield wipers.
If you can relate, you’re not alone! Thankfully, we aren’t the only ones with irrational anxious thoughts. I wanted to know what other “embarrassing” irrational thoughts people with anxiety can have, so I asked our community to share their experiences. Read what they shared below.
Before beginning, it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes anxious thoughts like mine can be funny, but other times, they can be chronic and debilitating. Let’s be mindful that anxiety presents differently for everyone who experiences it, and strive to treat people who are struggling with the compassion and understanding they deserve.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. ‘The cashier thinks I’m weird for buying this.’
“I hate grocery shopping because what if I buy weird stuff? What if the cashiers face disapproves of my food choices?” — Jamie L.
2. ‘Do people think my windshield wipers are going too fast?’
“I get anxious that when it’s sprinkling, my windshield wipers are going too fast and people will notice and laugh at me, thinking I’m overreacting. It’s the silliest thought, but I’ve had it for years. I have to argue with myself that it’s irrational and end up feeling bad because I am this way.” — Shel O.
“As weird as this sounds, I am worried people judge me for extremely trivial things, like what speed my windshield wipers are going when it’s raining. It doesn’t even make sense to my rational side of my brain, let alone to anyone who doesn’t understand what anxiety is like.” — Katherine H.
3. ‘Am I faking my pregnancy?’
“When I was pregnant, I have strong thoughts of anxiety that I was faking my pregnancy — even though I was obviously pregnant. We had an ultrasound on our fridge and we heard a heartbeat, but I was irrationally scared I was making it up. I’ve never had a history of faking things or convincing myself I was sick either. So yeah, very irrational.” — Amanda M.
4. ‘That stranger knows my secret.’
“That everybody knows my deepest darkest secrets/traumas and that they judge me for it, even strangers, which then turns my anxiety into paranoia.” — Jay S.
5. ‘If I put my hand in my purse, the store will think I’m stealing something.’
“If I’m shopping with my boyfriend, family members or friends and anyone puts a hand in their pocket, I instantly panic that the store security cameras are on us and they think we are stealing something! Even if I know it’s just to get their phone, grab keys, etc. The anxiety kicks in every time.” — Sarah W.
6. ‘Someone’s going to throw up.’
“If I’m around drunk people at party, on public transportation, at a carnival or around a lot of little kids, I’m always paranoid someone will throw up. I have a huge phobia of it.” — Shannon P.
7. ‘They didn’t really mean what they said. No one ever does.’
“One irrational thought that embarrasses me is my near-instant belief that nobody ever says what they mean, and everyone has ulterior motives for everything. I know it’s irrational, I know it’s untrue, but I’m embarrassed it’s still a go-to thought for me.” — Robbi C.
8. ‘I can’t go to the beach because a crab will pinch my toes.’
“I’m afraid to visit anywhere near the ocean because [I think] a giant crab will snap my toes off with their claws… I’ve been to the ocean before and never even saw a crab. I don’t know why I’m afraid of them.” — Maggie J.
9. ‘People think I smell.’
“I always feel people watch me while I eat and walk. I always think people think I smell.” — Krystle A.
“I often think people can smell my anxiety and then start smelling myself to check if I smell. Then I worry people think I smell, etc. It’s trauma-based as I sadly was told by an unkind adult when I was tiny that I ‘stink…’” — Amma I.
10. ‘I need to duck when we drive under a bridge so I’m safe.’
“I have an irrational fear of driving under bridges with trains traveling on them. When it happens (and it happens a lot where I live), I have to duck down for a split second. (I do this because I think I’m safer lower down in the car if the train and bridge suddenly collapse on us). My daughter and husband make fun of me every time I do it. So embarrassing!” — Elizabeth N.
11. ‘People at work think I’m incompetent.’
“That I don’t fit in at work. I love my job and work with some great people. It’s constant anxiety that someone will think I’m incompetent. When I get a compliment, I feel like an imposter. It’s completely irrational.” — Walter H.
“People will know I am incompetent and not good enough to do my job.” — Kaeta J.
12. ‘Can I get that cheaper at another grocery store? Do I really need it? Am I wasting my money?’
“The one thing that sends me spiraling into a panic attack is grocery shopping. My mom and I are struggling financially. My brain overloads when I’m shopping and I overthink. ‘Do you need that?’ ‘Could you get it cheaper somewhere else?’ ‘Is that the best deal?’ ‘What if you get home and realize you wasted your money?’ I get so overwhelmed shopping that my mom refuses to let me go alone. Every time I go alone, I have a panic attack. I’m almost 26 and I can’t go to the grocery store by myself. That’s embarrassing and makes me feel like less of an adult.” — Emily H.
13. ‘They think I’m chewing too loudly.’
“I’m so terrified that everyone can hear me chewing in a loud dining hall on my university campus. Every laugh or conversation happening around me, I immediately think it’s about my chewing, so I try to barely chew. Sometimes I just swallow whole to make less noise. Even though nobody is near me and it’s not true at all, I go through this three days a week.” — Mariah J.
14. ‘I’m going to poop myself.’
“That I’m going to poop myself in public. I have IBS-D and sometimes it’s really hard to hold it until I find a bathroom. I’ve never pooped myself, but it’s a legitimate trigger thought.” — Jennifer M.
15. ‘I’m breathing too loudly.’
“I worry that I’m breathing too loudly. I’m not sure why I’m just always worried I’ll be ‘that’ person you can hear breathing across the room. All started after my brother pointed it out to me once.” — Kristine S.
16. ‘They think I’m annoying.’
“I constantly think I annoy everyone. That people have to tolerate me. It’s automatic. No matter who is around me or where I am. I apologize for everything and honestly believe no one wants me around. It embarrasses me when my co-workers, family members and friends tell me to stop apologizing or when they think I’m being ridiculous because I really feel this way.” — Nicole L.
“I feel like I’m annoying everyone around me. I talk about my anxiety, but I feel like everyone thinks I’m being a melodramatic whiner.” — Nicole B.
17. ‘Someone’s going to break into my house.’
“I have a lot of irrational fears because of my anxiety, but the one that stands out the most, and can cause an instant panic attack, is the thought of someone breaking into my house. I’ll run around the house, double-checking the locks on doors and windows, while 911 is ready to be dialed.” — Miranda J.
18. ‘My partner is mad at me.’
“I have the irrational fear my husband is always mad at me. He never is but I constantly ask him if everything is OK or if he’s mad. Ugh, it bothers me so much, but I can’t stop.” — Mollie A.
19. ‘People can hear my bad thoughts about them.’
“I often feel paranoid that people will hear my thoughts, especially if I’m thinking of how annoyed I am with someone. So I force myself to think good things about that person just in case. Totally irrational.” — Erika G.
20. ‘There are snakes in my toilet.’
“There are snakes in my toilet waiting to bite my butt.” — Sam Z.
If you live with “embarrassing” or irrational thoughts due to your anxiety, you’re not alone. If anxiety is affecting your daily functioning, reach out to a trusted mental health professional for support.
For more on anxiety, check out these stories from our Mighty community:
- We Can’t Keep Treating Anxiety From Complex Trauma the Same Way We Treat Generalized Anxiety
- 21 Habits of People With ‘High-Functioning’ Anxiety
- Why I’m So ‘Loud’ Despite Depression and Social Anxiety