EP 16: High Functioning Anxiety and the Practice of Self-Kindness and Joy with Nancy Jane Smith

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Be a boss.

Hustle hard.

Love yourself.

Make it happen. 

You decide the outcome.

Do these phrases and mantras sound familiar? 

Usually, these sayings are used in the self-help world to boost your confidence both in life and work. The self-help industry makes us believe that we can make anything happen—but what if these mantras we hear repeated in the self-help industry actually make you feel worse

Enter High Functioning Anxiety. 

High Functioning Anxiety—HFA for short—is when you experience anxiety but instead of freezing you up from making progress, it actually propels you forward. While this might sound like an efficient way to meet or exceed your goals, it can also lead to over-functioning, perfectionism, self-doubt, and the false belief that endless worry somehow contributes to our success.

On today’s episode, I’m talking with Nancy Jane Smith, an author, counselor, and therapeutic coach all about high functioning anxiety. Nancy has a Masters Degree in Higher Education and in Community Counseling from the University of Dayton. 

Nancy is also a licensed professional counselor and coach specializing in high functioning anxiety with 13 years in private practice and has spent over 20+ years working as a counselor and coach. She has written three books on living happier, most notably The Happier Approach: Be Kind to Yourself, Feel Happier and Still Accomplish Your Goals. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What is High Functioning Anxiety and how is it different than anxiety?
  • Tools for working through High Functioning Anxiety
  • Why high functioning anxiety makes us believe that there’s only one right way—and once we figure it out, then we’ll be okay in the world
  • Myths that keep us stressed out
  • How to identify what your inner Monger sounds like and how to deal with it

Learn more about Nancy Jane Smith:



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