I didn’t even realize I had anxiety, until last year.
Up until that moment, my sister stopped by after a session with her counselor to inform me that, we both likely suffer from anxiety and that probably transferred down to us from our parents.
Before that moment, I assumed that the average normal person, experienced life that same as us.
I Assumed Everyone Lived Like This
I thought it was normal for everyone to worry a lot about the future, especially if something important was planned. If I had a work meeting on Wednesday, come Sunday night, my body would tense and I could feel my heartrate pounding stronger in my chest, just thinking about that 30 minute meeting that would be taking place.
At work, while clicking away at my computer, my shoulders, neck and face would become stiff and tight. I assumed that the bosses were intensely watching me and just waiting for the moment, I let my guard down so that they could threaten to fire me. (Although I have years of exceptional work performance reviews…I was convinced that I still would be fired one day.)
At grocery stores I would have my organized list clutched in my hand while darting out of the way and over apologizing to the other shoppers, convinced that my presence in the aisle, was getting in their way of shopping.
I’ve always been like this. I’m not able to fully relax or let my guard down unless I was safe at home and thinking nice thoughts. And up until that moment, I assumed that’s how everyone lived.
But after hearing that it likely came from my parents….it all made sense. Yea, my parents are both really anxious people. And it would only make sense, that I was their over anxious and super uptight spawn.
“Was this the reason most people don’t talk to me at work?” I thought. “Was this the reason why I don’t really have a lot of friends?” I gulped.
And at that moment, I realized that most of problems, are my fault. And I vowed to change it.
After this realization, I began to sit silently and paid attention to my thoughts and how my body would react.
A great, meditation teacher that I now follow, Mindful Matt, has said, “let your suffering be your teacher.” Do not try to get rid of it, but instead learn and grow from it.
So, in paying attention to it, I’ve realized that when I’m anxious I’m highly uncomfortable, physically and mentally. There is this surge of energy that electrifies my insides and it’s hard to remain still and silent. In the past, this is when I would typically react and say something or do something I would eventually regret.
But now to combat and try to control these emotions, I do the only thing I can and that’s to try to focus on my breathing and to remain silent.
In the beginning it was really tough and I felt like I was being a “passive’ person. But, after getting out of the meetings and having that deeper inner reflection, I’m walking away not feeling upset or completely mortified. In fact, I walk away feeling better about myself.
What I’ve Learned
Nothing Bad Really Happens.
A lot of fears about future events that I think will happen, never actually ends up happening. So when I feel the thought arise, I remind myself of this, I tell myself to just go along with the flow of whatever is happening.
I’m ONLY in control of myself
My thoughts and my actions. That is all I have control over. As long as I act with good intentions, I don’t need to feel anxious over what people may think of me. If I know I’m coming from a good place in my heart, then that’s all I have control over and a person a take it or leave it.
Relax, to the Max
Relaxing your body, ultimately leads to your mind relaxing as well. If my thoughts are racing or I don’t feel like I’m in a good mental state, my shoulders and face are typically really tense. Once I acknowledge that and give into relaxing them, I find that I’m much better mentally as well.
Patience and Kindness
I wish I could tell you that this all happened overnight….but it didn’t. So far it’s been about a year….and I’m still a work in progress.
In the beginning I would get upset with myself for feeling the anxiety. But, just like a little kid learning to walk, you can’t do it all at once, it’s something you work up to. And, just like I would never yell at a little kid ….I shouldn’t yell at myself either.
We are all just trying the best we can….so we need to show ourselves kindness.
I’m still learning and coping with my anxiety. It’s weird, but even now, working from home during this whole COVID-19, I still get anxious before our zoom meetings.
But, I can tell you that by meditating, sitting still and being kind to myself…I’m definitely in a healthier mental place, than I was before.
Suffering from anxiety sucks, but recognizing it and working on it has made me a lot happier and relaxed than I can remember throughout my whole life.