Today I was… anxious (as if that wasn’t obvious). Why? Because for once I didn’t say no.
Now usually in my anxietyac ways I would neither say yes or no, sound familiar? I normally can’t say no because I feel obligated to say yes. However, I don’t say yes either because I want to say no. Do you get me? So, I normally end up beating around the bush and coming out with the same tentative if not repetitive lines like: I can do or perhaps.
So a few days a go I finally said yes. My dad had booked me onto a soup course (because I’ve been cookin’ up a storm recently), to go to on my billybob. For once I said yes to make myself have to meet and talk to people. But, that wasn’t enough to stop the hit of regret or the depression seep under my skin. What had I done?
I couldn’t back out now. I had to do it (again I always feel obligated to do things -part of the whole judgement thing I have going on). When I got there. Sat on my own. I honestly felt stupid. Shaky. Judged. I got my mental crystal ball out and started to predict they saw me as this too quiet – awkward girl and I was embarrassed of myself.
Not only this, though today I felt particularly introverted. I had a weird chest which my mind kept on telling me that I was going to get a panic attack and humiliate myself.
Well I survived. Even on small social events an instinct tells us that we won’t survive, that we won’t be able to cope. Perhaps that is just our fight and flight on overdrive. I stuck at it.
In the end I settled down. I even managed to hold several conversations and became more relaxed as the rest of the course went on. So, what are the two things I have learnt from the experience. One is that you don’t have to keep pleasing everyone. For whatever reason with my social anxiety I expect others to expect how you should behave. I have made decisions based on what other people think i.e. holding on when you desperately need the loo (you don’t want to be rude) or feeling as if you have to eat everything offered to you even if you don’t want it. And the second is that we fear the anticipation more than anything else.
So, that is my anxious story of the day. Hopefully by taking these steps together and challenging ourselves even though our bodies tell us not to – we can get closer to saying goodbye to anxiety once and for all. So my next tip is the quote to feel the fear and do it anyway (all within good reason).
Life is often made out to be a list of decisions, stacked high and ready to be ticked off. Even the word itself “decision” has become as monstrously daunting and heavy as trying to go to sleep after watching a horror movie (which you told yourself not to watch) or hopelessly attempting to carry all your groceries (which you know you can’t) by running madly to the door before the weight keels you over.
As a teen, ‘decision making’ has been thrown, stuffed and flung down my throat **cough university. Not only that, but now there feels as if there is more pressure to make snap (couldn’t resist to click my fingers) decisions. It’s hard. And lets face it social expectations for not just us bubbled up teens, but for kiddies and the grownie ups too, seems to be coming to a boil.
Here is where you get your violin out… no I’m joking. What makes my decision making so hard for me personally is my anxiety. Which I hold my hands up and don’t doubt has affected everyone at some point. Whether that be trying to avoid that certain someone that has awkwardly blocked your path. Knowing whether to go for it and just ‘smile and wave’ or to quickly shuffle your butt out of there before they have a chance to see your face.
For me throughout my life so far there has been a clear line between my ‘aspirational decisions’ and my ‘anxious decisions’. How I see it is that you have the things that you would ‘in theory’ like to do if it were not for that tedious anxiety. And then pretty much all those anxious decisions that build a wall of avoidance we hide behind.
For sure anxiety has clouded my path. Now I can’t see the sign that should point me in the right direction. Perhaps others have passed me on this path, but I have been too scared to ask for their help so I am left here.
Feeling anxious of being judged has left my brain “confuzzled” (yes I like to blend words). It is mainly the bad narrator of my mind that makes me procrastinate, make excuses, literally doing anything, but come face to face with that decision.
It is like I’m or we are lost in an endless wood. We are tired, confused. We are all scared. What should we do? The answer is this… to find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view.
Let’s face it anxiety has got you running circles. However clichéd the image might now appear to be, anxiety has you fixed like a dog chasing its tail. Or rather if we were to put it into words (from an anxious mind), it’s like travelling a train that doesn’t stop. But what if? And this is an if, that it wasn’t the train that didn’t stop, but rather it was you. You can’t get off at the next stop because you fear that unknown when you pass those scratched metal doors. It is the fear that disables us to get off a stop and make a decision.
Anxiety has us on autopilot. It is up to us to decide to put matters into our own hands and take the wheel. Okay, so I was a bit cheesy there. But, it helped get to the point, right? As strange as it sounds, and trust me it took quite a while to get my head around. Anxiety is our comfort zone. You’re confused, right? So was I, and like you the very of idea of putting the words anxiety and comfort zone in a sentence would have angered me. However, oddly enough this is true!
Anxiety is our comfort zone and everything else appears out of it. A few months ago when I became more relaxed in social situations or felt like I could cope with it more my brain started to get confuzzled. It sounds strange, but it was like my body couldn’t fathom as to why I wasn’t so anxious – that it wasn’t natural not to feel it. Then I had thoughts like whoa you should be feeling anxious right now – why aren’t you feeling anxious? It was fighting against me. You might have experienced this too?
So, why do we feel like this? How is it that when we feel anxious it feels as if we are in our comfort zone and when we don’t we feel totally out of that comfortable circle? The answer is loud and clear. We need time. Often we have lived so long with these habits, years that when we break them it can take time to re-adjust. Just like if you have moved an object from where you would usually have it. You then have to consciously think of where you left it and retrace your steps. This is the same with us sometimes we will have to retrace our steps in order to become less anxious. But, it is important that you do. Like any young mind I can be impatient, and at times naively expect things to change in an instant. The reality is they don’t. Anything where the mind is involved takes time. And changing years of thinking and habits, is head down-and-keep-going sort of work.
I know now what you’re thinking…You are babbling on about this, but you haven’t told me how. I don’t have all the answers, though I can try. In my next post I will talk about some good techniques I found in a book about anxiety that can help.
I hope you all have had happy days. Talk to you on my next post!
By the time I think of how to put this into words I will have finished the tube of Smarties that are sitting at my desk. Perhaps it’s my kiddish side thinking that with each time I’m not typing or thinking about thinking that having a ‘smartie’ will give me a smart idea. I can’t quite decide whether this ideology is right or wrong, either way I’m typing this down.
Yep the Smarties have now officially gone – I’m sorry you should have asked if you wanted me to save you one. Anywho, I have shredded my anxiety. Literally shredded. Like it has been torn into little tiny shreds in a monster machine that has gobbled them up. And I’m not going to lie it was a bit of an anti-climax. There was no-one singing or a rainbow shooting over my head, but it still felt pretty darn good.
So, it all came about when someone decided to give me a message in the form of a little reading. Believe what you will, but it felt like there was some reason that it caught my eye. Funnily enough it talked about casting off your anxiety, do you see the irony now? Well, not only did it talk about throwing away your woes, but seeing your common worries as if they were an annoying mosquito. And what do you do when you see that mosquito? You normally slap it off as soon as your brain has registered the beady little thing that it was you were staring at. It told me, this is how we should view anxiety. When in the scenarios such as the mosquito or in fight and flight, we don’t spend time doddling about in our thoughts, we deal with instantly. Just like when we touch boiling water, our instinct is to jump away – not to think. Therefore, that is just how we should treat anxiety.
Too often we tip-toe around ourselves in an obvious game of hide and seek. Too many times do we try to shove what we fear to the corner of our minds like quickly closing the doors of a wardrobe that has too many clothes in – then running away. We know what is going to happen. That the clothes are going to fall out and everything is going to be a mess. But we choose not to face it. We say not now and do not look back. However, now you realise if you had dealt with the wardrobe in the first place, if you took some of the clothes out and dealt with them, you wouldn’t be faced with the seemingly bigger problem later.
I suppose it is like the time when you know something is going to fall out the fridge when the next person opens it. But, you don’t have to deal with it – so you close the door quick. On the day this happens to you, you are the one who has to clean it up. Just like with your mind. If you keep putting your worries aside. If you keep giving them fuel by not dealing with them straight away. Then you, yes you are the one who has to clean up. That milk carton has spilt everywhere and now instead of putting it somewhere else you have to clean up and perhaps bin some of the food it has leaked over.
So today I got a piece of paper and wrote numbering all the thoughts and worries I had. Once I had done this – read them aloud. I realised just how silly some of them were or how blinkered I had become. It made me feel selfish and ungrateful to read these things. This in itself made me realise that they were wrong. It put my thoughts in perspective rather than let them grow further. Then at last I did the deed. I shredded it. My thoughts were wrong. They were not me. Now do the same. You might be relieved to get some revenge on those nasty thoughts!
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