Here is where I am, anxiety-ridden without being able to describe the “why”. I feel it, and I know the feeling well. If you ask what I am anxious about I likely cannot tell you. What causes the anxiety is a tornado of thoughts and emotions all at once, therefore to identify the ONE thing is impossible because it becomes everything all at once. The saying “when it rains it pours” comes to mind. As an analogy the saying defines anxiety as every drop of rain being a worry and the storm represents the thousands of worries coming down all at once. It is paralyzing.
While it is impossible to define it there are ways to calm it. The issue is that when we are “in the storm” we find it hard to know which umbrella to grab to protect us from becoming drenched. That paralysis prevents us from grabbing an umbrella for the lack of being able to decide which umbrella to grab. However we know that grabbing any one of them will provide some shelter. Meditation, walking, listening to music, calling a friend…any one of these things will bring relief; sitting in it will only soak us and eventually we are drowning in worry, in anxiety.
Today’s blog entry is not going to offer a laundry-list of ideas on how to resolve anxiety because if I were the “expert” or even the “practitioner” I would not be a prisoner of it in my life. Instead I am going to identify with it, find a way to verbalize it and then resolve that it is what it is and now it is time to do something about it.
Staying “in it” cannot ever be “the answer” because anxiety does not serve us well in the long-run. It is worth noting that there can be short-term benefits to anxiety as it does create action or movement. If you are able to capture it as it is happening it can bring about provoking thought and observation as the worry is so enhanced that you see it different. It is more colorful, it is loud, it is active. Grabbing those moments as they are showing themselves can serve pivotal as a paradigm-shift.
Olivia Remes in her TED Talk said, “People with anxiety think a lot about what they are doing wrong. If you had a friend that constantly pointed out what you are doing wrong…you would probably want to get rid of that person. People with anxiety do this to themselves all day long.” This is the truth. I admitted to a group of women that I was meeting with last week that I create my own expectations or better said rules to live by that then create added pressure to perform to a standard set by myself. When I cannot perform to the level I have set I feel the failure. I feel let-down regardless of how unrealistic my expectation was to begin. Letting yourself down may be the greatest let down of all.
What now? Well the easy first step is to stop creating rules or new expectations and instead live in the present. This is different than not planning. Having a long-term plan or goal is key to a purpose-driven life however quantity will negatively affect the quality of those goals. Too many takes away from the ability to focus on the few that add true quality or value to life. My first step this week is to let go of those rules, goals or standards that I have set for myself that are not serving me well. It does not mean that I don’t continue to do those things that I know are moving me forward but to not create a “standard” allows me to enjoy it more as it is being achieved versus only feeling the benefit once complete.
It is the journey and not the final destination that matters as that is what this life is, it is now. All that has passed cannot return and all that is in front of us will never be realized. We only have what is right now and living outside of that is lacking reality. Anxiety in my life is born from the past and the future and rarely in the present. It evolves from what I have not done or need to do versus what I am doing right now. This week I vow to keep it in the present. Keep it “real” and enjoy the journey. Enjoy what we have in this moment because tomorrow is not a reality nor may it ever be so to allow it to affect the present is where torture lies.
Life as I am IN it – L.