Last night I was chatting with a friend about sadness and depression, and how when we’re rewriting our narratives, this feeling gets worse. It’s because we’re questioning everything we’ve been told about ourselves—life in general—and then wiping the slate clean.
It’s tough starting fresh. Hard to look at all we’ve been raised with, our assumptions and expectations, and flipping them on end. But while difficult, it’s also necessary. And not just for those with trauma. I think this is good for all people to do. Then keep what you find relevant, and toss the rest.
I brought some of my new revelations to therapy today. Also talks on rewriting narrative, which I’m doing more of. So much rewriting. And I catch myself on little things sometimes, and I have to stop and think about them. Things that I’m assuming based on an unreliable narrator. That narrator usually being someone that hurt me and had reason for me to stay quiet and not question.
I’m often reminded to ‘consider the source’.
While this is great advice, sometimes that narration is coming from me. My fear of history repeating itself, which then causes me to self sabotage, and this fear brings with it great amounts of anxiety.
Today, my therapist talked about her own anxiety. She’s not really done that before, but today she did.
She shared about a car accident she was in. Pretty severe one, actually, and it caused her to have so much fear of driving and being in a car that she’d panic behind the wheel. Drive 30 in a 50. Then project that fear onto her passengers and they’d feel that fear too. All her anxiety was reaching out and grabbing hold of those around her.
I asked how she got past this, and she said, “I stopped respecting my anxiety.”
This isn’t something I’d normally share, just because this post isn’t all about me, but what she told me hit home. Not just for me, but with so many people I know. Friends and family that have such high anxiety. And I discovered that many of us include respecting our anxiety in our narrative.
According to my therapist, this will never work. You cannot respect your anxiety and expect it to resolve itself. You have to do the thing that makes you feel anxious. Do it so many times that you have no choice but to rewrite that narrative.
I realized that while I face some anxiety—as in I speak on panels and in front of large crowds, or I blog publicly about my personal life—other bits of anxiety causing stuff I steer away from. And this isn’t helping me. This is supporting the narrative that I can’t do this, I have too much anxiety.
The only way to deal with our anxiety is to expose ourselves to it. Not to run or give in to it, but to disrespect it completely. Give it the finger if we must. Recognizing that we are the ones giving it power by showing respect to something that might have served us in the past, or might be trying to serve us now, but is hindering us instead.
This isn’t to say that we have to tackle everything at once. I’m still not ready to face some of my anxiety. I know I will at some point, but only when I’m ready. Because while my therapist had one thing to face, I’ve got many. As well as others I know. When your list is a mile long, or you have social anxiety, where there isn’t a clear way to disrespect it, this task is much more difficult. Things like conventions can be debilitating for some. But the fact they show up at all, is disrespecting their anxiety.
This is why compassion towards one another is vital. Because we really can’t know all that goes on in someone’s head. Or what they had to do just to attend a simple event. Something that others of us are like, party time! might be torture to someone else. This is where we can uplift and assist, rather than judge.
I’m linking to a friend of mine, M.S. Chavez, because she made a post today called Dealing With Anxiety. It’s a great post, and it really resonated with me. I mention this because she struggled whether or not to post it, and she chose to disrespect her anxiety, and posted it anyway. This is the exact thing my therapist was talking about. It’s these choices that not only move us past our anxiety and limitations, but also help others. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, please check out her article. It’s very much worth the read.
Today did not pan out like I’d expected. Plans changed, this morning’s session wasn’t what I thought it’d be about, and now I’m here—again—writing another blog just a day after my last one. And that’s okay. Things happen when they happen. I’m thankful to have the knowledge and understanding that each time we choose to do something that makes our stomach hurt, or causes a migraine (often in my case), we stretch and grow and become stronger.
We become brave leaders.
From now on, I will make each decision around my anxiety after asking myself if I’m respecting it, or disrespecting it. It seems the right thing to do after all my talks around this today. So anxiety, watch out!