“Anxiousness is the dizziness of freedom.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
Let’s be clear:
This isn’t an article about constructive considering.
This isn’t an article about how silver linings make all the pieces okay.
This isn’t an article about how your perspective on anxiousness is all incorrect.
The youngsters name these issues “poisonous positivity.”
No poisonous positivity right here.
This is an article about my lifelong relationship with anxiousness and what I’ve realized from one thing that received’t go away. At occasions the anxiousness spikes and feels nearly crippling. I’ve a tough time appreciating the training at these occasions, but it surely’s nonetheless there.
That’s what this text is all about.
Please don’t confuse me studying issues from one thing that received’t go away with me endorsing that factor or saying it’s a very good factor. I might commerce all the pieces I’ve realized from anxiousness for much less anxiousness. I don’t even like writing about it as a result of specializing in it this a lot provides me anxiousness. However I wish to write issues that assist individuals.
How a Naked Butt Sparked My Anxiousness
Stranger Issues has proven how cool the eighties had been. For essentially the most half, that is true. I miss arcades and the music. I miss the liberty I had as a child that I don’t see children having today. I miss among the trend. I don’t miss individuals not figuring out something about psychological well being.
We used to play soccer each day after college at a baseball discipline/park in our little city. This was unsupervised sort out soccer with children quite a bit older than me.
I bear in mind one time a man broke his finger. It was pointing again at him at a ninety-degree angle. He took off sprinting towards his home. One of many older children mentioned, “He’s working house to mommy!” and all of us went again to enjoying.
Oddly sufficient, probably breaking my finger didn’t fear me. What did fear me was someday when a child was working for a landing, and one other child dove to cease him. He solely caught the highest of his pants, pulling them down and exposing his naked butt. He made the landing anyway, however whereas everybody else thought it was hilarious, it scared me to loss of life.
What if that occurs to me?
I began tying my pants up with a string each day, pulling it tight sufficient to make my abdomen damage (bear in mind, this was the eighties—I used to be carrying these neon-colored pajama-pant-looking issues). I began to really feel sick earlier than we performed soccer, earlier than college, and earlier than all the pieces.
You’ll suppose it was apparent that I used to be coping with anxiousness, however you need to keep in mind that within the eighties and nineties, we didn’t speak about psychological well being like we do now. We didn’t throw round phrases like anxiousness and despair. I used to be simply the bizarre child that threw up earlier than he went to highschool.
The anxiousness has gotten slightly extra noticeable over the previous few years. It appears to have gotten worse since having COVID in 2020 and 2021. I don’t know if that’s a factor, but it surely appears like it’s. It has pressured me to cope with it mindfully and with extra intention. It’s by no means nice, however I’ve realized a couple of issues.
1. Anxiousness has taught me to be current.
The crushing presence of excessive anxiousness forces me to be precisely the place I’m at that second. I’m not in a position to learn or write. I can’t play a online game or watch a film with any sort of enjoyment. There’s nothing I can do.
This roots me within the second in a really intense, genuine means. That may appear dangerous since I’m anxious, however there’s one other layer to it. Once I could be utterly current with the physiological sensations of tension, I acknowledge that they’re power within the physique. Once I’m tremendous current, I can see how my thoughts is popping these sensations into the emotion we name anxiousness, and that’s the place my struggling comes from.
2. Anxiousness has taught me about management.
I’ve been advised that my hyper-independence and should be ready for something is a trauma response. I used to be a therapist for ten years, and I nonetheless don’t know what to do with this info. I do know that anxiousness provides me a crash course in what I can management and what I can’t management.
The dangerous information is that I can’t management any of the issues that I feel are creating anxiousness. The excellent news is that I can management my response to all these issues. Anxiousness forces me to do that in a really intentional means.
Anxiousness additionally places my thoughts firmly on one thing greater than myself. Perhaps it’s that increased energy we hear about in AA conferences and on award reveals. It’s good for me to get outdoors my head and keep in mind that I’m not answerable for something. It’s useful to solely field inside my weight class.
3. Anxiousness teaches me to have good habits and bounds.
I’m dangerous about permitting my habits and bounds to slide when occasions are good. I begin consuming poorly, I cease exercising, I keep up too late, and I watch a bunch of reveals and flicks that beam darkness and distraction instantly into my head.
I additionally begin to permit unhealthy and even poisonous individuals to have a extra outstanding position in my life. That is all underneath the guise of serving to them as a result of individuals attain out to me quite a bit. Over time, I’ve realized I’ve to restrict how shut I let essentially the most poisonous individuals get to me, regardless of how a lot assist they want.
Once I’m feeling good, I begin considering I can deal with something, and my boundaries slip. Anxiousness is all the time a reminder that the unhealthiness in my life has penalties, and I clear home when it spikes.
4. Anxiousness jogs my memory how necessary progress is.
As soon as I clear home, I begin new initiatives and issues I can do to really feel higher. I begin taking the subsequent step in who I wish to be. This has been troublesome over the previous three years as a result of the waves of tension have been so intense, however I see the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel as the great habits I put in place and the brand new initiatives and issues I began are starting to return to fruition.
I selected to let my counseling license go inactive and concentrate on life teaching as a result of it’s much less irritating, and I’m higher at it. This could not have occurred with out anxiousness. I’ve modified my weight loss program and train in response to blood strain and anxiousness, and these are good habits to have whether or not I’m anxious or not.
5. Anxiousness taught me to be mild.
I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about my want to be gentler with individuals. I’m not unkind, and I’ve quite a lot of compassion for individuals, however that is usually expressed gruffly or too instantly. It’s how I used to be raised, and I usually really feel like I’m patronizing individuals if I stroll in verbal circles after I’m making an attempt to assist them with one thing.
Once I’m experiencing excessive anxiousness I really feel fragile, which helps me perceive how different individuals may really feel within the face of my bluntness. I began engaged on being gentler round 2018, and I used to be disillusioned in my progress.
It was additionally round that yr that anxiousness started to turn into a fixture in my life once more. As I look again now, I can acknowledge that I’m quite a bit gentler with everybody round me after I’m anxious. Being slightly fragile helps me deal with all people else with slightly extra care.
6. Anxiousness taught me to decelerate and ask for assist.
Once I began experiencing elevated anxiousness, it led me to make fast choices and alter issues to attempt to cope with it. This is sensible. Evolutionarily, anxiousness is supposed to immediate us to motion.
The issue was that these choices not often turned out to be my greatest ones and infrequently led to different penalties I needed to cope with down the road. Due to this, I’ve realized that an anxiousness spike shouldn’t be the time to make large choices.
If I’ve to decide about one thing, I decelerate and attempt to be very intentional about it. I’ve additionally realized I would like to speak it out with anyone else, one thing I’ve by no means been inclined to do. Asking for assist is an effective factor.
7. Anxiousness helps me pace up.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that is the other of what I simply mentioned.
Let me make clear.
One of the crucial necessary quotes I’ve ever learn got here from the people singer Joan Baez: “Motion is the antidote to anxiousness.” (Years later, I realized she might need mentioned despair as an alternative of tension, however I heard it the primary means).
Some duties carry anxiousness that I don’t wish to cope with. These normally contain cellphone calls or emails to bureaucratic organizations or errands that I discover disagreeable and anxiety-inducing (avoiding these additionally is sensible—our evolutionary legacy can’t perceive why we’d do one thing which will really feel harmful).
Over time, I’ve realized that anxiousness diminishes if I take the steps I have to take to handle these duties. The cool factor is that this has translated over to lots of my day-to-day duties.
By performing within the face of tension, I’ve gotten fairly good about doing issues after they should be completed. I mow the garden when it must be mowed, take out the trash when it must be taken out, put the laundry up when it must be put up, and get the oil modified in my truck when it must be modified.
As soon as we begin addressing duties instantly, it turns into a behavior. Anxiousness helped me do that.
Anxiousness Nonetheless Sucks
So there you go. Seven issues anxiousness has taught me. I’m grateful for these classes, however they don’t make anxiousness any more easy within the second.
Anxiousness is supposed to suck. It’s meant to make issues troublesome and uncomfortable for us till we do one thing to handle the issue. The issue, sadly, is usually un-addressable today.
We fear about issues like dropping our job, not having sufficient cash, divorce, and the final state of the world. Anxiousness didn’t develop to handle any of these items, so typically being comfy with discomfort is the most effective we will supply ourselves.
Perhaps that’s the very last thing anxiousness is educating me.
About James Scott Henson
James is a author who needs to assist individuals overcome challenges and make necessary modifications of their lives. He has labored for over twenty years as a social employee, meditation trainer, and licensed skilled counselor. Having discovered his house in life teaching, he helps others obtain their objectives and create the life they need. As a author, James shares useful posts on Substack, writing 1000’s of phrases every month to encourage, problem, and inspire his subscribers.