Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way right now. I am not a therapist, a doctor, an engineer, a priest or a manicurist. I’m also not a plumber or a wizard or a barista. I’m a life coach. A life coach, if they’re worth their salt, should be a good listener and one of their main jobs is to help people identify their self-beliefs that have created patterns and quite possibly unhelpful behaviors, that run their life. My job is to also make people laugh but I get that not everyone has that skill. I also want to add that you shouldn’t look to a blog post to change your life. Also, a blog isn’t meant as a diagnosis tool and lastly, you should take yourself seriously and seek human support if you need it. You’re totally worth it.
Now, where was I? Oh yah. Anxiety.
Lots of people are anxious. It’s like shoulder pads in the 80’s. It’s everywhere. And this year seems to have been a humdinger for people who already struggled with anxiousness or deep worrying. And if you’ve previously never suffered from anxiety, this year might’ve found you dipping your toes in the anxiety kiddie pool. Here’s what I’m thinking.
I see three P’s when I think of anxiety; painful, progressive and potential. And just remember my disclaimers. I’m not an engineer or a manicurist. Anxiety is so painful. And here’s where I use my imagination. I’ve never really had anxiety. Worried about things? Sure. Over pondered? You bet. But clinically anxious? No. I share that just in case you think everyone has anxiety. I share that to give someone hope. Now, there’s a difference between “normal” anxiety and clinical/problematic anxiety. Normal anxiety is intermittent and is expected based on certain situations. The more intense/clinical/problematic/makes you want to flush your head down the toilet anxiety is chronic and irrational, incessant and can interfere with every day life. I think, but definitely for sure with clinical anxiety, there can also be physiological effects as well. If you’re still with me and thinking that I’m going to give you a magic wand, you can stop right where you are. I told you I’m not a wizard.
So, duh. Anxiety can be painful and the longer and the more you cycle through it, the more painful it must feel. I also see it as progressive. I think anxiety can be like an autoimmune disease/disorder and I do have one of those, so there. When you have an autoimmune disease your body turns on itself. It’s like the guy who overreacts at the dinner party after a few drinks; it won’t stop talking and doesn’t know when to leave. I wonder if that can happen with anxiety. It starts out as what I’d call appropriate worrying but then turns into a leaky toilet that runs after your flush. Eventually, you have to take the back off the toilet to see if the float needs to be adjusted. I know. I said I wasn’t a plumber but I know a smidge about leaky toilets. Which leads me to the potential. I think that it’s an interesting exercise to see where our mind takes us. To see what winds us up. To find the nuggets of our anxiety. It’s like my autoimmune stuff. It’s so easy for me to see numbness in my fingers as the problem. But if I can step back about 20 feet, I can see that it’s just a symptom. But if I focus on the numbness, I miss the point and I miss out on the potential to see the real problem. But it can be scary to get at the root of it. It can actually be easier to sit and spin on the symptoms.
In closing (I always wanted to be a lawyer), I’m sorry if problematic/clinical anxiety is a part of your life. If you are one of those intermittent anxious people, I invite you to work on it. Try some very fashionable mindfulness techniques to bring you back to the present. Early on in this Covid crisis, I was doing a daily meditation and one of the teachers (I believe it was the indomitable Sharon Salzberg) said that when we are anxious we are trying to predict the future. Which by the way is impossible! And we always seem to pick the crappy outcome. How come we never predict the best case scenario? Anyway, if you know me you know that I don’t fall for that “New year, new you” crap”. You’re already awesome but perhaps a goal can be to get curious about what you think and why you worry and how it affects your life. Or just watch more Netflix. Totally up to you. Happy new year everyone!