For the past 5 days I have woken up each morning feeling slightly anxious. I have to admit though, I almost invite the feeling into my day. I follow my morning routine and then decide to check in with my body. I’m on the hunt for that anxious feeling. Gosh, I might as well scream out “I’m awake…come and invade my body please”. I know the signs; an uneasiness in my stomach, a slightly racing heart that disappears when I am distracted with something else, a knot in the back of my neck, and a constant frown that leaves daily creases in my face when I am aware enough to relax my muscles.
I am very aware of this physiology because as someone who suffered from depression only a couple of years ago this was a part of my journey. In fact, it’s ironic that I can become even more anxious when I know I am anxious! This scares me because in the recesses of my mind I worry this is the start of another bout of depression. I have a very dear friend who overcame a battle with cancer. She once told me that even though she has been cancer free for some years, a headache or sore back instantly has her revisiting her cancer experience. I get that.
I’m grateful that I had my dance with depression. Grateful that I have an incredible husband who helped me recover from the experience, and grateful I had experts in my life who were able to offer me a map through the maze. In many ways I now embrace the experience because I’m at a better place for it, and importantly, I know what it feels like. I can be meta enough to know what to look for in myself, and I know this is not another depression session. This is, in fact, another lesson in self awareness.
I enjoy reading Sarah Wilson’s blog, and she recently explained her reasons for not buying a couch for her home. After detailed explanation about her situation, and comparing her position to the late Steve Job’s angst when it came to buying a washing machine I think she uncovered the root of the problem beautifully – “perfectionism and indecision masks the fear we’re not enough on our own.” Exactly. Truth be known, this is also why I am feeling anxious these past few days. Not so much the need for perfectionism (well, maybe just a little) but the niggling feeling that I’m not good enough. The more I talk to people who are in conflict the more it seems that the essence of the problem can almost always be traced back to a sense that they’re not good enough. The day to day issue is a symptom of the underlying personal belief. My day to day issues are work, family and project related at first glance, but I know that dealing with a business issue (for example) is not enough to create the deep lines in my forehead. I do that myself with far greater intensity by the thoughts I develop as a result of the day-to-day question. It is my choice to go there.
Thank God for depression. More feelings I can add to my swag of awareness. So, what am I doing to love myself and remind myself that I am (and always have been) good enough? Here’s what works for me:
- I remind myself every day that I am enough, and I seek out reminders where ever I can (here’s a nod to the lovely people who find such inspirational things to share online). I now actively look to be with positive life-hugging people, and I am brave enough to address those who may inadvertently trigger my self doubt (they’re not being nasty by the way, they are simply being themselves and I am the one having the reaction!).
- I remind myself that all we really have is right now – this very moment. Whatever sowed the seeds of doubt in my past is there, in my past. I’ve embraced my inner Doris Day and find myself humming Que Sera Sera from time to time to remind myself that the future is mine to see. Need a does of Doris?
- I’m applying some text book approaches too – working on a community project as a volunteer, and pursuing a hobby outside of my day to day routine. I’m loving it!
- I’ve developed a method to “check in” with my body and thoughts from time to time. To heighten my awareness of self, recognise what I am thinking or feeling, deal with it and get on with my day. I don’t want a minute, hour or day to pass when I am not embracing my very presence here. I think the gift of time has made this possible for me. I’m past the half way point in my life and I don’t want to lose the last half in a haze.
- Finally, after years of denial, I am starting to think about how what goes in my body is affecting my body. That’s a long long road ahead, so I’ll just touch on that here. Food for thought though (pardon the pun!).
What do you do when you feel anxious?