Anxiety is a funny thing. It sneaks in without you even noticing. Then it burrows itself in your belly, your throat, your head and…ugh…your heart.
It goes something like this (for those lucky few of you who don’t know). You start to feel a little off. Your head feels cloudy. Your throat starts to close up a bit. Your heart begins to race. All of a sudden it feels like it might rain. This little imaginary creature – mine is named Angshush Nelly – pops up on your left shoulder and starts asking you, “WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!”
Welcome to Anxiety City: A place where dreams, desires, passions, and risks are either propelled to greatness or swiftly tossed in the garbage.
You try to shake it off. You grab a drink with friends. You watch your favorite Bravo shows.
But the name of the drink you want is called Anxiarita. Your friend brings a new friend named Ann Siety. The Bravo show you pick is Real Housewives and…well, you know how that ends.
Anxiety is a real, live thing. It’s filled with fear, regret, and nerves. I’m drowning in it at the moment. As time goes on and I still don’t have a clear view of my path, the questions are circling and circling all around me.
Angshush Nelly: Why did you quit your job again? What is with all this working out? It’s been two months. What will you do if you blow through every cent you have? What if this is all a mistake?
Fi: Right? I mean…I don’t know. This is terrifying. I’m trying to elevate my life and trust the universe on this. But thanks for the reminders, Ms. Nelly…and friends…and family…and stranger on the train.
I’ve been trying a few things to shrink this anxiety monster down to size so that I can’t hear her anymore.
Meditation, for one, has been helpful. I think. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s helping but I’m going to stick with it because why not? I started using the Headspace app, which makes meditation super accessible, super easy, and kind of fun since it tracks your progress. I’ve been sticking to the free guided meditation options because I’m not ready to pay for something that can be done for $0.
Running has also helped calm me a bit. It forces me to live in the moment, untangle/uncover some thoughts, and to feel the earth under my feet. Left. Right. Left. Right. Here. Now. Here. Now.
The third thing I’m dabbling in is flipping the fear. This is a new one for me. I read about this approach in Jen Sincero’s You Are a Baddass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Instead of trying to eliminate your anxiety, Sincero suggests we face it head on and use this uncertainty to fuel progress. Use fear to conquer fear.
So when Ms. Nelly starts enveloping me with doubt, I should turn this doubt around.
Fi: What if I succumb to those scaries and miss the opportunity to live out my best life? The life I’ve dreamed of. What if I don’t take the necessary risks to reach my full potential? Will I be proud of myself for wimping out? No way. I’ll regret the hell out it.
Angshush Nelly: Sure. Fine. But what are you going to do? What if you (GASP) fail?
Fi: I’ve managed to figure things out up until now. I’ve made it this far. I’m sure I’ll find a way. And ok…what if I fail? At least I’ll know I did it my way. I’ve failed before and come out better and stronger for it. So, bring it.
Angshush Nelly: Ummm….hmmm…brb.
Yes, this dialogue is actually happening in my head at the moment. Ms. Nelly is a persistent little pain in the ass.
Anyway, Abraham Lincoln was a worry wart. Steve Jobs was paranoid. Jackson Pollack suffered intense anxiety. We tend to think some of those most accomplished people are free of fear. But take a look at that list of rockstars.
Flip. The. Fear.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Flip it and reverse it.
Let’s go, Angshush Nelly. We’ve got some flipping to do.