In my last post, I spoke about the importance of learning to love ourselves. I’ve received so many beautiful messages in private and am always amazed to see how my writing can truly help others. I’m grateful for each and every one of you who take the time to read my blog and share my posts with those you feel are in need of reading such content.
If you’ve been following me since the beginnings, by now, you must have figured out how anxiety has been a huge part of my journey. I’ve tried so many times to explain to others how difficult it can be to live such intense moments of anxiety. Since I’m good at writing, I’ve explained to friends and family, through images, what was going on in my brain. I don’t claim I’m an expert at talking about anxiety, nor am I giving any psychological or medical advice (please read my full disclaimer)… I’m simply sharing my experience.
My anxiety was triggered back in 2016 when I went through a burn out. I was then 36 years old. To be fully transparent, I don’t recall living any anxiety at all before that event. Maybe I did, I just did not know what it was. Let’s just say that it became clear after a major anxiety attack in which I felt as if I was dying. It might seem strange to many, but I was so caught up in a turmoil of thoughts and fears that I literally believed that my heart would explode.
From then on, it became clear that anxiety had become a part of my journey, or at least that I could now identify it. I’d also add that at that very moment in my life, it strangely became worse and, little did I know, it slowly pushed me into self-isolation.
Don’t Freak Out for That… Calm Down With Your Anxiety!
Luckily enough, I’ve had a couple of friends I could count on who’ve helped me deal with my struggles and my anxiety. It took me time to realize what was its root and what would trigger it… I couldn’t pinpoint any specific element, all I knew is that suddenly I’d be confronted with a crisis which I could hardly handle and I often felt something to my throat almost as if I were choking.
In times like these, I’d feel my heart racing, my thoughts raging… I couldn’t express what was going on, nor answer friends who tried asking what it was, because my answers always sounded ridiculously banal.
Let’s just say that when anxiety is triggered, it is like a tempest of thoughts, ideas, problems that are storming in your mind. It is almost like a tornado. When you try to focus, you just see all these ideas flying by and they are all linked to each other, yet somehow dissociated, do not make sense. It’s almost as if, you are unable to rationalize every item, because through anxiety, they form a whole. So asking someone to express what he’s feeling or going through is as bad as answering: “Well, don’t freak out for that!”
Fear… The Root of Anxiety.
Only when the anxiety of the moment ends up appeasing itself are you able to rationalize certain elements, but during the storm. It’s a tough challenge. A friend truly helped me by teaching me breathing and visualization exercises. With those, I was slowly able to rationalize my thoughts and worries and slowly started figuring out that all these thoughts and ideas were triggered by the same element: fear.
I spoke about fear in a previous post, but I’d like to emphasize how it is often the root of anxiety. When it finally became clear that my life was imprisoned in fear, I slowly started noticing how all the negativity around me also was a trigger for my anxiety. That’s where my second friend came in, teaching me the importance of letting go, of being myself, of seeing obstacles as challenges, changes as new perspectives, and jumping in the emptiness as an opportunity to live.
There is one particular story he told me that helped me change perspective. It was a conversation with his mom. Let’s set the context. At that point in his life, he had been teaching for a while. His job gave him a pension plan and amazing conditions. That being said, he also hated his job.
When talking about it with his mom, he told her how he couldn’t leave his job because of his pension plan. His mom, full of wisdom, told him, “Well, seeing how you are hating your job, chances are you’ll get sick and won’t even get to the age of retirement. Why not take the risk and live now?”
Hopelessness… Triggered by Fear and Anxiety
It is such blessed advice. How often do we stick to situations because we fear change, we go through crisis of anxiety and start feeling hopeless? It’s as if we lose all perspective. It is so easy to inherit a family business, find a secure job with amazing conditions, but what if all of that is just making you totally unhappy?
Yet, because of fear of judgment and change, we end up believing that there is no hope for a better life, that those who risk often fail, etc., etc. That is such deep bullshit! Look at the many stories of actors, politicians, singers, poets, artists, etc. who’ve risked it all so they could live at last and ended up becoming famous!
You know what’s the worse of it all? Is that the only possible consequence is not death, but failure. And between you and me, what is failure? An occasion to grow, an occasion to learn. Fail! But try again! If you strongly believe and act upon your belief with dedication, you will succeed.
I believe part of our fears and feeling of hopelessness is a consequence of our education and upbringing. I can go on forever on this particular statement, but let me share a sentence from Antoine de Saint-Éxupery to reflect upon:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Aren’t we often just taught to follow the rules, or to learn a specific way of doing? The rich of this world often broke rules, took risky paths and had crazy dreams. Yet, they will often teach you to follow their own example … let’s just say they probably forgot where they came from!
Helplessness… The Ultimate Consequence of Fear and Anxiety
If you’ve been through storms of anxiety or are going through one now, the ultimate consequence of anxiety is a feeling of helplessness. You see hopelessness is believing there is no hope for you to get out of a certain situation. Helplessness is believing that no matter what you do or try, you will never succeed. The people who imprison you in a certain vision, will make you believe this … but those who truly care for your happiness will tell you the opposite.
One if the things I’ve realized for myself is that fear what triggered by certain people around me! What are people going to say? You’ll end up losing everything you have! You’re being selfish! You don’t care about those who love you, etc. those were some of the looped sentences I’d keep hearing!
Yet, they did not know that by projecting their own fears upon me, or constraining me into their vision of success, they were keeping me from living. In this desire to appease the fears of those around me, I was losing myself in my own fears and genuinely felt as if the only way out was to kill myself … that is unfortunately where helplessness will lead you.
In reality, hopelessness and helplessness were only triggered by the prison I had built with walls of fears. I was stuck for too long in a prison cell, somewhere in my brain, while all along the door was unlocked. All I needed to do was open the door and step out.
Are you able to step out of it for yourself? I can only wish one thing for all of my readers… that you live a meaningful life … not that of a prisoner.
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