For the past three years or so, I’ve struggled with crippling anxiety. If I really think about it, it goes back long before that but I didn’t understand it or know how to deal with it.
At the advice of my wife, I spoke to my family doctor and they suggested that I enroll in a group therapy program. She didn’t think that meds were the immediate answer.
8 weeks later, I had concluded the program and though I learned a lot about breathing, healthy eating, and exercise, I wasn’t any better off.
My anxiety kept on coming and it came on strong every single day.
I’ll leave all the details in between for another story but one of the things that have come out of my various one-on-one therapy sessions and prescription refills that would follow was the importance of meditation.
In a meditation session this morning, I heard something that caused me to think differently about my anxiety. It was a revelation. For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen my anxiety as a bad thing.
The facilitator encouraged me to look for the good that my anxiety could be trying to bring to me. We know that everyone on the planet experiences anxiety in different ways but for the first time, I was able to see my anxiety as a helper.
What if my anxiety was coming on to remind me to slow down?
What if it was telling me that I’m feeling overwhelmed and that I need to take a break?
We know that at the root of anxiety, the heightened blood pressure, fast breathing, and increased heart rate derive from the “fight or flight” responses that we’re all born with.
What if my anxiety is simply trying to protect me from myself?
Rather than seeing anxiety as the enemy and trying to constantly push it away, I should be welcoming it and seeing it as a sign that it’s time to change what I’m doing.
Is it easy? No.
Do I always listen? No.
Am I trying? Absolutely, yes. And though every day is a struggle, I’m working on listening to the warning signs that my body is putting out and leaning into them instead of always running away.
Will I ever outrun it? Who knows. What I’m realizing though is that, that’s not the point.
My job is to listen and respond accordingly—prioritizing my well-being above everything else.
What is your anxiety telling you?