Hi everyone and welcome to 2012, I hope everyone had a good Christmas
As stated I have been very busy with another project , it is now just about completed and I will reveal all that in my next post. But it has been the reason I have hardly been around, it took a lot longer than I expected and a lot more work. I am also looking for more success stories for this project. I tend to get emails or posts of thanks on here when people recover, but rarely a more detailed story of their recovery. If you wish to forward any on to me then just email me your story and I will tell you exactly what it is for, before publishing it.
I am going to put up 8 posts this year and I have a clear view of each one. 2012 is the year I hope to really get certain things across and this comes through what people post on here and continually struggle with.
Right on to today’s post which is called 2 roads and the choices we can make
When we suffer from anxiety, we can hit a fork in the road and make 2 choices, one sign points us to a safe, but lonely road, a road that leads nowhere. The other points to a road that is full of life and choices, the road looks more daunting, but leads to a fulfulling place.
I once saw a documentary on a soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan and when he came back to England his mother said he had given up on life, that he just stayed locked in his room, locked in his own head and became very depressed with plenty of ‘Why me’? He had decided to give in to his disability and taken to hiding away feeling sorry for himself. This was until someone came and spoke to him and said ‘You can have a very fulfilling life with the way you are, you just have to make the choice to live again, how will you know if you don’t try?’ From that day on, this solider was determined to give life a go and stop hiding away feeling sorry for himself. He made a choice to forget his disability and went out socialising, finding local clubs he could get involved in. This person then went on to represent his country in a particular sport and made so many new friends, going on to life a life that he started to really enjoy.
I am telling this story, because this person had a choice, he also met a fork in the road and took the safe one at first, to hiding away feeling sorry for himself, the road I took many years ago. Well I was sick of this road and I decided one day to stop wishing it all away, anxiety was just the way I felt, there was nothing I could do about that, I had to accept that it was part of me for now. The outside world had not changed and anxiety or not I was going to be part of it once again.
We can choose a road of avoidance, one of trying to control our anxiety, thinking this temporary relief will help us long term. But it never does and leads to a very restricting life, one were we make excuses not to go here, not to do this and that. We are giving in to the way we feel and letting it control us and what we do, this is the wrong road and leads to more feelings of hopelessness and disconnection with the outside world. You also begin to make deals with your anxiety, ‘I won’t go here if you leave me alone’, ‘I will avoid this place if you don’t come today’.
By human nature we try and find relief, normally it is the right thing to do, but with anxiety it is the opposite, because in trying to find relief your life becomes narrower and narrower, you begin to feel more and more sorry for yourself, as you hate that you can’t go here or there. You can also start to go over and over things in your head, either by trying to fix your anxiety or trying to find another way out.
One day you must realise this safe road is not working, it is leading you nowhere, it is just restricting your life more and more, it is not reliving you of anything and certainly not helping the problem.
Let’s go to the other road, the one without safety behaviours, without control and avoidance. This is the road I finally decided to take and anxiety would have to come with me, it no longer had a choice, there were no more deals to be made, no more excuses, if it wanted to be part of my life for now, then so be it, but it had lost it’s hold over me.
At first going out and about and not trying to avoid my feelings was hard and I felt disconnected for a while, but I no longer cared, it was caring so much that got me into the hole in the first place! If I let anxiety into my life without question, then what is there left to fight? What is there left to go over?, What is there left to avoid?, What is there left to control?
The mistake people make is that they are always trying to feel better, this has the opposite effect, as you will never be free of what you refuse to feel. I may post something and people may then use my words as a mantra, say it is ‘Truly accept the way you feel’ they may then repeat this in an attempt to make themselves feel better. There is the mistake, they again are trying to control their anxiety with a saying, trying not to feel it, they have missed the point entirely.
When I took the choice of the other road, I expected to still feel anxious, I expected to still feel disconnected, more in fact, as I was going out of my comfort zones. I held no expectations to how I would feel, my only goal was to live a fulfilling life again, how I felt was secondary and certainly not something I would be trying to control anymore, I had tried this for years and it did not work.
In time this second road lead me to a far better place, to a more fulfilling life, places and experiences I had avoided in the past opened their doors and let me in, my life grew and grew, feelings and insecurities dampened in time. The other road had the opposite effect, life became narrower and narrower, I felt more and more isolated, my whole day seemed a battle of avoidance and control, no wonder I never got anywhere. But I loved this new road, it was not as safe as the other road and had a few bumps in it, but it was full of victories and suprises, I felt good about me again, in control.
I was actually always in control, I just never realised it. I had just had to let go of all my uncertainty and insecurities and embrace life again. Life was my salvation, it was my cure, it was not something to avoid and hide away from.
To finish, just remember you are not your anxiety, you are not your thoughts, so don’t feel the need to control. Many people who progress and those that recovered tell you that eventually they just became on observer of the way they felt, they shifted their focus elsewhere and it did not seem as important as it did before, it was just something in the background. This is because when they accepted it as part of them through understanding, they could then begin to focus on other things in their life. They had stopped spending hours inside their head trying to constantly fix things, constantly finding ways to control or rid themselves of the way they felt. Until you truly let anxiety in without question and stop making deals with it, then the same fruitless battle will continue. Nobody has ever fought or thought their way out of anxiety, it is like quicksand, the harder you fight to free yourself, the further you sink.
I hope that post helps. My next post will address how to get out of your mind and free yourself from over thinking.