Whether I like it or not, my anxiety plays a huge role in my life. For a long time it had me under a microscope, inspecting my pitfalls, documenting my insecurities, and working hard to keep me in a suspended state of ‘panic’. I needed a change, and I’ve facilitated that by putting my anxiety under its own microscope.
Taking a deeper look at my anxieties has helped me fight against it. I’ve been able to wedge a divide between myself and my thought patterns. Allowing me to observe them for what they really are… Just thoughts.
I’ve abandoned the hunt for the perfect diagnosis. Not focusing on how to broadly ‘categorize’ my mental health, I’ve shifted that focus into analyzing it at an atomic, piece by piece level. This process has led to my latest experimental mindset – which I’ve coined with a catchy name – The 3 C’s of Overcoming Anxiety.
Channel Anxiety - Using Anxiety for Growth
Anxiety is a lot like water. Even still water actively craves movement. Anxiety knows once it gets enough freedom to move, the momentum can become unstoppable. When that momentum builds, that rushing water can sweep away most of its path, and seep itself into areas it was never meant to be in.
For me, I know it is impossible to simply raise my mind and soul above the figurative sea level. Each time I try to raise my city, I allow the water to continue rushing below and over time wears out my supporting structure. Instead, I need to use the water’s movement to my advantage. To build tools and pathways to safely channel that wealth of anxiety to a productive avenue.
Allowing the water the movement it craves, we can pull the water inland safely, and use it to run water wheels to power our most intensive work. We can channel our anxiety to help us when it is appropriate.
Challenge Anxiety - Putting Ourselves in Undesirable Situations
To understand my anxieties better, I need to consistently challenge it. This means dropping myself into situations that I know will make me anxious. Nothing major, or life altering, but just enough to be uncomfortable for my typical self.
This practice allows me to utilize another tool I’ve learned recently. Transferring my anxiety to excitement. Anxiety and excitement share a lot of neurological similarities, but something in our conditioning gets to be the deciding factor on which side of the fence we sit on.
I heard it explained in terms of a rollercoaster. Two people could be sat on a rollercoaster beside each other, sharing an identical physical experience. One of them is screaming at the top of their lungs because this is the most fun they have had all day. The other, could be screaming at the top of their lungs because their mind is in a state of panic. Anxiety instead of excitement. The deciding factor of what shapes the reaction is our conditioning. If you are anything like me, you are conditioned by your anxiety and the fear it convinces you to adopt.
It is recommended to audibly tell yourself “I’m excited.” when you feel anxiety swell. I’ve taken that advice to heart, and draw on it every time I feel anxiety trying to pull me back. This kind of conditioning training has helped give me the confidence to dive into my creativity deeper than ever before.
I was anxious every time I would post something I made. Articles, Blog Posts, Poems, and Oh God I was anxious every time I posted The Better Me Project. Yet, I’ve continually challenged that swell of feeling and keep posting my content. As a result, my content is getting better every time I post. Being so afraid to post something bad, was keeping me from learning how to post anything good.
Charge - Building the Confidence to Grow
By doing something repeatedly, even when it can be anxiety inducing, build the confidence needed to grow in our lives. If I didn’t charge ahead with my content, I wouldn’t be creating things on a regular basis. If I didn’t charge ahead and throw myself into anxiety every day, I wouldn’t have the job I have today.
Granted, there are plenty of times when we have to charge ahead in the face of anxiety. The practice of turning anxiety into excitement accompanied with a regiment of anxiety training, I have grown a stronger threshold for the swells of emotion.
I have always been in the ‘high-functioning’ bracket of mental health. My mental health held me back in social settings, causing me to draw back and focus internally – usually on school work. I worked my way through my mental health and formed an unrealistic pattern of over-achievement while under-valuing myself. I’ve been able to switch this to become a high functioning person, who is in tune with their own worth and contributions.
Thanks to these 3 C’s, I can charge ahead in my life with a stronger sense of self, and a focus on growth and goal setting.