I've got 99 problems, and don't want to get help for any of them because I'm not "weak"
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...anxiety Friday...it's a long one. Get a snack:
Dear Anita Mann,
I think you might actually be made of sunshine, and your eyes are the color of children's laughter.
Now, you've talked about anxiety a few times here, and I think it's great if you want to tell people your "problems", but I don't think anxiety is really a problem for me. I mean, yeah, sometimes I just get really angry, which seems to come out of nowhere, but there's nothing wrong with me, and I don't need "help". I just need to learn to control my emotions more. Right?
I love you more than bees love flowers,
Here's something I said to myself recently when I was chiding myself for feeling bad for going to counseling and talking to an anxiety coach, "Stop it, you big dummy. You would go to a personal trainer to get some Madonna arms. You go to the dentist preventatively to avoid cavities. You go to the doctor for a check up. And you get your oil changed (semi) regularly. Why wouldn't you talk to someone who is trained in helping you work out your brain?"
Look it...a struggle is a struggle. Being overwhelmed by an emotion is the worst. Replace "anxiety" with anger, sadness, lust, loneliness, or even happiness. It's not the emotion, it's "what we add into it". I've been an overly moody person my whole life because I didn't know that holding on so tightly to the emotional roller coaster was making it worse.
As the wisest person I know on this stuff (#kelliwalker) reminds me often, "emotion literally means 'in motion'". An emotion can pop up, because we're human, and if we leave it to its own devices, it'll be gone in a few seconds. It's all about what we add to the emotion, and what kind of story we tell ourselves.
Our minds have built habit trenches. Almost instantaneously, we can have a thought, then our body gets a signal, and releases a hormone. Here's an example, "I can't believe that guy cut me off!" Instantly, our brains are all, "yo. we clearly need to fight here." Our heart races and we get sweaty. Sometimes we don't even know we had the original thought. That's how habitual it is.
My anxiety, just so you know, often comes out often in 100% pure, uncut, Colombian bitchiness. For example: I flew last week. I hate flying. More than that, I hate flying with my family. Because, obviously, if we're all on the plane having a great time together, we'll crash. (Don't lie and tell me you haven't had those thoughts). Honestly just steer clear of me when I fly. I'm mean because I'm nervous. And embarrassed because when I'm nervous, I get superstitious. Then I get mad at myself that I'm nervous and superstitious, because are my nerves telling me something like an anxiety spidey-sense?? Then I get mad that no one can read my mind and know that I just want to cry for being so anxious about being anxious and overwhelmed. All in all, I end up a sweaty, hangry toddler that needs a very long nap.
I obviously added something to the simple emotion of nervous.
The Buddha talks about the second arrow. (I'm about to paraphrase this terribly...stay with me...) Essentially, the first arrow is the thing we can't control - the thought, the emotion...whatever. The second arrow, though, we can control: our reaction to the first arrow - the judgement, the condemnation...why do we add into the pain of the first arrow by shooting ourselves again? The second arrow of reactivity is optional.
Not into Buddha? No problem. The Gospels describe more than 20 emotions Jesus felt...and clearly, they weren't all about cherubs and golden harps. If Jesus felt a range of emotions, and said, "he who has seen me has seen the Father", wouldn't knowing God mean we should give ourselves permission to know ourselves for who we were created to be?
Hellllooooooooo....if we were given these emotions as part of the normal beautiful human spectrum, why is it not ok to get a helping hand in learning how to organize them in our brain? I think we all have this belief that by admitting that we don't like how gross trying to control our emotions feels is somehow wrong and weak.
The idea of being completely in control or insisting on knowing how things will evolve is just not real. It doesn't mean we have to be helpless or apathetic...of course we're engaged in what's going on! We can try to make change through the context of understanding how much we cannot control. But actual real change come from by shifting from wanting to control things, to a mode of connecting to what is actually happening, and making adjustments from there.
Long story short:
-"you are not your thoughts" (hashtag: Kelli Walker, again)
-the loop of emotions gets deeper and deeper entrenched the more we stay on the ride.
-don't be ashamed of talking to someone... even a friend to start. It's admirable to take charge of every aspect of your health.
Keep asking me questions. I love this crap.
All of the Xs and the Os,