It has been a small while since I last checked in with you all. Let's just say that I have been going through a bit of a mental/emotional/spiritual growth spurt. I figured I'd share it with y'all. Why not? Sharing is caring. So, please prepare yourself for some over-caring.
For those of you who suffer from anxiety, you may be able to relate to the title I have given this blog post. But considering these situations can vary from person to person, maybe you won't. For those of you who have never been gripped by the sudden and cataclysmic sensation of your entire world being utterly focaccia'd in the dot and it is all your fault... well, then. This may just be an interesting read for you.
DISCLAIMER: Let's make one thing plain, here. I am NOT a doctor. I do not claim to have any expert knowledge on this subject, accept the fact that I am well-versed in panic-attacks, hyperventilation, extreme negative thoughts, and many other symptoms that go along with anxiety. I am not offering a cure-all, merely insight to a recent experience of mine and how I overcame it.
Right. Now we have that out the way.
I feel varying levels of anxiety. There's the worry stage, which can often be satiated by getting off my arse and making life happen for me. (What a go-getter, huh?) If this doesn't happen, it is escalated to over-thinking. This is a dangerous stage. This one can very quickly amp up to the crippling my life is never going to change and it's all my fault stage. For me, this is when the magic happens. Looking back on that moment, when I am calm, cool and super-amazing-awesome Nicky, is easy. But living in that moment is a whole different kettle of ball games. When that feeling of being punched in the guts hits, and I lose the ability to breathe, that little slice of life is the hardest morsel to digest. But rather than letting it completely devour me, I have found a way to kick-start the regulator and begin consuming oxygen again like a boss!
The latest moments of pure pleasure I encountered (for those a little slow on the uptake, I am being sarcastic) happened while I was at work. Now, when one works in a busy café, this isn't the best place to lose one's shit. I got myself caught in the over-thinking stage, when I was struck with a stupid thought. You know the ones. They are small and spiteful, but they are ultimately not worth your time.
Step 1: When faced with a stupid thought, simply ask, "Is that true?"
More often than not, it isn't true. If your first response happens to be "yes," however, ask the question again and be truly honest. It isn't true. Those thoughts never are. That's why they are stupid.
Dismissing that first stupid thought rapidly gave rise the to face-slap thought. These are interesting little guys. They are sudden and shocking. But these are the ones that do the most damage because they hit home so hard, they tear the stadium apart. Even through my restricted breathing and verging on tears, I referred to Step 1. Although, I felt like I was in denial and this situation truly was all my fault, I put it aside and got on with my job. This is Step 1.2, I guess. Do what you have to in order to get through the day (or the next hour, or half an hour or thirty seconds). It's a band-aid. It isn't going to help long-term, but it will get me through the next couple of hours until I can be alone to deal with that land mine I just uncovered. Sheesh!
Once getting home, and giving myself space to breathe and think, I proceeded onwards.
Step 2: Check-in with the face-slap
The thought I had was blaming myself for the kind of people I attract. This, too, seems stupid. But, as I considered my own history, it resonated pretty hard at the time. So, addressing Step 2 meant that I gave myself time to see if I truly, madly deeply believed this. Yeah. I really did.
Queue Step 3!
Step 3: Dismantle the dark (Twelve Foot Ninja, 2012) (how's that for in-text referencing? BOOM, baby!)
This part was really tricky and, although I will be making it sound easy-peasy-testie-squeezy, I assure you... It was that painful... I assume... Okay. I began by thinking of the hateful statement I made to myself and, very quickly, found evidence to support it. Then I started checking in with the emotion that this conjured and began to articulate it. I felt like I had failed myself. That I couldn't be trusted to make decisions for myself. And that, because I believe the Universe responds to our intentions, it was my fault that this keeps happening. Queue the shattering of my own heart.
After wallowing in my own self-pity for a while, I continued to deconstruct this horrific idea I created. I wrote a list of things I wanted for myself. Things I would like in order to make myself a stronger, healthier and more vibrant spark of life. This is a piece of my list:
See what a difference it can make? I committed this mantra to memory the night I wrote it. I woke up in the morning reciting it. I even said it aloud to myself all the way to work that day. These words remind me that I am strong, I can be trusted and I am truly giving. Which actually means I don't need to lose myself in any of it. My purpose is to bring light to those who need it, I know this. And in order to do that, I need to ignite it within myself. So, whenever I have moments of doubt, I check in with my list to see which line it relates to and I immediately find solace in the words. You will be astonished at how much this covers! It hasn't let me down. I haven't let me down. And I will never again.
Like I said, I make this seem super-fantastic-easy-fun-time. But I know what it's like to feel hopeless, helpless and completely alone. I know the comfort in that, too. It is so unbelievably hard to think of positive things at that time. But if you can ask yourself, "Do I want to feel like this forever?" and you find the answer is "no," well, then! Please find a small space in your heart for yourself. What kind of person do you want to be? What qualities do you want to reflect?
Even if you don't suffer from any mental/emotional hic-ups, this exercise might be a bit of fun for you! We can all benefit from checking-in with ourselves to see if we are functioning at our optimum capacity.
Be the reason to make someone smile. Especially if that someone is you.
Twelve Foot Ninja 2012, 'Myth of Progress,' Silent Machine, Volkanik Music, Sydney.