Fear is what causes so much of our bad behavior and our poor choices. And gratitude can’t live with fear in the same way that love can’t live with fear. – Tracey Jackson
Yesterday was an anxiety day for me. One of those days where I felt unsettled in my own skin. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to calm myself and the thoughts raging in my head: All your coworkers hate you! Your boss is mad at your for not doing the deposit first thing in the morning. You shouldn’t have scheduled that appointment how you did and now you’re going to get written up. You wrote the grant that everyone is giving someone else praise for, but you can’t say anything without sounding like a jerk, but of course no one believes it was you, because you’re useless.
I didn’t sleep last night, because I was too busy dwelling on every mistake I made, trying to plan how to rectify it in the morning before anyone got too mad. Hoping that I wouldn’t be too late. I couldn’t bring myself to calm down, to give myself some kindness, because I was too afraid that I would come in to harsh emails and angry messages from my coworkers.
Which was, of course, ridiculous. Why? Because I had done absolutely nothing wrong. My errors were arbitrary at most, but absolutely nothing to make anyone angry. My coworkers don’t hate me. The only reason I didn’t get credit for the grant I wrote was because I didn’t speak up and take it.
My anxiety held me back and denied me things I had a right to: Sleep. Relaxation. Credit for my hard work. Happiness.
And it’s hard, sometimes, to realize that. It’s difficult to recognize that anxiety is impractical and unrealistic. That it’s just fear of things that don’t matter, that won’t happen, that wouldn’t matter that much if they did happen.
So, for the next few weeks, I promise myself this: When I feel anxiety, I will ask myself five questions…
- What am I so stressed about?
- Why am I so stressed about it?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- What is most likely to happen?
- Is there anything I can do about it in this moment? (If there is, I can do it.)
Practicality beats out anxiety every time. Fear is a visceral reaction, but action, thought, and choice are intentional reactions. It’s my job to try to control as much of my fractured mental state as I can.
My diagnosed depression and suspected anxiety are not excuses to allow myself to deteriorate. I already deteriorate enough without using them as an excuse. I must transcend and be stronger than my diagnosis, than my illness. There’s no point in wallowing til I die.
My mind is a rose: Do I focus on the blossoms? Or do I impale my thoughts upon the thorns?