This is the first post in a five-part series called ‘inside my anxious mind’, within which I am exploring my experience with different aspects of anxiety. It is my aim to discover a new perspective from which to view this behaviour. This first post will look at contrast – the space between what I want and what I fear, and the impulses that work to drive me away from the things that I want the most.
I want it, but I’m scared of it …
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be seen. I want people to notice the real me, and I want to show them who I am – but when they look in my direction, I cower and hide, hoping with all that I have that they didn’t notice.
I dream and dream about being heard. I imagine the joy of my words making an impact in the lives of others, and I long to share my thoughts with ease – but when people really listen, my voice grows quiet and I stumble upon my words. Sometimes I cannot talk at all.
Nothing scares me more than being seen for who I am – but at the same time, there is nothing more exciting or desirable. It is all that I have ever wanted, and all that I work to prevent.
My mind is a swirl of contradictory longings: To want, and to not-want, to have and to not-have. As much as I want something, I also fear its presence in my life. I often sabotage my attempts to thrive so I can have an excuse for being less than the person I have always longed to be.
A lot of things in life don’t seem to make any sense. Approaching life logically might work for some, but adopting a logical stand-point does not work with everything – particularly when emotions and anxiety are involved.
In my opinion, anxiety is a bit like an over-ride button – an aspect of ourselves that is charged with the responsibility of keeping us safe.
We all have a different set-point for anxiety, but we all have it. Some people feel anxious only when their lives are in grave danger. Others of us feel it when we have to walk out of our own front door. This does not make us wrong or crazy, we simply are more sensitive than most …
When I consider the idea of my contradictory longings, I realise that they are both coming from different aspects of me. On the one hand, I have my hopes and dreams. I have my life as it would look without fear and anxiety – a life which flows with open communication and the incredible freedom that comes from being exactly as I am.
On the other side is anxiety. Here, my life fears judgment and ridicule for what I might reveal if I were free and open, the way I dream of being. Anxious thoughts are illogical, but incredibly convincing. They hold me back with the soul intention of keeping me safe – and in doing so, they appear to deny me the opportunity of experiencing those things that I wish for the most.
The tricky part of living between the contradictions of heart and anxious mind is acknowledging the role that both to these aspects have to play.
Through connecting with my heart’s desires I learn what I want to experience, where I want to go, how I want to live. Anxiety, on the other hand, gives me constant feedback – and actively searches out potential threats. If I believed everything my anxious mind told me, I would be a quivering wreck and I would never achieve anything. If I cast my anxiety aside, I would miss out on the experience of contrast that makes life’s achievements feel so great.
Anxiety can appear to create difficulties in life, but what if we were to view this as instead adding a depth and meaning to life’s challenges. What if anxiety is there to add more substance to our life experience? A depth of connection and feeling that adds beauty to all that we do?
Treading that delicate balance between the two main driving forces of my life is the way that I ensure my life moves forward in the direction of my dreams, without compromising the depth of experience that anxiety offers me.
It is very easy to veer off in one direction, but if I do not acknowledge my anxiety I usually find that arrogance puts me in my place and reminds me of the importance of listening to life’s subtleties. If, on the other hand, I allow myself to become engulfed inside of fears and insecurities, I find myself padding the walls of despair. Inevitably, at some point I will experience a surge of longing and this will lead me back to the place of my dreams.
I think of it as something similar to walking a tightrope … this element of my anxious mind is a journey of subtlety and balance. The contrast that it offers helps me to develop my hopes and dreams, and their subsequent achievements beyond anything I could imagine without it.
I love being able to write; to dissect and explore elements of my inherent nature. I love finding out that a trait of mine that I had always pushed away and longed to live without actually has much to offer and the ability to enrich my life experience. I hope this helps you too in embracing the goodness that resides within your least favourite aspects. If anxiety is holding you back, maybe you need to pause for a moment and wonder what extra qualities it brings to your life. It may take time to find them, but I truly believe that there is a purpose and a gift in everything.