Let’s talk about anxiety.
(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)
It’s a topic I am intimately familiar with. Something I was born with actually.
So, for me people are dangerous. And more than that, my brain interpreted each of them as a possible threat.
And that was the lens through which I saw the world.
Fear was what guided my actions, my decision.
I never believed that everyone was inherently bad, but I did know that at any time one of them could get upset or get too curious about me, or get too intimate, or even get confrontational.
And those type of things would spark an anxiety attack for me, a literal fight or flight response. And because I genuinely like people, I didn’t want to fight them.
So my only option was to flee in terror.
I lost count of how many times I cried silently in the bathroom at whatever job I had, and how many opportunities I passed up because of that ever-present fear.
It was crippling.
Now people with my level of anxiety, they do need additional help in managing the chemistry of the brain, but people like me also have a very good idea of how to confront anxiety and fear and so today I’m going to share some of my strategies to deal with common problems that spark anxiety.
First and foremost, I understand that anxiety is going to happen, even to “normal” people.
It’s a natural response of our body to help keep us safe, but sometimes our brains can be a little stupid, especially where our pride is involved.
So the first question I always ask is why am I afraid?
And very often it’s because I’m afraid not of the thing that I want to do, but of doing it and failing and feeling embarrassed. Having my pride wounded.
So what I’m actually afraid of is a feeling, not a thing.
So doing this podcast I’m afraid that admitting my weaknesses will make you think less of me.
And again I’m afraid of a feeling and it’s silly because I know that The Smarter Artist community is incredibly supportive of each other and this is who I’m doing it for.
So anyone else who hears it and makes fun, it doesn’t really matter. They don’t matter in my sphere, in my world.
So I have to ask myself why am I putting my pride, my ego on a pedestal? What’s it really worth when it’s causing me to lead such a fearful life.
And second, why am I missing out on the opportunity to learn through experience, which truly is the best teacher?
Because if I learn and grow this time, next time will be even better.
If I fall short now and fix it, I can be more confident next time.
The next strategy I use is to entirely reframe the situation.
I realize that I’m almost constantly in threat assessment mode, and this makes me focus on the negatives of what could happen.
That way I can make a plan and deal with them before it happens.
You want to know how often that actually works?
Not often enough to justify the energy I put into it.
So when I’m feeling anxious about something, I have to reprogram my brain which has spent over half its existence in fight or flight mode. And I have to teach it to look at the positives.
So instead of saying oh, my God, what if the worst possible thing happens, what will I do, and there’s usually no good answer and that’s what paralyzes me from decisive action.
So instead of focusing on the worst, I take a lesson from Sean, and I think about the good things that could happen.
I work on reframing my anxiety into excitement.
And that’s a powerful thing, turning your anxiety into excitement.
It does take effort to maintain, but one of the best things you can do is to be really aware of how you’re feeling. And when you feel that fear creep in, just acknowledge it. Make yourself think of the best things that could happen.
You’re replacing a negative thought with a positive thought.
The final strategy I’m going to share is this, it was something that was shared with me, someone told me this about myself and it really changed how I viewed myself.
If you deal with anxiety on a daily basis, and you do even half of what you want to despite that constant fear, it is a sheer act of courage on your part.If you do even half of what you want despite constant fear, it's a sheer act of courage. https://sterlingandstone.net/dealing-with-anxiety/ Click To Tweet
You are courageous, whether you know it or not.
And those people you chose to have in your life are the people who are going to recognize that. Who will help support and help you grow.
So when you feel anxiety, make sure you’ve checked your pride at the door, surround yourself with the right people and remember, you’re kind of a super hero.
You might not have laser eyes, but your super power is courage.
Courage doesn’t try to deny the existence of fear. It doesn’t try to shove aside what are very real feelings.
It acknowledges them and it forges ahead anyway.
So courage led me to click publish on this podcast, and that was a tiny simple thing, but it was an act of courage.
So what one simple thing can you do today to be courageous?