How To Make Anxiety Work For You, Not Against You

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“Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.” 
~Jean Vanier

I got fired from my job, my boyfriend left me, and my father died in one day.

In reality, my career was going super well, I didn’t have a boyfriend, and my father was amazingly healthy, but what I did have was something I call an ultra amazing imagination, where I would make up fascinating stories about things that could happen and worry about them. (Or as other people call it, general anxiety disorder.)

I met my now BFF anxiety when I was about ten years old. Initially, she wasn’t that much of a drag, except for casually letting me know that I should dread going to school on Mondays because something terrible was going to happen.

I didn’t understand why she was telling me this.

Rationally I knew it wasn’t true. I loved school. But I couldn’t get her words out of my mind. I tried explaining what was happening to my sweet and caring father, but the only words I could get out were: “Dad, I feel bad, and I don’t know why.”

Anxiety took the liberty of moving into my room and accompanied me through my teenage years and twenties. She had black greasy hair that covered her face, and shrivelled, pale white skin that looked like it was starving for something. I just didn’t know what.

The more I ignored her, the more she dug her dirt-filled, jagged nails deep into my bare skin.

There was nothing I could do to escape her. I obviously couldn’t tell anyone. She assured me people wouldn’t understand.

Besides, I had grown used to the feeling of having knots in my stomach every day and the sleepless, nightmare-filled nights. If I didn’t have these experiences anymore, who would I be?

That’s until I turned thirty and had, well, as public speaker and shame researcher Brené Browncalls it, a spiritual awakening (a breakdown). I had reached breaking point and realized I couldn’t live the rest of my life like this.

There had to be another way.

I did all the typical things people do when they have a spiritual awakening.

I journaled profusely, saw a psychologist, joined an eight-week mindfulness-based meditation class for people with anxiety and depression (I took the class three times), and learned something called Psych K to change my subconscious beliefs about myself.

These things helped immensely. But what really changed the way I felt about anxiety was watching, wait for it, a teen, Hollywood, science fiction movie—Insurgent.

(Warning, spoiler alert). There’s a scene in the movie where the main female character, Tris, has to pass a variety of simulations to escape a futuristic prison she’s been captured in.

The particular simulation that changed my life shows twenty-something, short-haired Tris standing face to face with her beautiful clone, who’s embodied the anxious voices in her mind.

She sees the clone running at her full force, trying to physically kill her. (If you’ve ever had major anxiety, a lot of the time, that’s what it feels like.)

They duel it out, Matrix style, by flying around the room trying to attack each other, while smashing into thick glass windows.

Her clone violently shouts out all the things Tris tries to avoid hearing such as: no one will forgive you and no one loves you. (I might have added the love part in, but hey, it adds to my point).

 

Read the full article at Tiny Buddha

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