ready to start tackling my demons

I don’t know what it is about today, but I feel stronger. More powerful. And ready to take on the world. Or at least, some of the things that I struggle with in life.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had a run of bad days, and then finally today I started to get things done. And I want to keep doing that. Or maybe this is just a spot of complete luck that I feel like this. I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to kick my issues with anxiety to the curb.

I don’t want to feel like I’m being held back by my fear of failure or embarassment any longer. I’m sick of it defining me, controlling me, imprisoning me. There have been so many situations where I’ve felt it insidiously seeping in, and preventing me from doing things I’d love to do. Like maintain a conversation beyond whatever the initial input from the other person. Or  even attend that class I’ve had trouble with ever since the tutor said he expected more input from me each week.

Until last year, I didn’t even know that the terror I was feeling was even classed as an abnormality. I thought everyone felt nervous to this extent over simple things, and that they were just better at handling or hiding it. But then I was told that no, I was actually suffering a mental disorder and that it could be overcome. Ever since receiving that news, I have noticed the constant presence of fear in my life. Noticed it, but not been able to overcome it.

Every time I’ve tried to fix the things that have gone wrong in my life, other aspects have been the focus. Well, now I’m making anxiety the focus, and the reign of tyranny has to end.

I’m going to seek proper help, but until I get around to that, I’m going to stick to past materials I have about it and the assistance of the internet. So far, I’ve found the tips on two websites to sound reasonable and achievable, so I’ll start with those (as well as practising mindfulness and meditation, two things which I’ve done to help before but haven’t kept up). I will probably also get back into reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, which I go halfway through before taking an extended break.

I am going to try to:

  • Challenge negative thoughts where it is reasonable, and try to focus on what I want to happen, instead of what I don’t want to happen (for example, instead of worrying about how I really don’t want to my mind to go blank, I’m going to think about how I would like to know about a person’s job)
  • Where this isn’t possible, just let the thoughts come and go, without buying into what they are saying. This can easily be done by placing them on leaves in a stream or on clouds, and watching them float by, thus putting a distance between what they’re saying and what I’m actually focusing on
  • Recognise and label unhelpful thinking patterns, so that I can see when I’m heading into trouble. No more catastophising, attempts at fortune telling or mind reading.
  • Keep in mind that people’s actions are more related to them and the mess in their heads, than in what I’m doing or not doing
  • Grounding myself when I’m getting overwhelmed
  • Look around me, instead of focusing internally during anxiety-provoking situations. I will actually pay attention to small details, instead of just staring off into space.
  • Fake it til I make it. It actually helps, when you put enough effort in.
  • Face my fears. Slowly, I will put myself in social situations and work my way up to those things I find truly terrifying (being the centre of attention by making speeches, holding social events).
  • Try to do what I want, instead of what I think others want. I’d love for it to all be as simple as saying that I don’t care what others think, but that seems an impossible goal since identity is, in a way, an outward concept, and dependent on how others see you. While you see yourself one way, the opinion of the masses is likely to drown that out, and your identity becomes formed by the general consensus.

There are probably more techniques I can try, but for now, these should help.

Starting today, I am composed of fight, not fear.

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