Anxiety is a sign post.
“I want to be more like a man,” I thought.
My friend playfully laughed at me as I shared this semi-serious sentiment.
I thought to myself that if I simply cared less, if I could be more stoic, more disconnected from the world around me, that I’d be better off.
I think for a great portion of my life, I’ve admired the people who seemed to have it all emotionally figured out.
The folks that can make it through an entire SPCA commercial with that horrific music by Sara McLachlan and these illness-ridden, 4 legged angels, dry-eyed… my heroes. The song is fine enough but when combined with the little puppies. #ohmyJesus
The people that in relationships, leave and seemingly never look back. How?
The individuals that seem immune to the world bustling around them or maybe it’s just that they’re numb. I don't get it.
My cousin said to me not too long ago, “Why do you act as if you don’t know what you’re doing? Or as if you’re lost? You’re not lost. Just slow the fuck down.”
I don’t know why; it just feels like that sometimes. It’s as if I were drowning or spinning frantically inside of a tornado.
Sometimes I wake up with anxiety. It’s rarer these days, but it happens.
Anxiety is probably up there as one of the worst feelings in the world.
Why you wonder?
If you’ve ever experienced acute anxiety, it can feel like the world is closing in on you. Worse than the anxiety itself is the fear that the current wave of feelings could be as intense as let’s say the last, really bad episode.
This adds to the stress.
But what’s telling for me, more than these bouts of anxiety themselves, is that it’s normally a product of me being deeply out of alignment with something or someone in my life.
For me, it normally means I’m not speaking up about something.
My role on this earth is to be a messenger. I help folks with their branding (messaging), I have a YouTube show to share life lessons in a funny way and pretty much everything I do is related to content (aka messages… duh!).
So as someone who is on this planet to express what moves through them, to have an acute sensitivity to the world around them, such that they can then communicate their learning for the betterment of others… to remain silent in the face of such divine offerings is a kiss of physical death for me.
When I was younger, I could withstand anxiety for long periods of time. I don’t even think I realized that what I was experiencing was maybe unhealthy or that I had other life choices.
Like, oh let’s say peace?
I just didn’t know better.
So this past weekend, when I was at my friend’s cabin, north of Montreal, Quebec, and I awoke to a feeling of unmistakable dread, this was the first indication something was up.
Or was it?
What about the days leading up to it?
Let’s go back a bit…
- I had 1–2 topics I was obsessing over. I kept playing them over and over in my mind and not landing on any sort of answer. I found relaxing particularly difficult and was not grounded in my body.
- I kept re-telling the same stories and looking at the same details over and over again. This both fed and was part of what felt obsessive.
- I felt a sense of discomfort in my body, almost as if I wanted to jump out of my skin, sleep and cry all at the same time. The common theme was wanting to escape from whatever I was feeling.
Eventually, this turned into anxiety. Maybe all of that could be considered some form of being anxious, but it was the feeling when I awoke, that tipped me off.
And it sat in my throat… in my chest… in my eyes.
I’ve realized as of late that many people seem to suffer from anxiety.
Many of my friends, colleagues and just the general public seems to wrangle with these feelings, much like myself.
4. Another key indicator was how hard I was on myself. There is a part of me that believes I should have this “solved” by now. I’ve done enough inner work, I’ve traveled all over the world, lived in spiritual communes and am an old soul. I should no longer fall into these episodes, or so my mind believes. I should be immune to extreme emotional states.
So when they begin to surface, before it’s full blown anxiety, I seem to attack myself, without even realizing it.
I become increasingly hard on myself for a) even experiencing the feelings to begin with and b) for not being able to make them go away… like right now.
But what I’ve realized is that the anxiety most often times isn’t the problem, but rather, a sign post.
It’s a big, bright North Star in our body, an alarm system of sorts, pointing the way to something that isn’t quite right.
For me, more than ever, if I don’t speak up or express myself, it rapidly leads to a state of discomfort and even physical illness.
As my friend put it this past weekend, “I am increasingly allergic to not feeling good in my body.”
Deeper still, was the realization that I was fighting myself in regards to on how I function, naturally.
The anxiety was a signal saying, “Hey, something isn’t right. You’re ignoring something. You’re probably not saying something that is really important to you. Go find it.”
But to find what the anxiety was pointing to, required me first to accept that a) it existed and b) was relevant.
Remember me saying that I wanted to be more like a man? Feel less?
The anxiety was because I was out of alignment with a few, key relationships in my life. I had set them up in ways that were the complete opposite of what serves me.
But I don’t like to and didn’t want to admit what I needed.
So I ignored them.
I acted like they weren’t real needs and created relationships that supported the fake needs. Maybe I figured I’d look cooler? #fail
I read books and tarot cards and looked to the advice of friend’s to try to learn how to be more like them and less like me.
But, I am me.
I’m fucking me and you’re you.
And we each work differently. What puts you in a peak state of positivity and productivity may not be what does it for me.
So there I sat, sitting on the phone with yet another friend, and she’s all like, “Lalita, what are you not saying?”
And somehow, in the midst of 1.5 hours of chatting, my truth came spewing out.
It was hidden at the center of the obsessive thoughts, like a knot that only got tighter from the over-thinking, mental self-battery and insistence I needed to be some other way.
The belief that being myself was what stood in the way of what I wanted and who I needed to be to get it.
When I finally came to terms with what I needed to say and do, I softened.
The anxiety went from an 8 to a 2.
My body felt safe again, like it was OK to be myself.
I often look to a certain friend I admire for advice and have tried to emulate some of how she is, mostly because she’s such a fantastic person and because she lives an amazing life.
But this time around, what I learned, is that she has her life down pat because she is the best version of herself. She plays to her strengths.
And our strengths and needs are different in some ways.
She’s aloof and mysterious. I’m emotional and very communicative. My life is online, for better or worse. She doesn’t even have a blog.
And yet, both means work. Both look and feel a bit different.
And both can be done very, very well.
But I didn’t get that, until yesterday.
You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. Everyone says this, but how many people believe it?
I hope you do.
And I hope that if and when you’re experiencing anxiety, rather than falling into the pit of fury and fear that you’ll never get out… take 5 steps back and realize it’s your body trying to tell you something.
What, exactly, could you be ignoring?
And where could you stand to forgive yourself a bit more, such that whatever is causing the anxiety, feels safe enough to surface?