Fear, overwhelm and feeling anxious are some of the most common emotions my clients list as causing them to feel stuck, unhappy, unable to change their lives.
Anxiousness is an emotion that I have learnt to look at with compassion, kindness and the firmness of a strict parent.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
For a very long time the anxiety that I felt, pretty much every day of my life, was something I ran from
I pushed it away with food, alcohol, partying, dieting, exercising, working, running miles and miles every day. I was not just mentally running from it, I was physically too.
I numbed out.
I did everything I could to avoid feeling it.
Not surprisingly, this approach didn’t work out all that well.
I found myself exhausted, overwhelmed, in a cycle of control, obsessive dieting and exercising, overworking, over drinking, over exercising. Basically ‘overing’ my life away.
I found myself feeling stuck in a life on repeat, of every day being about work, exercise, glass of wine, little sleep, repeat. I had spent a decade building my legal career, I had everything that is meant to make you happy and fulfilled, yet I was not clear on what the point of it all was. I didn’t feel fully alive and engaged, I was rushed, exhausted and uninspired.
Don’t get me wrong. There were moments of pleasure and fun, but most of it was pretend. The bottle of wine on a Friday night felt good at the time, but overall it was causing me more pain.
My mind and body were exhausted.
I was running from my uncomfortable emotions.
Hoping they would eventually go away.
Avoiding them by checking out.
Then over a period of time I realised.
Those negative emotions were never going away.
I could run from them, into a bottle of wine, my career, mindless TV, over shopping and exercising, and continue to feel unfulfilled, going through the motions, dusty and tired.
Or there was an alternative.
I could turn around.
Take a good long look at my life.
Be willing to feel uncomfortable.
And, finally, be honest with myself about what it is I wanted.
I had been unconsciously using this feeling of anxiousness as a reason to hide.
As a reason to not pursue my dreams.
As a reason to quit when it got hard.
I realised that if I kept waiting for it to go away my headstone would read ‘died waiting for the fear to go away!’
Are you waiting for the fear to go away?
Because we picked the wrong universe if we expect life to be all sunshine and unicorns all of the time!
Here is what I learnt, when I stopped running from myself, when I turned around and took a good look at the beautiful mess.
– I can handle negative emotions like overwhelm, stress and fear. I don’t need to numb out and avoid them.
– Numbing out with dieting, exercising, drinking and overworking in a job that no longer aligned with what I wanted for my life was causing me even more discomfort than the anxiousness!
– I am not my mind.
– I can decide how I think, feel and act, every day, every moment. My circumstances do not dictate this.
– I realised that I was never going to feel 100% confident in anything unless I was first willing to fail.
– I found the courage to feel anxious and do it anyway.
We all know that person who has been talking about changing careers for years, or losing weight, or leaving a relationship…but nothing ever changes. The same ‘problems’ on repeat.
We can all choose this.
To stay in a good job that we don’t love and live for the weekends.
To choose overwhelm and busyness, forever rushed and exhausted.
To keep overworking, over drinking, over procrastinating, overing our days away avoiding the fact we are uncomfortable where we are.
Same problems, old problems, year in year out.
We can choose new problems.
Who the hell am I?
What do I really want?
Who do I want to grow into?
Where am I going?
How am I going to get there?
We can decide between the pain of being stuck or the pain of growing!
The discomfort of a life on repeat or the discomfort of a life of new challenges.
So many of us use fear and anxiety as an excuse to quit, or to not even begin.
As a reason not to pursue our dreams.
To not do the work.
To hide in the cave.
Where in your life are you running?
Where are you not willing to look?
Perhaps it is in your relationship or marriage?
In your role as a parent?
Your friendship group or network?
In your relationship with yourself and your body?
In how you turn to food, alcohol, Netflix, shopping, exercise, work to avoid, to numb out from your life?
Tired? Bored? Disconnected? Half alive?
What would your life look like if you stopped running from yourself?
If you turned around?
Took a good look?
And were willing to feel uncomfortable?
You can do hard things.
You can choose new problems.
Ones that will move you forward.
Toward the person you want to be.
Toward being the best possible version of yourself.
You can choose today to turn up as your best self in your marriage, relationships, career, community.
Hard things are part of the deal of being human.
Hard things, when you choose them consciously, lay the path to your dreams.
We all have a choice, we make it every single day.
We either choose:
The same problems, a life on repeat, where every day is the same.
Or a life of new problems, ones we want to have, ones that move us toward growth, toward who we want to be, to freedom.
I promise you, choosing the problems you want to have, choosing the fear and anxiousness that comes with growth, with stretching yourself toward the person you want to be, is the most fulfilling, exciting, joyful thing you can do for yourself.