My heart feels heavy, I want to cry, but I can’t. I can’t because I am afraid that if I do, I won’t stop, so I swallow deep that large lump in my throat. The lump travels past my anxious heart and, like a heavy rock, right into my belly, where I can feel the acid form and the stomach pain begin to build. Suddenly I am tired, and my legs start to tremble. I sit down, and I notice that I might be shaking everywhere. I think, but my thoughts are fuzzy, and somehow, I remember to breathe—breathe deep. Inhale, Exhale. The breath calms me just enough to talk to myself inside my head. I speak louder than all the other noise as I say…
“Focus on your breath Sheena. You got this.”
I used to get panic attacks when I was overwhelmed. I used to get angry to the point where I would throw fists well into my adult years. I can admit that I have been reactive to challenging life situations in many shameful ways. Ways that hurt my confidence, ways that hurt my relationships, and ways that hurt me. I had to crash land more times than I could count before fully embracing the path, which doesn’t count the times I fell again, wiped my knees off, and picked back up where I left off. The above example is when I started to learn to breathe. To recognize that I could manage those anxious moments. It was after a lot of work on my part: yoga, counseling, reading, hypnotherapy, self-love practices, personal development workshops, mentorships, and more.
But why? Why did all this happen to me? Why did my fears and worries create so much anxiety in me? Maybe it’s because I didn’t speak when I should have. Perhaps it's because I didn’t feel heard or validated somewhere.
It could be because I put too much on my plate, and the heaviness seemed unbearable.
Or it’s just because I was tired, hungry, imbalanced, on my period, fighting with a loved one, discovering my empathy, feeling alone, processing trauma, working too much, taking too many classes, out of money, being impatient, or whatever the f*** else we can come up with that resembles the stress that this life has to offer.
Today's writing is about how I learned to shift my mindset in these areas of anxiety. I intend that it might resonate with you in a way that gives you comfort and education surrounding shifting worry, anxiety, and the fears that feed them.
I am referring to reframing how we look at those stressors. In Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Upside of Stress, which I read during my course on resiliency in my healing arts program, she writes about stress being a valuable resource. Please reference this writing I did while reading the book (https://www.evolvedbeing.com/post/stress-as-an-ally). The research highlighted by Alia Crum in this podcast explains to us that stress can enhance our cognition and make us stronger, smarter, and happier.
So, it’s about shifting how we see the inevitable stressors in our lives. I am not sure I could have gotten out of the overwhelm I mentioned above. But what I know now is that I can handle it. I learn to take more and more every day. It’s because I grew out of experiences that used to cause anxiety in me. I tell myself different things.
My inner dialogue doesn’t control me; I own it.
Often, that anxiety that we experience is a stress response. It could have been conditioned into us, whether from information, past experiences, taught by our environments, attached to fears, or simply wanting to do a good job. It begins to feel uncontrollable when we experience it in a painful way time and time again. I am here to tell you that it can be acknowledged and shifted. I am not disregarding anxiety disorders or diagnoses related to anxiety. I am not a doctor, and I don't make claims about diagnoses. This is about awareness, education, and shifting core beliefs. It is about getting rid of the mindset 'that challenges and stressors have to rock us.' We can use our stress response to instill healthy habits and practices—empowering us to use adversity to our advantage.
When we learn to embrace the difficulties in our lives, we teach ourselves that we are capable.
Our brains respond by opening up to life instead of shutting down around it. Now, how does that sound? Can you get with me on this? What does life look like when we transmute anxious energy into a powerful resource?
This Stanford News article tells us "to view stress as an opportunity for growth." At SWIHA, we say look for the “Blesson,” the Blessing, in the lesson. It isn't an overnight endeavor, and it comes with practice. It probably doesn’t mean we won’t ever feel anxious or worried, but we will be conditioning our brains to stop seeing adversity as a threat. We will teach ourselves to embrace what is happening in front of us and look for ways to be practical, wise, integrative, and resilient while it’s running its’ course.
As always, if you are looking for some guidance, or just someone to be there to empower you during this process, I got you.
Book a Consult with me. This is what I do.
For The Love of Being,
Evolved Being Creatrix,
Check out Kelly McGonigal's work here http://kellymcgonigal.com/books
Another great article on embracing stress is https://medium.com/3-minutes/stress-as-an-ally-f43d6c089ef5
Podcast with Alia Crum https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/mindset-matters-how-embrace-benefits-stress