My anxiety has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. For so long, I hated it, every little thing about it. I hated the way it debilitated me, and that it stopped me from living the life I wanted to live. I blamed it for all of my sorrow and my pain.
I felt trapped in my own body by it like I couldn’t escape it. My anxiety was in constant power; it ruled over me always. It would creep its ugly head in every thought I’d think, every word I’d speak, and every move I’d make. And it would judge me, make me feel worthless. I felt like I had no identity of my own because my anxiety defined me.
And then something funny happened…I befriended it.
A few years ago, I was in a deep state of burnout.
I had hit rock bottom when it came to my mental and physical well-being. And you know what they say about hitting rock bottom, right? The only way to go is up. This level of low forced me to change. I decided I was no longer going to be the victim. Instead, I was going to be the driver of my own destiny.
And so, my recovery and lifelong journey of self-acceptance began.
Through this journey, I developed healthier ways of thinking and, dare I say it, even started to love myself a little bit. Well, love myself enough to start protecting my well-being. I eventually learned to embrace my anxiety instead of fear it – I started to work with it, instead of against it.
By embracing it, I took away its power to hurt me.
It no longer defined me. Instead of barging in, it started to knock on the door, and I got to choose whether to open it or not. My response to it began to change.
READ MORE: Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist discusses how Anxiety Isn’t the Problem — Your Response Is, on psychologytoday.com.
Don’t get me wrong, it still comes around, but it’s not as scary as it once was. These days, when it creeps back, I take it in stride. I stay in control, and I find reasons to embrace it. I feel empowered now, and this has made all the difference. By harnessing my emotions in a positive way, I can better understand and even come to appreciate a few things from my anxiety.
Here are the things I’ve come to embrace once I learned to befriend my anxiety:
I have empathy for others
My anxious thoughts often include worrying about the well-being of others – my family members, my clients, my friends. If I stripped away the worrying though, I realized that at the core of this was empathy. And I can embrace that.
I am perceptive
My anxiety taught me to notice things that perhaps others did not. For instance, I’ve become more aware of my body and how it reacts when I get tense – my racing heart, my sweaty palms, my shortness of breath. Because I’ve become an expert at recognizing these in myself, I’ve also become better at recognizing these in others.
Being perceptive helps me to understand others on a deeper level, which all helps me to be a more compassionate family member and friend, and better at my job.
I am always prepared
Worrying that I may fail at an upcoming task or event often resulted in fear, overthinking and over-preparing. I would think about every way that something could go wrong, and I would plan for each of those disasters. But, each time I made it through one of these challenges, I started to see that although failure is terrifying, it WILL NOT kill me.
I started to embrace this worry as helping me to prepare for the task at hand, rather than having it hold me back. Feeling prepared and planning for the future are the positive takeaways I’ve come to appreciate.
I am stronger
Anxiety can make every day and everything a significant challenge. When anxiety is debilitating, getting on the bus for your morning commute, for instance, can feel like an impossible task. Because we’re being faced with these challenges daily, and getting through them, it builds strength. I embrace the strength I have gained through my anxiety.
Let’s all take a second to channel our inner Kelly Clarkson right now and shout it out loud. You with me? “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Woohoo!
My life of anxiety has consisted of many setbacks and countless challenges. But, I have survived each one, and I’m still here. Each time I fell, I got back up. And I will continue to do so. I will not give up. I’ve learned to embrace my perseverance.
I am self-aware
My anxiety, at its worse, made me my worst critic. My irrational negative thinking made me believe that I was worthless and stupid, and every other insult under the sun. However, with healthier thinking patterns, I’m now able to embrace my ability to be self-aware and can recognize the legitimate ways that I can improve.
Because I’ve grown to love myself, I’ve turned this once ruthless critic into a source of self-awareness with the ability to recognize opportunities for personal growth.
Read more: 10 WAYS TO CALM ANXIETY AT NIGHT
I am excited and energetic about life
Anxiety can make me tense and hyper, but taken in a positive light, I’m able to channel this tension into energy and excitement. For instance, worrying about a job interview becomes less debilitating when I’m able to turn the worry into excitement for the opportunity of getting my dream job.
Embracing the energy I gain from anxiety helps me deal with it in a healthier way.
Learning to embrace your anxiety can help you lead a life of greater peace.
It’s essential also to realize that doing this is no easy feat – it will take time, patience, and self-love. Befriending my anxiety, and building healthier ways to deal with it, helped me embrace many aspects of it. This shift in thinking has been life-changing for me.
The next time you feel your anxiety taking over, try befriending it, you just might like what you find.
Make a list of all the ways anxiety makes you stronger. And, along the way, don’t forget to fill your thoughts with positive self-talk, and to reward yourself for each and every obstacle you get through. Until next time, my beautiful and courageous friends <3
How have you embraced your anxiety? Let me know below!
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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a health-care professional.