I found myself feeling like a pressure cooker on the inside….
….just reaching the threshold of whistling out loud for all to hear. We were running significantly behind schedule on an early Tuesday morning, I had been trying to tame a wild little creature for the better part of 2 hours since she decided to wake up uncharacteristically early. I had told myself I would be up early to do some yoga, but our little had a different agenda.
Short of crying along with my daughter, I told hubs I was going into our room to catch a break. The inner dialogue kicks in.
“I’m NEVER going to get time to myself. I’m never going to get to do yoga again. I have to anticipate the needs of my family, just to go to work to anticipate the needs of everyone but myself. Life just isn’t fair.”
I frantically make the bed smoothing it over a million times like a maniac. I realized what I was doing internally, and I stop. I try to relax. I physically soften my tense shoulders, I inhale deeply to really feel the anxiety, and I shift over to being the observer.
I open the blinds to let the soft & glowing morning light in, and I sit down on our freshly made and smoothed-over-a-million-times bed. Baby screams still coming from the living room.
Where am I going wrong?
Well for one, I need to acknowledge that anyone in my situation would feel frazzled, so what I’m feeling is totally normal. Trying to get out the door with a toddler early in the morning can result in a house looking like a tornado ripped through it, lots of baby tears, tensions between spouses, forgetting lunch boxes, and running late to work, just to name a few outcomes. Forget the fact that I need to shower, pull myself together, and mayyyyyybe brush my teeth? Kidding.
Sometimes I find my life covered in shit. Literal shit. Baby shit, dog shit, all forms of shit. Most of the time I laugh it off. But sometimes my day has been such that that I don’t have the disposition to laugh something off as easily. Sometimes I want to just retreat away to not be bothered.
And then I remember, oh yea, I’m supposed to be one of the responsible adults here.
There are countless things that go into play as to why a person even has anxiety to begin with, so I’m not going to even pretend like I’m knowledgeable enough to intelligently discuss that subject. However, I can share my personal experience with it.
Anxiety comes in many forms, and a lot of us don’t even know we’re experiencing it. People think “oh, I don’t have anxiety,” and think that they can’t relate. Most people don’t realize that they can feel anxiety without “having anxiety.” Meaning, not formally diagnosed with it.
If you are one of those people….let me maybe shift your perspective on what anxiety can look like.
Have you ever been traveling by plane, your first flight takes off late and that perfectly timed connection that you had planned is now becoming a smaller and smaller window of time? As you get to your connection destination, you start to feel antsy. You start to realize that you’ve never been to this airport before, let alone know how to speedily get through to a different terminal to make it to your next flight in time.
Uncertainties creep in, you feel your stomach churning. You start thinking, “oh, no….what am I going to do?” “What if I get stuck here?” “What if I don’t make it to my final destination in time?”
Well, apply those racing thoughts, uncertainty, and those anxious feelings to an everyday situation, and boom, you’ve got anxiety.
It looks different for everyone, but that’s what MY anxiety looks and feels like. I set an outline and expectations for my day (leave house by this time) and the moment I get off track from that schedule I instantly retreat to anxiety.
Most things that give us anxiety are beyond our control. There’s a few things I have to keep in mind when I find myself in a state of anxiety….
Absolutes are not helping me any.
Absolutes are words like “never” and “always.” For example, my thought of “I’m NEVER going to have time to myself again.”
This is not only an anxiety inducer, it is also a relationship killer. Telling someone “you never do this,” or “you always react this way,” is a surefire way to get a defensive and most likely unpleasant response.
The same is true with your internal dialogue.
Yes, I will eventually have time to myself again, but maybe just not today. I have a toddler, she’s in a really clingy stage right now and I know it’ll pass.
Someday I will have more time to myself, and until then I just need to realize this is what comes with the territory of being a parent. So it’s a perception shift + getting creative on ways to have me time. It’s something that will require a little planning and change but nothing that can’t be achieved.
Crying is ok.
I used to use every ounce of strength in me to avoid shedding a tear. To me, crying was a sign of weakness. What I’ve come to realize is that crying is a sign of STRENGTH. I am far from the strongest person I know. But what I have noticed of strong, emotionally healthy people, is that they’re not afraid to cry.
Crying is our bodies natural way of getting out energy. E-M-O-T-I-O-N. Energy in motion.
In yoga, we talk about deep hip openers being an energetic release. Being in positions that deeply open your hips can cause a practitioner to have an overwhelming wave of emotion come over them, it’s totally normal to feel like crying.
Our hips house intense emotions, particularly ones of rage, so if you ever feel like you’re losing it, hop into a child’s pose. Touching your forehead to the earth can be very grounding, your hips passively opening can help you release that energy. And if an ugly cry is calling your name, just let it rip. Your face will be down anyways, no one will see.
I need to be gentle with myself.
We tend to be our own worst critics. It’s human nature.
While I was in yoga teacher training we did a self discovery exercise that involved awareness of our fear based thoughts. Over the course of a week, we were supposed to jot down and keep track of anytime we had a fear based thought. I’ll admit I didn’t follow through very well on the writing it down part. However, it did force me to become more cognizant of my fear based thoughts.
Consider your perception to be glasses that you’re wearing. The lens of those glasses are thickened by a negative internal dialogue, fear, insecurity, self doubt, personal narrative, etc. The thicker your lenses are, the harder it is to see. The perception you have internally is going to shape your external world. Trust me on that.
If you can’t be gentle with yourself, then how are you supposed to be gentle with others? Someone who showed me some compassion during a recent hardship I was facing told me then, “I have a lot of compassion for my younger self.” Uncontrollable emotion welled up from within me. She was so right.
Compassion and gentleness come from within. If you truly try to understand the nature of human folly, then you will lessen the expectation of those around you. You will see that everyone is trying just like you to figure out this tricky thing called life. You’ll see a little gentleness goes a long way.
Trying to put things into context…
I remember that this moment right here is a tiny drop in the ocean of moments that I experience in my life. A funny thing happens a lot of times after a bout of anxiety, I usually feel a sense of appreciation. Whatttt? How could that be?
I have a beautiful home, I have a beautiful family, I have a stable job with good benefits. I am alive and well. My 2 year old is just being a 2 year old, and I am just being a normal human being with feelings.
How fortunate am I that I even have the ability to observe my anxiety? That I have the wits about me to recognize this jarring sensation and use it to teach me a lesson for future use.
This is a lesson in humility and vulnerability. I don’t have it together 100% of the time and I need to approach this situation with compassion and humor.
This is my conquest to lighten up. This is my journey to being real. This is part of my story.
This wont be the last time I feel this way, I can’t let it debilitate me. The tides of life are ever changing, some days will be good, some days will be less favorable.
This can be relatable even if you’re not a member of the parent’s club. If you’re currently working towards a goal and you hit a few snags along the way, assess if the long term benefit outweighs the risk.
If you’re passionate about something, or looking to make a drastic change in your life, then I think it’s normal to feel unsure at times. Sometimes you gotta go Bon Jovi style and live on a prayer.
If you want to take it one step further, on the days when you’re down in the dumps, spread some cheer. It’ll make you feel so much better and salvage your day.
Sounds counter intuitive I know, but if you’re not feeling all that great, send an unexpected note of appreciation to someone, or drop some flowers off on a coworker’s desk. Ask someone if they need help with anything. Donate some of your time to the less fortunate.
Do you live with anxiety? What are some ways you cope with, or have overcome it? I would love to hear from you.
Sending deep breaths, good vibes, and sunshine,