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My friendship with an anxious brain

Updated: May 21, 2021

I always want accomplish more, connect more and love more. I want to show up kinder with my friends, stronger for my spouse and wiser to my children. Striking a balance between gratitude for today and excitement for tomorrow has been my happy place. Today is full of blessings and tomorrow is full of opportunity.

However, these aspirations have always come with challenges. Mind games. Life long shackles that seem as though they were birthed with me... and these shackles have created fear, insecurity, people pleasing behaviors which have stopped me from accomplishing my dreams of tomorrow.

I have anxiety and have spent nearly 35 years in a constant battle with my mind. To be a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on the disagreements in my mind...

This duel never ends. Ever. And at times, it is physically exhausting.

But, over the past decade - accelerated during this year - the battle began to shift. I began to win. When I say "win," I don't mean that my anxiety went away or that I tried to silence it. In fact, it was the very opposite. I stopped being afraid of it. I welcomed it, acknowledged it and started making fantastically terrifying decisions because of it. And rather than fight, anxiety and I started having conversations. Respectful conversations. We both took a seat at the table and began to befriend one another.

Professionally, I council my clients to consider their audience carefully and choose corresponding words that articulate, simply. As this friendship between my anxiety and myself grew, the words I chose during these "conversations" were more powerful than ever. After all, it is the conversations we have with ourselves that can propel us forward or hold us back.

My ability to 'win' or rather, transform, the battle into conversation cannot be attributed to one thing. A series of events, situations, thought patterns and beliefs led me to this moment of strength. Therapy, medication, meditation, self help books...they all played a pivotal role throughout the years in the design of me. And I am proud of the work I have done and the work I continue to do. Yet, the piece that has been most impactful in the reframing of my struggle is my choice of words. My anxious brain is part of who I am. I respect it, honor it, speak to it with compassionate words. AND I also recognize that it has limited me in the past. Today, in some instances it informs my decisions, but it will no longer make my decisions. This distinction is critical.

Just this morning, after a challenging week, I noticed the shackles begin to return. I woke up feeling unsettled - a familiar feeling I hadn't felt in months. And I was reminded that my struggle with anxiety continues. And to ensure the battle ceases and the conversations remain, my words matter.

Now, in the month of May, I am motivated to document the shifting conversations...the way I have both acknowledged anxiety and chosen simple, articulate words to dismantle these shackles. Some days it feels easy. Others, nearly impossible. Yet, there is a system I have identified and its helpful to review this playbook - especially on those mornings when anxiety seems to win.

I have managed to transform my once achilles heel into my secret weapon. It's not every day or every moment, but through the use of words, battles have become conversations and I am beginning to feel free.

I hope that May brings those who need it, comfort. You are not alone.

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