1/16/17- Today I wanted to discuss anxiety, because I often have issues with it (please don't feel bad- anxiety doesn't always mean that you can't function in life....you just have to know how to live with it and roll with it). For those of you who have never had anxiety before, first of all I'm jealous, let me give you an idea of how it works: It's like having someone constantly at your side that says they're your friend, but they really aren't because they hold you back/are like a poison. You involuntarily consult with them on everything you do in life, and they give you their unwanted input. Here's an example: In 2012, I got into my first car accident hydroplaning into the back of another vehicle. For the longest time afterwards, when I would get into a car to drive in busy traffic, my anxiety would chime in "Well, here we go again. There was traffic last time when you had your accident, therefore you're probably going to have another one if you decide to go out. What if your brakes fail again? Was that sound your car made normal? You're better off to just stay home. I mean, do you realllllyyy need to go out?"
Anxiety prays upon your fears, like a childhood bully- fear of failure, fear of rejection, you name it. The only way to battle anxiety is to call out it's bullshit with logic, to stand up to the bully and not let them keep you from going out to the playground or taking the shortcut home from school that you've once loved. You have to refuse to let it define you and instead let it strengthen you. If you've done it enough times, that voice will begin to sound like a soft whisper in the wind at things that you were once anxious about.
I did a mud run about a year and a half ago. I ended up getting stuck to my hips in mud with no one else around and having to use my upper body strength and a tree trunk near me to pull myself out after 10 minutes. I lost both of my shoes and a sock and had several cuts from the bush that I fell into trying to get myself out. I was freaking terrified, So you can imagine my fear/anxiety when I had signed up for another obstacle course races and one of the obstacles was, you guessed it, mud. I kept telling myself that I would just skip that one obstacle when we got to it, no biggie. However, God must have had other plans for me. I met a woman that was also running the race by herself, and we decided to run together. The more I talked to her, the more I considered her a friend. I confided in her about my fear of mud and explained why. When we got to the obstacle, she encouraged me to just do it. I decided to ignore the fear to a point where I would do it (the anxiety doesn't go away when you do this; instead it grabs its megaphone and gets louder).
Now the previous month before, I had encountered the works of Tony Robbins. He emphasizes the importance of positive self talk and visualization. So as my hand trembled along the rope marking the course and I would climb up and at random points sink down in the mud ( as far as up to my shoulders at some points in the .25 miles of it), I kept repeating to myself and sometimes out loud so that I could hear it "I can do this", no matter how much my shaking voice and inner self was doubting the words. I finally reached the end of that obstacle, and I'm pretty sure I began crying tears of joy at my accomplishment. I was so proud of myself in that 5-10 minutes, that I breezed through the rest of the obstacles because to me they were cake compared to the biggest one personally for me that I had just completed.
In recap, dealing with anxiety is an uphill battle, but it isn't impossible to have wins over it. I still hate and avoid mud when I can, but that fear no longer controls my life. So now I have a challenge for you. The next time that you feel anxious about something- I want you to journal it. Write down what your anxiety/the high school-like bully is saying, then below in a lighter color, write down why what it's saying is complete bs, why you shouldn't be afraid, and why you will succeed. I cannot promise overnight success, but after you do that a few times, I can promise that after a while it may not seem as bad....you will conquer it!