Stealthy anxiety

Feeling quite bright and energetic this morning, I was very productive and creative. Ideas were flowing with confidence, dreaming was occurring with pride, and work was completed. Then, all of a sudden I noticed my energy dwindling, my frustrated thoughts coming around, and then the age-old indicator appeared when I went in the bathroom to shower. I looked in the mirror and I was disgusted. This is the strangest aspect of me, I think, although maybe there are stranger and I have yet to discover them, when I am uncomfortable emotionally, I am convinced I am ugly.

You may be wondering what my sense of ugly is, and frankly I have that same exact question, because I find most people to be beautiful, as long as they are not hurting others. Ha! When I re-read that statement, I realize I have just answered my own question. My ugly equals bad person. Usually, the feeling that happens before the determination that I am disgusting is anxiety. This individualized and unique pattern I have learned the hard way over the years. When I am convinced I am unattractive, worthless, despicable I must retrace my steps and find that moment I became anxious.

This conversation is a tough one and I personally believe it has everything to do with addiction, unhealthy relationships, and maladaptive behaviors, or at least for me it has. Anxiety shows up for us in all different ways and we must become detectives at searching out the beginning point of our feelings. In the midst of a conversation with another person not too long ago about anxiety and phobias, he just kept saying, "I don't get it, I don't understand, just don't be anxious about that, people should just stop being anxious about stupid stuff." Looking at him with compassion, because I have known him for an extensive period of time, I know his insecurities and anxieties that he often asks others to support him through, and at the same time will not acknowledge.

It is just not that simple. We can't just stop being anxious about certain triggers, it has to do with our childhood, our amygdala, our personality, our hopes and dreams, and our honesty. However, what we can do is learn our own process, identify our triggers, understand our emotional default system and put coping strategies in place.

In this particular case, I retraced my steps to a few hours before when I had received an email pointing out a mistake and an incompetency. I understood that since that email I had increased negative thinking and negative emotions. I remembered that negative thinking and negative emotions always lead me to being convinced I am ugly. I remembered my coping plan, call a friend and receive love and validation (check), face the demon head on (in this case respond to the email with authenticity, check), journal and/or write blog (1/2 check), put on my favorite sweatpants, get comfortable, and daydream about all the ways I am ok (check).

Anxiety is tricky but it is not a trick. Without facing our sneaky feelings head on, they can lead to lasting challenges with mental health, addiction, relationships, and self-esteem. There are ways to face them, it takes practice, time, support, and hope. I am back to feeling energized and creative and I am off to take a walk in the sunshine.