I’m finding since I started blogging my stress levels have reduced. The stresses of my job and my life don’t cause me as much anxiety. And when I do start to feel anxious I’m able to talk myself down more quickly than in the past. I’m able to find more joy and laughter in my daily life. To keep a more realistic view of my responsibilities and expectations. In a nutshell, my life is more balanced.
This has not always been the case though. So what changed, you may ask?
Let me take a step back and share an “aha” moment that came to me recently while reading some words by Brené Brown about calm and stillness. *
Anxiety will always be in my life. I can’t totally eliminate it, no matter how much I would like to find a magic potion to do so. In the past, I was always looking for ways to eliminate anxiety altogether from my life. While I can definitely do things to reduce it, eliminating it is not possible. Therefore I was setting myself up for failure (and more anxiety) from the get go. It was a never ending cycle – one that I needed to break.
Brown notes that we have to become anxiety-aware. We have to accept anxiety as a part of our reality, but NOT as a lifestyle. That is what my problem was. I was trying to totally get rid of all the anxiety in my life and by doing so, created more anxiety for myself to the point that it became my lifestyle – it became who I was.
So what is the answer? CALM. Calm is managing our reactions so we can gain a better perspective before reacting. We need to train ourselves to respond with calm rather than anxiety. Both anxiety and calm are contagious which means whatever we put out there will produce more of the same within us and within those around us.
So how do we create calm and become contagious with it? The answer is stillness. This is hard to do in our society. We have been taught that our self worth is based on our productivity and exhaustion is a status symbol. These are NOT badges of honor though. Accepting this has required rewiring my brain, my thought processes and my priorities. I have by no means fully accepted and grasped it yet, but I am aware of it now. That was the first step for me and I continue to work at it day by day.
We stay busy to avoid stillness because this is when we come face to face with our true selves. And we fear meeting ourselves. This is what My Journey to Imperfection is about for me, meeting myself – the good, the bad and the ugly. And embracing ALL of me. It has been hard, especially in the beginning, but it has been worth it.
One thing I am also learning is that stillness does not always mean physical stillness. We each must find ways for us to be still – ways to create what Brown calls a clearing for ourselves. This will be different for each of us.
Writing has become one of my areas of stillness. It seemed weird at first to me that writing – which is an activity – could actually be a way for me to be still. However, that is exactly what it has become. It is an outlet for my anxiety. It allows it to flow out of me rather than being bottled up within me, left to simmer and eventually boil over. Writing is a way to calm the waters of my soul and create stillness.
This has not always been the case though. I had to first change my mindset and reasons for writing. In the past, I wanted to write but even thinking about it caused me anxiety because I was filled with fear. Fear of failure, fear of not meeting the expectations of others, and the fear of being seen as a fraud. But when I decided to really go for it, to let go of who I thought I should be based on the expectations of others, things shifted for me. When I decided to do it for ME, it became a source of peace and calm rather than a source of anxiety.
So I ask you today, what is your way to be still? Have you found it yet? What do you need to let go of?
*Brown, Brene. “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Chapter – Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle.
Post Photo: My cat Cookie – proof that anxiety is contagious. When I start yelling in my house, Cookie will perch herself as close to my face as possible and start yelling back at me.