Tag Archives: anxiety

Curiosity Never Killed this Cat

curious

“Don’t feel pressured to make firm plans for the person you think you are now and will be years hence. They will box you in. You will wake up decades from now wondering how you are living a life decided on by who you believed you truly were when you were 21 years old. Instead, keep living life for the as-yet unknown person you will keep on morphing into; keep the possibilities open.”

I read this little nugget of wisdom in an article that popped in my inbox from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-breaking-free-yourself-michael-puett?trk=eml-b2_content_ecosystem_digest-hero-14-null&midToken=AQH4GcXhGvSdHw&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=1XGEoVENy1ang1.

When I feel overwhelmed at work or I’m entering situations/conversations I know I’m ill-equipped for, I take a step back and remind myself to stay curious.  I learned this as I was pounding the pavement in dental sales for Henry Schein, Inc.  I didn’t know my catalog.  I didn’t know what mattered to dentists.  I knew my products typically sold at a higher price than my competitors.  When I started to approach my days and my customers with curiosity I began listening more.  I was paying attention to things that really mattered and not my own agenda.  I was a better person for it and my sales numbers grew.  Whenever I interview for a new job, I stay curious.  When I encounter a difficult resident, I stay curious.  When something doesn’t feel right with my life, I stay curious.  When you approach ANYTHING with an open mind and with the expectation that you’re going to learn something, you can’t lose.

Staying curious grounds me and allows me the freedom to not get caught up in my own head.  It connects me to all living things and has afforded me the opportunity to learn on a daily basis.

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Breathe and Stay in Gratitude

Sometimes my life knows what I need before I do.  Does anyone else experience this?

The idea of breathing (ha, that just sounds funny because everyone breathes all the time) came to me when I started yoga.  I decided to take a stab at getting healthy and being more active.  That led to me trying yoga.  I was going to be that hot chick… that trendy hot chick with a rocking body.  No idea what really prompted me to try it but it completely saved me.  So like I started this weekly yoga thing and the first class kicked my ass.  I sucked at yoga.  I was incredibly uncomfortable and a few times I had to excuse myself from the torture and take a break.  I’m surprised an ambulance wasn’t put on stand-by that night.  I was a complete liability to myself, those around me and the studio.  Okay, okay… I’m exaggerating. It was ugly though and harder than I ever could have imagined.

But I did it.  I totally got through the class.  Being on a health kick and trying to push myself, I kept at it.  I went back every Monday night.  I still go every Monday night and I’m looking to potentially add a second night of torture to my week now.  But yoga became more to me as I began to face some challenges.  I went through some relationship issues with an on-again-off-again guy that shook me to the core.  It forced me to sit with years of lies, self-doubt, negative self-talk, and all that good stuff.  There were lots of tears and I immediately shoved myself back into therapy with the best therapist on the planet (I truly believe this).

My Monday nights at yoga left me feeling accomplished.  I continued to improve and really dug deep to push myself.  At the end of yoga, there’s always this quiet time to lay and reflect-there is a technical term for this but I have no idea what it’s called.  During this time I would give myself the best pep talks.  Like, “Look at you, Britta.  You’re doing it.” It felt so good!  It felt so right!  This helped me gain confidence and a new perspective.  Instead of chasing after feelings and trying to make something work, I began building what I wanted.  I began constructing the Britta I knew was always there.  I dusted her off and proved that her spirit and drive are constants (and very much alive).

What does breathing and gratitude have to do with all of this?  Yoga forces you to really focus on the breath.  If you can control your breath, you can control anything.  Remarkable!  This isn’t exactly new to me but it hit me in a new way.  As I find myself being overwhelmed and anxious, I turn to my breath and really stay in the moment.  As I hold a particularly hard pose in yoga, I turn to my breath and push through.  Nothing is constant.  There’s nothing that I can’t move through with a clear and focused mind.  Just breathe.  Also, my yoga instructor always reminds the class that the poses don’t start until you’re uncomfortable.  Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Remarkable!  It’s what was going on with me and it was a road map to pull my butt out of where it was.  I began to live again.

I threw in gratitude because I’m still keeping my gratitude journal.  Despite what I’m going through or how busy I am, I still dedicate a portion of my day to express gratitude.  It helps keep things in perspective.  I’ve built a few amazing practices into my life because they make me better.  Stress and anxiety aren’t necessities.  They don’t prepare me or force me to get more done.  Taking focused steps will and that takes breathing and appreciating everything around me.

 

Personal Revolution

I’m not the first human being during these era to wake up and truly believe that there must be more to life… amirite?  For myself, I feel like I go through these cycles.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  Things need to be torched to the ground so I can start over.  Things are getting better.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  And repeat.

Maybe the torch thing is a bit dramatic for a 35 year old woman.

But the cycles keep going and it’s like I’m constantly on the prowl to figure out how to stop it and witness sustained long-term progress.  It’s been a favorite subject of mine in both my written (yes, still handwritten) journal and in my therapy sessions.  Typically I’m searching my life for a culprit or a knight in shining armor.  Every now and then, like a good little therapy attender, I look inward and start to take stock of what is really going on inside.  Both looking outward and inward for a cause or a catalyst come with traps, right?

The outward-looking trap is quite obvious… no one and nothing other than yourself will propel you to that life of sustained progress.  It’s not possible.  The perfect mate, the amazing job, financial security, supportive family, and whatever other external factors people dump into the “if only I had this, I’d be happy” category are all nice, but they do little to affect the internal barometer of success.

The inward-looking trap isn’t quite as obvious (for me, anyway).  I tend to cycle through my childhood, poor decisions, bad things that have happened to me, my failures, and all the ways I’m not measuring up to the person I believe I am.  So I get stuck there analyzing segments over and over again with no resolution.  I’m merely providing an avenue to give everything that’s wrong a stronger voice.  In many ways, I’m allowing the universe to kick more of the same my way because that’s what I’m drawing attention to, right?

So… the outward and inward approaches aren’t working.  What’s next?  Let a professional handle it.  I’m extremely fortunate to work with an incredible psychologist.  He has a phenomenal skill set and continues to push me in the best possible ways.  The issues I’m facing are deep and I’ve done everything I can to suppress my feelings and their real effects on my life.  Sure, I can meditate.  I can do yoga.  I can say positive affirmations during the day.  I can work to stop the negative chatter in my head.  I can smile more.  I can approach work with a confident attitude.  But these are the small changes.  This are mainly superficial.  It’s the underlying layer that needs the real work.

What does that mean?  How do I get there?  And more importantly, what do I do with it when I arrive?

I don’t know.  I’ve lived for many years by not showing up and certainly not taking any accountability for the path I’m on.  Substance abuse allows one to hit the reset button over and over.  It allowed me to reassign the blame.  I passed the guilt onto alcohol.  I checked out and decided that not feeling was more important that feeling anything negative.  And so here I am… I feel like an infant all over again.  I need to learn how to navigate the world around me but unlike an infant, I also need to learn how to navigate the past that haunts me–that underlying layer that has constructed this escape.

I’m terrified.  Being terrified is a feeling though, right?  I’ll start with that.

I am not perfect.

It doesn’t happen often but I guess it happens often enough for me to keep doing it.  My journal reads just like my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (you get the point) grade journals.  The same themes and issues pop up and really it’s where my thoughts on boys and the daily grind of life go to die.  But I keep at it, trudge through, because every now and then I have wonderful insights… this happened just this past Saturday night.

I was enjoying a fabulous single-mom night in and I took to the page and scribbled a ton of ink down. I was borderline manic.  I penned the line, “I am not perfect,” and was like an epiphany.  Simple, right?  I don’t think anyone believes they are perfect.  I certainly don’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still judge and hold myself to the standards of perfection.  I think that’s part of the guilt I wrote about recently and the standards we hold ourselves to as humans.  I don’t spend a lot of time admitting to my downfalls though and it’s not the most comfortable thing to lay down on paper–I can assure you that.

But that one line hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not perfect.  In that one line I found myself holding myself in a place of tenderness.  I don’t do that very often.  I saw myself as a work in progress.  From there I could forgive and move past a few things.  I didn’t have all the answers and it was okay because I’m not perfect.  I wanted to run to the mirror and tell the girl in it that she was more than okay, that she was good.  I chickened out of the mirror part but I need to do that.  Saying things to yourself in the mirror is frightening but so f’n worth it.

That one sentence saved me in ways.  I combed through the past year.  It was a really tough year.  I walked away from a relationship that hurt me.  Sure, I told myself not to blame myself but I held some blame.  I was lied to, betrayed to in major ways, and found myself living a life of pure worry and anxiety.  I’m not perfect though and either is my journey.  It’s been that way for a long time but I’m okay.  So the revised sentence because, I’m not perfect and that’s okay.  My journey will never be perfect.  I was able to then look back at my life and celebrate my successes.  And giving myself some breathing room will allow me the space to cultivate more successes.  I can taste it.

I can’t control everything.  Now that I don’t have the worry of my past relationship I need a new way of building.  That got me thinking.  I’ve spent  a few years reacting and making decisions because I needed to make them.  I lost focus while on the defense.  That’s not what life should feel like, right?  So, it’s time to climb back into my imperfect skin and get down to Britta Business!  Let’s look at life through the Britta lens and make decisions from there.  I won’t be perfect.  Life will send me obstacles.  I will be hurt again.  I might fail.  But if I’m always perfectly Britta, I’ll be a better person because of those trials.

With fall comes Homecoming, right?  Fitting.

Morrissey is okay, but am I?

I love the song “Okay By Myself” by Morrissey…

Click to watch Morrissey perform it live!

Here are the lyrics:

Could this be an arm around my waist?
Well, surely the hand contains a knife?
It’s been so all of my life
Why change now? It hasn’t

Now this might surprise you but
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your morality to save me
No, no, no, no, no

Then came an arm around my shoulder
Well, surely the hand holds a revolver?
It’s been so all of my life
Why change now? It hasn’t

Now this might disturb you but
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your benevolence to make sense
No, no, no, no

After all these years
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your homespun philosophy
No, no, no, no

This might make you throw up in your bed
I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
And I never have, I never have
No, no, no, no

I struggle with the down time.  I always have.  Since high school I can remember cramming my schedule full of activities, clubs, groups, and friends.  And when I started dating, I never stopped, never took a break.  And now that I’m an adult (in some sense of the word) I’m the same exact way and I’m sick of it.  Why do I need so much attention?  So many distractions?  Why can’t I just be single?  Why can’t I put my stupid phone down and just relax?  Seriously, I feel like I’m facing a attention-starved, persistently lonely epidemic.  And what do I get from all that white noise?  What’s in it for me?  And is it causing more harm than good?

Every now and then I sit down to think about this but it’s like I’m an addict.  I can’t go a minute without some sort of stimulation (connecting, reaching out, etc.).  I seriously short-circuit when I don’t have my phone with me and I’m heating up a Hot Pocket in the microwave–it’s happened.  I respond immediately to social media, emails, text messages, snap chats, tweets, LinkedIn stuff, and whatever else can be schlepped onto this list.  I crave it.  I need it.

Lately I’ve been more hard on myself from the relationship point-of-view.  Why do I have to constantly be engaged with relationships?  I can’t wake up, get in the shower, get dressed, and go to work without checking in with a guy.  Why?  And I can’t move through my workday without the attention from someone.  Why?  Sure, it feels nice to be recognized and such but like why do I NEED that?  And aren’t I just setting up meaningless relationships?  OR, on the other side of the coin, maybe I’m creating unrealistically high expectations for anyone looking to take on the role of being my boyfriend full-time?  Probably.

What am I getting out of saturating my time with meaningless check-ins and attention?  I’m projecting.  I’m looking for praise in hollow spaces.  I have that problem.  What’s my weakness?  It’s sitting by myself with nothing but quiet.  TERRIFYING!  I’m not okay by myself.  I don’t even permit the time to be alone.  It’s been like this forever.  I can’t live life afraid of myself.  I’m better than that.  Therapy always helped block out time for introspection and quiet time. Maybe I need to get back to therapy.

Anyway…

I need to focus on what’s important.  I need more genuine interactions focused on growing.  Anything that is “filler” needs to be trimmed.

My Audience

Like every blogger (maybe?) I often catch myself telling friends that I need to blog more. It’s not like I’ve had some lengthy career to  warrant the comment.  Quite the opposite really.  But why do I say it?  And why DON’T I blog more?  I liken it to my cohabitation days.  Whenever I live with someone, my journal drastically changes tone because I feel like I’m writing for an audience.  I write with the idea in mind that whoever I’m living with is going to read my journal.  So, I have a certain audience in mind.  I can’t freely express my thoughts.  Perhaps this has a lot to say about the untrustworthy people I’ve lived with in the past and my horrible decisions.  That’s another topic for a rainy day–a REALLY rainy day or maybe even a huge snow storm that renders me stuck inside for weeks!

Is blogging the same for me?  Am I avoiding blogging for the simple truth that I just don’t want to either be transparent OR I don’t want to write with a specific audience in mind (all the people who may read  this now or will read this in the future)?

I feel like I’m good at a lot of things… but living, breathing, and being in the moment is not one of them.  My middle name should be anxiety.  Deep down I feel like this is the only barrier I have to successfully blogging… And, ummm, maybe living a full life (the latter being a bit more important–but just slightly, right?).  My comfort zone is small, warm, known, and something I’ve grown to love because I know exactly what to expect.  But I know there’s more outside the proverbial cave.  Dare I find out what the shadows represent?

I’m going to do my best to throw caution to the wind, forget my real audience, my fake audience, my future audience, and all agendas and I’m just going to write.

Wish me luck… and stay tuned!