Answer this question quickly, without thinking: what do you want?
I’m not talking about the huge, fantastic dreams that you had as a kid, like becoming a Broadway star, talking to animals, or breathing underwater. You can let go of those unrealistic wishes and accept the beautiful, ordinary life that’s in front of you.
No, I’m talking about the quiet dreams that hover like a mist over your mind and heart: those life goals that you always thought you’d like to accomplish if you only had the time, the motivation, the energy, the help, or the confidence. Don’t give up on those.
You can have what you want, but you choose defeat by hiding behind your anxiety.
You choose defeat by hiding behind anxiety.
Anxiety as an Excuse
I don’t have the same capacity for output that other people do. I need to treat myself more gently than most people because of my anxiety. I don’t want to push myself beyond my limits. I need quiet, rest, and structure. I’ve never been very ambitious, anyway.
Does that sort of self-talk sound familiar? If so, you may be in danger of using your anxiety as an excuse to avoid your goals. I’m a big believer in routines, but you must also consider yourself capable of doing something difficult. You have what it takes.
Don’t develop regrets simply because you crave familiarity more than adventure.
Don’t develop regrets because you crave familiarity.
Stepping Beyond Your Anxiety
Here’s how I attempt to rise above my fears instead of letting them stifle me:
Remember the fears that you have already conquered. For instance, I learned to enjoy snowboarding after seven days of sobbing on the slopes. At work, I calmly make phone calls and send emails. I have written excellent research papers and merged on the freeway. At one point, I told myself I couldn’t possibly do those things.
I was wrong then. I could be wrong now. Maybe I really can do this.
Those times you didn’t succeed tend to stick in your mind and whisper, “You’ll mess up again.” You won’t. You’re more experienced now. You’re wiser. Anyway, failure isn’t the worst thing. So what if you failed before? Maybe it’s time to fail again. Is this something you want to do? Then do it! Don’t let a little failure get in your way.
Don’t try to accomplish your goals immediately. Think about what you need to get there, and attempt one tiny piece every day. Don’t overwhelm yourself, or you won’t be able to keep it up. When you start to lose the habit, just start again. No big deal. The point is that you aren’t letting your fear stop you from living your life fully. Yes, you really can do this.
Say it with me, nice and loud: “I won’t let my anxiety win!”
The Reluctant Bride