It was week 3 into a self imposed weekly blogging commitment and I was sick. I’d been vomiting and my stomach felt shredded; I was exhausted. Fair excuse to not fulfill my commitment?
The next week I still wasn’t feeling great, but had every intention to write. I knew what I was writing and someone’s email about my blog What’s your anxiety vicious circle was my inspiration to get the next step to my subscribers. But by late afternoon, it wasn’t happening and, you know, I’d missed last week so another week wouldn’t make much difference.
I did start a video to try and help answer the writer’s question (beyond my reply). I had a whiteboard with the vicious circle and started talking it through on camera, but stuffed it up. I’d get back to it, I thought…
The next week, from memory, was Easter. I was headed away with my Mum and was time poor. Well that was my excuse – even though, in reality, I could have written the article at any time and automated the publish time.
Then, well, there was some reason for not writing, and even though with every passing week I was feeling the weight of guilt for not delivering, I was becoming more and more paralysed.
Oh, I lie, actually; I did start my follow-up article to vicious circles, but got so overwhelmed about explaining it properly – because it’s so important for anxiety sufferers to understand their thinking patterns – that I stopped in near mental exhaustion.
This blog was turning into the push-me-pull-you dance I have with the gym – I know I need to go to lose a few kilos and to achieve my bucket list item of a half marathon, and even knowing I will feel fabulous after going, for some reason I don’t get there.
Then my brain starts going into full analysis about why I haven’t gone.
In one moment I realise it’s just one day and I’ll go “tomorrow” so in the big picture it’s not the end of the world. But the next moment I don’t see it as just one step of many and believe I’ve just ruined any chance of ever getting to half marathon fitness. Oh, and add, how hopeless I am to all that.
When I’m headed to bed I wonder why I didn’t just go because it would have been done and I would be feeling accomplished rather than guilt to end my day. But I knew that when I was making my decision not to go…
Anything you can relate to in this thinking that hinders you stepping towards anxiety recovery?
Now, that may sound really harsh that I’m comparing blogging and gym workouts to anxiety recovery. Anxiety and panic attacks are out of your control and you’re not choosing to experience this. I know I wouldn’t wish my anxiety experiences and time of agoraphobia on my worst enemy.
But, to start getting well, I had to commit to the work and train my mind and body. I had to think about what the end goal was and the steps needed to get there. And commit.
For this, I knew (after many solo attempts to recover from agoraphobia) I needed professional help and an amazing psychiatrist to get there. The road to agoraphobia and anxiety recovery is tough. So tough!
Today, I probably also need to get a personal trainer at my gym. A set time and commitment to get me into that gym or lose some cash and have to explain my reasons to more than me.
With Unbuckle Your Fears, I need accountability and a personal coach to keep me going – and have spoken with a super amazing friend to maybe help (and produce possible podcasts – big picture goal).
But, why do we sometimes need these extra people to get us where we need? Why can’t the goal itself be enough motivation for us to get started? Why is it I can’t do what others can do to reach their goal?
Five years ago when I started my marketing business, I started crushing on Seth Godin. He’s a great source of inspiration for my work. In one of his blogs he talked about Quietening the Lizard Brain (and I encourage you to click on that link and read it now).
Understanding the concept of self sabotage was a major “aha” moment for me.
“We say we want one thing, then we do another… We say we want to be thin but we eat too much. We say we want to be smart but we skip class or don’t read that book the boss lent us.”
He then asks: Why is it so difficult to do what we say we’re going to do?
In my experience, the lizard brain helps us rationalise not succeeding, whether we’re aware or not of the thinking. Sometimes our excuses are so ingrained in our thinking and our life that we genuinely believe they’re, well, genuine.
Kicking the lizard brain to the curb is as easy said as done as removing anxiety thinking. But, what’s critical to know is:
Being aware of your thought patterns and questioning them is your freedom to success. Be that finishing a half mara, writing your blog or recovering from anxiety and agoraphobia.
That’s why the last blog was such an important place to start for anyone wanting freedom from anxiety ruling their life.
But also understanding that if your anxiety brain is anything like mine, you will have a rampant lizard scampering around trying to sabotage any of your best intended plans.
And, that’s why having a support person is so important. Be it a professional (preferable) or someone you can trust to not let you get away with your excuses.
Now, whilst I was genuinely sick the first week of missed writing, I was not vomiting by the time I usually wrote (Sundays) and could have grabbed my laptop and written to you.
And whilst today I didn’t get to the gym today because – well, there was no genuine reason, but I’ve tried to convince myself that if it didn’t close early because of Queen’s Birthday I would have made it.
It’s about paying attention to your thinking. Because unless you know what’s actually happening and being honest about it, you can’t make change.
And change is what’s needed to get you well.
Clearly (because here I am!) this afternoon I grabbed my laptop and snuggled under a doona with a cat on top writing what I think may be helpful content.
Don’t worry, I really tried my best to sabotage grabbing the laptop. But, what I now know is if I’m feeling kinda good about doing something to use that feeling at that very moment and get started (without procrastination). Because that feeling of motivation disappears quickly, but once I start I usually keep going.
Sometimes it’s not successful. Like the time I started an article I never went back. But, that’s ok, you need to brush that off and start again. Because, this time I will finish it.
But, what I also acknowledge I need to do for Unbuckle Your Fears is take off some pressure. I so want to help every single one of you I was paralysing my progress because I believed every bit of content had to be perfect and part of workbook for your recovery. Rather than simply focusing on telling you about mine.
So, I’m going to now try and focus on getting content out as I feel inspired and slowly work my way through 40 odd years of anxiety and depression stories that I hope will give you hope.
And, this will get me started on working my way towards another life bucket goal, one I’ve had for years, writing a book.
Step by step. Thought by thought. Aha by aha.
Hope you’ve found this read helpful. You will quickly learn I storify all my content with analogies to try and help make my point – I hope that’s also helpful.
If you feel brave, comment below how you sabotage your anxiety recovery.
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Please note, this information is not intended to replace the advice of a mental health professional and I encourage you to seek professional help or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 4636 if you’re struggling and live in Australia. Remember you matter xx