Learning how to overcome or lower my anxiety wasn’t just a decision made by other people in my life. A little bit more than a half a year ago, when I realised that I was a Highly Sensitive Person all my life, I decided that the only logical thing I can do to help myself enjoy life was to learn to cope with anxiety. I’ve learned a little, and there are plenty more battles to be fought, but I know how hard it is to start this process – especially if you’re an HSP like me.
Make A Decision To Live
A year before I learned I am a Highly Sensitive Person, I was trying to get help with my depression from university therapists. Winter weather in UK depresses me a lot, which is why in the start of that winter I was experiencing another episode of my Seasonal Adhesive Disorder. But it really got kicked off because of a breakup. When you have depression, the anxiety follows it like a long-time friend.
So, in the middle of doubting myself and finding all the different reasons why I suck at life, I decided that I will live for the sake of seeing what the life got. But of course, it wasn’t just that easy. I still doubted myself, but what it did do – it made a boundary for myself from myself, that I will not kill myself no matter what.
Why is that a good thing? I think I hoped that after getting to the bottom of my life I will be able to jump up high enough to be able to fly again.
After that winter I felt like a person who is able to live this life how I want it. And, I even started striving to achieve greatness. This is why I needed to get really strong. But to be strong in life means to be resilient and flexible at the same time – to be able to withstand the hard times, but also be able to adapt when necessary.
As an HSP, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I took everything very seriously. Every bump felt like a mountain. But with my previous decision to live, I just couldn’t give up anymore – and I wanted to know if I will break from these ‘mountains’.
I knew that I needed support, but I was not emotionally very stable yet. This is why my partner got me a planner that I really wanted. It was and still is a true blessing. Not only it thought me how to prioritise what is really valuable to me in life, but to also accept change.
Now I see change – whether it is going to a shop (change of physical environment) or getting to know someone (change of emotions and feelings) – as a definition for life. To live is to be constantly changing. Resistance to change – is resistance to life. And it is painful to resist life.
Let Yourself Suck
In my childhood, to which I think most of us can relate, I was one of the ‘geniuses’. My parents loved how I am just ‘so smart’ and ‘so pretty’, but my social life never gave me this reassurance. I would have one best friend or two, but even then my mother would tell me that I chose them wrong and that I am somehow bad because of it. Sure my best friends weren’t saints, but who is at the age of 8 anyways?
Anyway, I got burned when talking to people on my own, and then my mother also got me to think that I am doing something wrong even when it was all fine. Any mental illness comes from a trauma, and this was one of the things that created social anxiety (and later anxiety overall) for me – a repeated message in my head that something is wrong.
And, after deciding to live and accepting that change is inevitable, I had no other choice but to let myself be as clumsy as I need or as it will happen. It is hard to see yourself be like that because we all have this image of being ‘cool’ or ‘beautiful’ – which I think is also part of perfectionism. And let us be clear on one thing – no one is ever perfect on the first try. It might have looked like this in your and mine childhoods because the things we were doing were relatively easy. Yet here we are trying to micromanage our complex beings and thinking it will be as easy as singing ABC’s.
Let yourself suck, it is healthy for you and your growth. If you are overthinking how will this meeting turn out, or the interview you’re going to, or that is to talk to a cashier in a shop, or to talk to your friends about feelings – let yourself suck. And it is not going in and deliberately making wrong decisions. It is to have a hope that it will turn out how you want it, but to also be at peace if it won’t.
Learn To Take Action
When I let myself to not be perfect, and to not be able to ‘get it’ from the first try, I felt miserable. But because I decided that I will never kill myself, going back wasn’t an option anymore. So I had to do something about what I felt because it wasn’t fair. Which is why I thought that I will improve and made some effort to improve.
For HSP, taking action can be even more scary than for other people. After all our brains do make more cortisol than the average, which certainly doesn’t help in new and unknown situations. However, I think that all of us, no matter how sensitive, have to pay this price in order to get to where we truly want – and that is to not be anxious at least.
A book ‘Feel The Fear But Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers is an all time classic for empowering you to overcome anxiety towards action. I listened to it on YouTube for free here.
If you got to this stage in trying to start coping with your anxiety, it should be easy for you to at least decide that you’ll be free from anxiety all together sometime in the future. You’ve done an amazing journey so far, and I am proud of you!
Have you struggled with anxiety? What did you let go of?
Are you struggling with anxiety right now? What do you think you need to let go of?
Thank you for reading this post, and I’ll see you this Saturday for a flash fiction piece to illustrate the world from the view of an HSP.
Featured image source is here.