I woke up this morning feeling more anxious than I have in the last few weeks. I almost went through the same cycle that I usually do; canceling any immediate plans that I can, lying in bed, crying some, journaling, and then after a while deciding that I don’t want to feel that way anymore.
But today was different. Because today, someone set a boundary with me and forced me to set a boundary with my anxiety...
So, I used to think that by structuring the way I lived my life, by doing specific self-care routines, and by having a healthy mind and body, that I could “heal” my anxiety and make it disappear.
Then I learned that general anxiety doesn’t ever go away but there are ways to cope with it. And so I went from feeling it in my entire soul-body to feeling it just pass over me as waves.
But there’s always been one part of my anxiety that I never could seem to learn from or push past. It was the moments when it made me freeze.
That feeling like you don’t want to leave where you are even if you don’t like where you are.
That feeling that you want to have fun and do good work but all your body can do is lie down and distract yourself with a screen or a book.
That feeling of knowing that you seem “flaky” and don’t have as much of a social life as you’d like or don’t network as much as you would like to help your business.
That feeling of wanting to be out in the world but feeling so withdrawn and paralyzed with fear that it turns into what looks like procrastination.
That feeling of literally second-guessing every single decision you make.
This is all anxiety.
But I’m also learning that anxiety is being and feeling more expansive than you let yourself feel.
Like a hermit crab who has outgrown her shell but is afraid to leave it find another one. It’s how I felt when I had my 9-5 desk job but was afraid to quit. It’s how I felt before I broke up with my boyfriends that I knew I wasn’t meant to be with. It’s how I feel before I have to confront someone honestly. It’s even sometimes how I feel right before I’m about to lead a women’s workshop; I know deep down that the evening will be AMAZING but right before, I’m scared as hell.
Anxiety is the feeling BEFORE you find the new shell or quit the job or speak your truth or set the boundary or let something go.
Do you ever have anxiety?
How does it show up in your body, in your mind, in your actions?
This blog is being written right now because this morning, one of my best friends set a boundary with me- and it couldn’t have been better timing. She told me I was letting her down by flaking and in that moment I realized that I’m in catering to my anxiety, I’m letting down the people that I love. I’m making my paralyzing fear a priority, rather than leaning in to the life that I actually want.
So that boundary that this amazing person set with me, helped me set one with myself.
Have you ever set a boundary with yourself around your anxiety? She did that for me. It opened my eyes, it helped me get up off the bed and get dressed. And instead of dreading getting out of the house, I opened myself up to receiving her support. I allowed myself to be honest and vulnerable. I’m proud of her for setting boundaries and I’m proud of me for being honest.
Is anxiety causing you to freeze in an area of your life right now? Sometimes it’s work, sometimes relationships, sometimes a health-thing that we know we want and need to do but just can’t.
This is where boundaries can be used. Imagine your anxiety is like another person. You can speak to it- you can set the boundary. You can write it a letter:
I understand where you’re coming from. I value the lessons you bring me but I have to set a boundary. I am ready to _____ and you are keeping me from doing that. I understand that you’ll always be in my life but right now, I need to take some space from you because this isn’t cool to me anymore and it’s not serving me.”