Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Listener

Against my better judgment, I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and read it while I ate breakfast at my desk this morning. For my job, it’s important that I keep up with the news. However, the news is so dismal that when I actually take a step back and think about where our economy is I can’t believe it’s gotten this bad. I sometimes feel like I’ve been running around with my hands over my eyes. And while I’ll admit that I prefer Vogue over the Times and re-runs of 90210 to CNN, I sometimes wish that I’d sit up and pay attention to what is happening around me before it’s too late.

I’m a huge advocate of introspection. While my “perhaps if I close my eyes it will all go away” mentality of dealing with the negative and upsetting news may seem like it works, it’s not a good way to deal with burgeoning anxiety. It’s actually not a good way to deal with anything. I know I don’t pick up the paper very often (insert embarrassed emoticon here) but every time I do it shows me just how out of the loop I really am. I pick up bits and pieces and probably even enough to get by, but it’s not really enough. Once I saw that I was mimicking this with my anxiety, I immediately stopped and ripped every self-help book off the shelf and tagged each anxiety website I came across. I educated myself on anxiety… the symptoms, the feelings, what goes on in the body, the mind, how it affects me, how it affects others… It is near impossible to solve a problem when you don’t know the facts. And it’s also hard when in the throes of anxiety to stop and work your way –logically- thru it. People with anxiety are emotional reactors. But people with anxiety are also creative, analytical and compassionate. Something that helps me a lot is sitting down and just thinking about things. I need to concentrate and really crawl inside myself to see what’s going on. Recently I’ve been plagued with a rather difficult bout of anxiety. I’ll admit… my first reaction was frustration and disappointment. After all, I hadn’t had anxious feelings in quite some time (yay me!). But, after closer inspection, here’s what I came up with:
1) Hubby was going to be away for work for a few days
2) I had to skip the gym for a whole week
3) I had to rearrange a lot of my sched to accommodate hubby being away
4) I didn’t have anything to do after work

These 4 things for me are a recipe for disaster. The gym is my release. I need the gym. I need the “me time” it gives me. It also releases a lot of pent up frustration that I subconsciously hold onto. My husband being away always upsets me. I enjoy his company and love being around him and I’ve never really been to hyped up on alone time. Rearranging my schedule and trying to take care of all our combined responsibilities by myself has caused me some stress and the kicker… not having anything to do. That sends me into a tailspin. Boredom is the minds worst enemy. At least for me it is! That’s when I spend my time worrying about EVERYTHING because I’m not occupied with anything else. So yes, I had a tough week. But when I took the time to sit down and internally sort out what was going on… I realized my anxiety was the external reaction to what was going on internally. See how important that is? I was so quick to get frustrated and angered by the anxiety (emotion reaction alert!) that I didn’t think to take the time to see what was really bothering me. And once I did, the anxiety dissolved. I talked myself thru it, addressed my concerns (of course I’m anxious with the increased responsibilities, it’s a lot. But I’ll get it done, and if I don’t its no big deal) and let it go. I love introspection, but it takes time to figure it out. Your answers are always there. They may be hidden inside and under layers of emotions, but they are there. That “little voice” or the nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach… those feelings are answers. And if you take the time to listen to yourself, you may be surprised at what you hear.

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