i believe i fit into that group of people that is expertly skilled at finding ways to avoid doing what you fear. i spent a huge amount of time crafting endless reasons and excuses as to why i couldn't do this or why i couldn't go there. if i felt anxious at the thought of it... i definitely wasn't going to do it! i would do anything to avoid a panic attack and the exhaustion that followed an anxious episode. i was a master at it.
however, as times began to change and i began to get a hold of my anxiety i began to slowly face my fears. little by little i would step out of my comfort zone and test my ability to remain calm and in control of my emotions and feelings when i felt scared or unsure of something. of course it helped that i had opened up to people about what i was dealing with, so i was vocal about how i felt each time i took a leap into the unknown. and the unknown ranged from going to the movies to taking a road trip.... anything that was a potential trigger for me.
recently i was given the opportunity to face a situation or fear it. i was offered some very early morning classes to teach a couple of times a week. now for me, the early morning is a very anxious time. its subsided to almost non-existent, but every now and then i'll have those anxious feelings if i'm up early to do something. when the opportunity came up for the classes, i expressed my concern with my husband. "should i, shouldn't i?" came up so many times it made my head spin. but i ultimately decided to take them because i didn't want to make a decision with my anxiety fueling the choice. so i faced it. i took 'em on! and i love them!
there have definitely been a few bumps in the road. remember that stomach virus i mentioned? well it hit me early in the morning as i was getting ready for that class. i was sick as a dog with something that reminded me of my worst anxious episodes and i truly felt like crying. i thought i made a horribly wrong decision because at the time i didn't know it was a virus... my mind automatically thought it was anxiety. i guess its easy to fall into old patterns. but the important thing is that i recognized it for what it was, i STILL went to the class and i didn't give up on myself. i thought of this again today as i headed to the class without a stitch of concern of anxiety. i felt awesome! i had a great class! i felt so strong i thought i could jump over buildings! that's how powerful being anxiety-free is! so needless to say, i'm sticking with this. i am facing this head on. and i know there will be times when i feel less than amazing in the morning, but it'll all be ok. and the more i face my fears, the stronger i'll become.
we know i'm a big believer in the fact that we'll always have times when we feel anxious. it's an emotion. we can't relieve the feeling of anxiety any more than we can relieve the feeling of happiness or sadness. but what i believe strongly is that we can heal from anxiety being debilitating or life altering. when i went into the city to the museum of modern art over this past weekend (to see an AWESOME tim burton exhibit!) i chatted with my husband about how far i continue to come. i never used to feel comfy during car trips and if i HAD to do one, i insisted on driving so that i was in control. i wouldn't eat or drink so that i could avoid any potential stomach/nausea issues. but here i was, on a 45 min car drive, as a passenger and we went to the museum and grabbed lunch to boot! and i was feeling fine!
so the eternal question.... to face it or fear it? if you know your triggers its important to begin exposing yourself to them little by little so you know you'll be ok. however, i do think that its crucial to have relaxation and calming behaviors you can call on (and that you know will work!) before facing the fears. because if you don't have those tools or understanding... you can't really ease the anxiety you'll be facing. so commit to stress busters that work for you and go out and start facing your fears! one step at a time!