i was super excited to see a friend a hadn't seen in months this past weekend. she's a killer hostest and always welcomes my pup (aka the 4-legged love of my life) over with me. she's one of those people i can tell anything to and, like it or not, i'm gonna get back brutal honesty. she's known about my struggles with anxiety since way back when and has always been a supportive structure in my life. so since we hadn't connected in awhile, we had much catching up to do and something she was very interested in was seeing how i was doing with my anxiety.
i lit up and told her i'd been panic attack free for almost 2 years, symptom free (pounding heart, shortness of breath, blurred vision, etc) and i was officially living it up in ways i was previously scared to (two amazing trips booked for the fall!). she was impressed and proud and asked me "so you never even feel anxious anymore?" -insert sound of screeching brakes-
i responded that i absolutely still get anxious, its an emotion. i can't turn it off any more than i could turn off happiness or sadness. what i did turn off is the crippling fear from it. yeah, i get anxious, but it no longer holds me back or escalates into life altering fear. and you guys know how i always share that i still sometimes get anxious in the mornings? well, i've never quit my early classes or turned down early sessions with clients due to the chance i could feel anxious. i used to RUN from whatever caused me even a hint of anxiety. she looked at my quizzically and said "so you're pretty much in the same place you always were with this."
it took me close to 10 years to develop that level of anxiety, the panic attacks, the loop of negative thoughts, the fear, the insecurity....
my healing journey is not one that happens at the flip of a switch! no one's journey is. we can't change overnight... at least, not a lasting change. it takes time to learn what works for us, what helps us alleviate our anxiety, for us to practice overcoming things that scare us, talking and sharing our experiences, learning to meditate or change negative thoughts to positive... oh my gosh! there's no way this happens overnight.
and this got me thinking.. how many people doubt their journey if it doesn't happen in the blink of an eye? how many people give up because they feel they'll "never get it." it took me almost a month before i could work through a panic attack and ward it off and many more months to stop being scared that one could "happen at any moment." we get used to thinking a certain way and dreading certain things, so we have to restructure our entire thought processes and perceptions. and we're not used to doing it. it shocked me that my friend interpreted slow and steady progress, for no progress.
so don't get frustrated if your journey is slower than you'd like it to be or different from someone else's. you are working on making positive, powerful and lasting changes in your life! please stick with it! find your outlets, track negative thoughts, practice positive ones and know that each step along the way is one to be celebrated! and above all else, don't let someone else's perceptions of your journey alter your own perceptions.