Anxiety or Fear: Calling a Spade a Spade
“I try to take one day at a time,
but sometimes several days attack me at once.”
We live in a stressful world, of that we might all agree. Talk of anxiety is common these days. Recently Gini Dietrich blogged about feeling stressed and the comments her post inspired were filled with the empathy of her followers. You’re stressed, I’m stressed; our lives are filled with stress. What can we do?
I know what we can do. I know because Bernardo told me.
Last Saturday night I was out of town visiting my sister and I couldn’t sleep. My heart was racing. Why? I searched for a reason and found it. It was my manuscript and the thought of the gazillion things I needed to do before the launch in September.
I sat up, turned on the lamp beside the bed, reached for my journal and scribbled out yet another schedule of To Do’s to add the the many versions already written in my calendar and on pieces of paper on my desk at home.
I turned off the lamp and laid down. I still felt anxiety. I breathed slowly to calm myself but it was still there. What was going on?
It was then I remembered something Bernardo said about stress and fear so I asked myself, “What are you afraid of?” This was a different question. Was I afraid I wouldn’t get everything done? No. I’d make sure I’d get everything done. Was I afraid no one would buy my book? Maybe only one person would and that person’s life would be changed. That would be OK. If just one person read my book and was happier…
I don’t remember what happened after that because I fell asleep.
When we call it “anxiety”, we’re victims of it and there’s nothing we can do. Anxiety is a static condition – paralyzing and dis-empowering. When we call it “fear”, we can take productive action. We can identify what it is we’re afraid of and figure out what to do about it. Here are the questions I’m going to ask myself for the rest of my life when I am feeling anxiety.
1. What am I afraid of?
2. What am I going to do about it?
There is power in that little word, “do”. Having a strategy to deal with different outcomes means you’re not paralyzed by your anxiety, but moving forward despite your fear. You always have the power to do something, even if what you do is pray. Call it what it is – fear. Don’t be stressed, be afraid! Then you can do something about it.
Do you ever have anxiety? How do you handle it?
photo credit: Catherine