It’s been said that a problem cannot be dealt with until you know it is there. That was certainly the case for me and my lifelong issue with anxiety. I was completely unaware of the anxiety I dealt with well into my adulthood. However, I was completely aware of the traumatic things I’d witnessed that were at the root of it.
I witnessed domestic violence when I was very young and I remained a very fearful child well after the immediate danger had been removed from my life. The fear grew until it became the backdrop against which I measured everything. As a result, my relationships with other people were impacted as well. Perhaps the most stinging memory from that time in my life was someone whom I’d considered a good friend telling me she felt she didn’t know me at all because I wouldn’t let her get close.
I had the wisdom to seek out some therapy, and I was able to process a bit of the early events that had led to the deep seated fear. Still, the anxiety went unnoticed and untreated. The first person to recognize my anxiety was my husband. I refused to believe him at first because I felt he was labeling me. He was telling me what he saw because he loved me, but all I heard was, “Something is wrong with you.”
I remained in denial until a series of events uprooted our lives and our routine, making it impossible for me to ignore what was going on with me. Since I was pregnant with our first child at the time (one of the happier surprises during that period), I decided to go see a therapist to sort things out. I am so glad that I did.
Talking with my therapist gave me a much needed respite. I was concerned about being labeled and told to take a lot medications, but I felt I needed to be the best mother I could be and seek the help of a professional, even if the process made me uncomfortable. My therapist said that my main need was simply to be heard.
I’ve been told that anxiety is anger turned inward. When I consider the helplessness I felt as a child when I witnessed abuse between the people I loved most, I can certainly say that was true in my case. My therapist and I decided together that the goal of my treatment would be finding my own voice. I couldn’t speak up when I experienced trauma as a child, but as an adult, I could learn to assert myself and set boundaries that would help me to heal.
Since that rocky time in my life that revealed the anxiety issue, I have grown leaps and bounds. Here are a few of the steps I’ve taken to deal with anxiety naturally.
- I imagine just how bad it could be if the thing I fear came true. I believe I first read about this technique in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. When I imagine just how bad a situation could get, it gives me perspective as I realize that I can handle the worst. To date, nothing has ever been as bad as I feared it would be.
- I began to use daily affirmations. The first time I tried affirmations was in high school as a half-hearted attempt to manage my weight. I credit Dee Dee Lefrak, famed San Francisco artist, mentor, and friend, for introducing me to Louise Hay, the modern mother of affirmations. Affirmations are a very powerful tool when used correctly.
- I learned to “pull my own strings”. That phrase is from a popular book written by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, another resource provided to me by Dee Dee Lefrak, whose books “Your Erroneous Zones” and “Pulling Your Own Strings” are foundational texts for Assertiveness Training 101.
- When I have a difficult event ahead of me, such as an interaction with someone who has unapologetically harmed me in the past, I remind myself that, “this, too, shall pass”. I visualize my “happy place” or something better that will eventually follow the thing I dread as a reminder that life always does move on.
- I’ve made a commitment to forgive myself. I’m not perfect. It would be false to say I never have anxious moments anymore because I have slip ups from time to time. When my self-care is lacking, I have even gone on “anxiety benders”, so to speak. The important thing is, I am getting better at recognizing the beginning of an episode and stopping the behavior in its tracks.
- I use essential oils and supplements to balance my moods. Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that is still used today to assist the body with all kinds of functions. Many people have found that essential oils are a great support for a variety of emotions.
I am no longer ashamed to talk about the anxiety I dealt with most of my life. I love helping others and I feel so good when I am able to share my story with someone who is suffering from anxiety. It can get better, when you have the right tools to help.
About the Author
Tiffany Ingle is a stay at home wife and mompreneur with a passion for wellness. To read more of her work, visit her blog https://pearlsofwisdomwellness.wordpress.com/