“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates.
Fear. Anxiety. Avoidance.
These three words have been at the forefront of my mind constantly the previous three months. It is a vicious cycle that I discover myself in and have an arduous task of navigating off.
I fear numerous aspects of life due to the consuming anxiety that debilitatingly cripples me daily. I struggle awfully to acquire the courage to leave the house, to alter my daily routine of cleaning, eating the same foods and adhering to the OCD propensities, to cease the comfort of familiarity and to attempt new things. Therefore, these manifested and lingering fears and anxieties promote the easy directional tasks of avoidance. Complete and utter avoidance.
Control. I adore control to the extent that my control on life, morphed into an eating disorder accompanied by fear, anxiety, OCD and depression. Who doesn’t like to control certain aspects of life every so often? Being in control of one’s path.
Avoidance and control are prominent in the the example whereby it is arranged for me to attend one Doctors appointment per week to ensure my vital signs, blood tests and mental state are monitored in some professional capacity due to my adamant desire to recover independently in the absence of any psychological assistance (whether this is the most conducive option to my health, I am yet to wholly understand or observe).
However, due to the newfound fears and anxieties of frequenting the local medical centre, as a result of my inability to make any sound progress, I have subsequently cancelled both appointments in the past two weeks. Avoidance was what I considered the undemanding option as such allowed me a sense of comfort, ease, serenity and assertion of diligently exercising my patient autonomy.
I am not suggesting that avoidance is a negative or positive attribute to possess, as utilising the mode of avoidance can benefit one immensely in certain circumstances.
This became imminent to me when I was to attend a new therapy method in a group setting two weeks ago on a Monday evening. I accepted to making an appearance and discovering how it would benefit me; immersing myself in a new environment, meeting new individuals and altering my severely structured routine. Throughout the day, my mind was informing me that “I can do this. I am attending this evening.” Whilst, there was the pestering, anxious voice in the not so distant background, reminding me that I should not attend, providing me with a plethora of scenarios and concepts of what could proceed incorrectly if I attended:
– What happens if no one will like / warm to you. You will be viewed as an outcast.
– What happens if you do not benefit from the meeting? It would have all been a waste of time!
– What happens if you venture outside of your evening routine? You won’t be able to satisfy your OCD tendencies?
– What happens if the meeting does not finish until late at night? Then how will you manage to eat dinner and relax?
– You will have to sit for two hours! This will alter how you look and how other perceive you. (FYI: I absolutely LOATHE sitting and avoid this at all costs, if humanly possible. See, avoidance is simply accessible and painless for me!!).
The voice tiresomely continued. Subsequently, that evening I did not attend as I allowed the darkening shadow of fear, anxiety and avoidance envelope me completely.
However, this was a new week, a shining, indomitable courage and mindset. I grappled with the thought and act of not frequenting the meeting once more, yet I decided to inhale deep breaths and negate all whirling statements established by fear and anxiety. They truly are their own entities; vibrantly alive, believing that they nurture one’s mind.
Oh how beautifully uncomplicated it would have been to remain at home in my comfortable clothes and surroundings, to have obligated to my normal routine, to have not put on a slight bit of make up, dress myself to a presentable standard, feel the cool metallic car keys in the grips of my fingers, to walk myself, one foot methodically in front of the other to the car and to not drive myself to the meeting ten minutes away. BUT…
Why do everything in life that is of familiarity? Why not challenge oneself every so often to confront those fears, anxieties and the likelihood of utter avoidance?
As an outcome, the new therapy method was not exactly to my preference; as I did not feel a connection was made to the process. No resonance was deeply felt. This to me proved adequate, as I could (and now can) stand confidently tall and proud of the feat I implemented to immerse myself in a new environment, attempting a new therapy style / technique and connecting with new individuals all whilst containing the overarching veil of fear and anxiety within.
As humans, the majority of us are creatures of habit, as it is a way in which we have been programmed. Admittedly, I do generously admire those spontaneous souls who allow their wings to spread and soar; being fearless to embrace life at every presented opportunity. Such a phenomenal gift!
Isn’t it great how we are all different in many aspects, especially in this respect?
By conquering the meeting this past week, I have realised that not every situation that we catastrophise about, necessarily prevails in the way we envisage it to. It is natural to experience and hold fear and anxiety in close proximity when placed in a different situation that causes one to be confronted by migrating significantly outside of one’s comfort zone. Avoidance is usually the most comfortable option, but is it the sensible option to make in order to develop, learn, grow and benefit oneself?
As the Goal Setting Theorist, Edwin Locke proposes, “Fear of change, fear of telling the truth, fear of being wrong, fear of being different, fear of thinking for oneself, fear of failure, fear of the subconscious and of knowing one’s own motives, fear of disappointment, fear of disapproval, fear of being hurt, fear of being vulnerable, fear of the new, and fear of standing up for one’s values.” All thwart our progression to act upon our true desires, passions and aspirations in life.
Comfort zones are beautiful spaces, congruent with feeling light, nimble, serene and unsurpassable, but they are also a location of stagnation and control. Is it healthy to be stagnant and control all constantly?
Maybe instead of focusing on what could eventuate incorrectly, we should be fixated on how all could proceed in our favour?
Control and certainty in life are wonderful to acquire and experience. However, not all in life can be controlled nor is everything completely certain. Thus, why do we continue our lives with this control when it is not serving us to be or reach our full potential in life?
We must accept that not everything in life is consistently going to be sunshine, rainbows and daisies and this fact is ok as there will be times when control and certainty are possible.
Why should we be commanded by the fears and anxieties which keep up shackled to the confines of our comfort zones? Why reside in a cage without an exit or windows, when we could be exploring the open expanse breathing every ounce of life into our souls?
Let us dispute our fears and anxieties often. No challenging act is to be implemented every day, as the fear and anxiety will only become amplified and avoidance the only possible outcome. Rather, let us say an uproarious “yes!” to attending a work / therapy meeting, a gathering with family and friends, changing our daily routines / structures, conversing with others, getting outside of the house to immerse oneself in different settings and making human connections.
If we can each confront the exhausting fears and anxieties, whether largely or minutely (All progress is progress!! Be kind to yourself!), imagine how amazing one will feel and how belittled the sneering voices of fear and anxiety will become, just as they reduce one to feeling insignificant and defeated; deflated.
Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.
Feel empowered in all that you are and all that you implement.
Life is to be loved and lived abundantly. Let us feel renewed, invigorated and whole as an outcome of staring fear, anxiety and avoidance directly in the eye.
We have the upmost authority to remember that there is something good to be discovered in every day.
Fear and anxiety will always be part of life. Their presence is ineluctable. Yet, if we can relinquish their controlled attachment, the beauty and freedom of life will enter.
All of my hugs, thoughts and love always,
P.S. the spiral indicates the process of continuing to progress and ascend, as opposed to remaining stagnant in one’s comfort zone. It allows one to traverse the intricacies and beauty of life. The spiral is also closely related to the Buddhist symbol of serenity; feeling at peace when furthering oneself in life and not allowing one to become trapped or restricted by the living fears and anxieties. The finger print depicts our individuality and unique journeys, travelling our way upwards of the spiral and experiencing the wonders of life at our own pace.
Are you part of me or entirely who I am?
Am I your survivor, worshipper or are you mine?
How much authority am I entitled to?
In your absence, I am lifeless.
A disenchanted soul without a purpose.
You captivatingly envelope me.
Holding and embracing me intimately,
With every ounce of your energy,
Seizing any opportunity.
Your warmth is deeply alluring,
Like a romance I cannot untwine from.
You are elusive, intangible yet whole,
Your name lingers, tenderly on my lips,
Is firmly imprinted on my beating heart,
Written in my deep, seething veins, and
You penetrate my ethereal soul.