You don’t always have to make sure everyone else is okay. This is a lesson that I once again had the opportunity to learn recently. I continue to put other people’s feelings before mine. And that continues to hurt me. I’ve always been the person who makes sure everyone else is comfortable or safe before I check on myself. I am constantly reminded that it is okay to put myself first. In fact, I should put myself first.
To be more specific, I’m talking anxiety-wise. If I am uncomfortable and anxious in a situation, I shouldn’t always stick my neck out to make others feel better. I think that anyone with anxiety is in a constant battle within their mind.
I’m uncomfortable driving this fast… I should tell them to slow down. But what if I tell them to slow down and it hurts their feelings… Don’t tell them to slow down.
After I have this argument with myself, I usually end up just letting the other person do what makes them happy. This is especially true if I’m with a person I’m not very comfortable around. Almost 100% of the time, in those cases, they can get away with doing whatever. If I am comfortable with you, it’s a different story. I’ll still have the argument in my mind, but I will usually make some sort of comment to let you know I’m uncomfortable, without being completely blunt.
And I’m struggling with the idea that it shouldn’t be that way for anxious people.
As an anxious person I’m always worried about what others are feeling. Back before I grew out of it, I was worried what others were thinking about me. Now my worries extend as far as just making sure everyone is okay, excluding myself from everyone.
If you ever find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in, don’t hesitate to get yourself out of it. Who cares if the other person is upset. You need to do what you have to in order to make yourself comfortable and happy. Figure out your limits and slowly learn to exceed them. You don’t have to do it overnight. Time is your best friend in this fight. And if you come across someone who disagrees with your efforts to better yourself, you don’t need them. The only thing they are doing is blocking your path.
This is something I’ve been slowly learning to do myself over the past couple of years. My last blog I talked about the news and how it made me feel. I felt like I was being pulled in different directions— not wanting to watch it, but doing so just in case they said something that could validate my worries. Now I can watch the news. I don’t make an effort to turn it on. But if someone happens to be watching it, I don’t ask them to change it. If I’m in public and it’s on, I don’t make sure I’m facing away from it. And now, I even check the news app on my phone daily. I’ve grown. It’s taken a very, very long time; but I’ve made progress in my life. Out of all the things I need to make progress on, the fact that I can say I took the time to move past the biggest fear I had growing up, says so much.
The point is, do what makes you comfortable. Push yourself to a limit that doesn’t hurt you. Over some time, that limit will continue to get bigger and bigger. Eventually you won’t even need to push yourself any further in order to find your limit again. Every situation is different— so is every fear. But the way you battle doesn’t have to change. You are strong and anxiety is just a stupid voice in your head trying to convince you otherwise.
The battle against anxiety is something you will have to deal with your entire life. The goal isn’t go get rid of anxiety. See, everything you worry about is stored inside your mind and kept there until you get rid of it. The goal is to take those worries out one-by-one and trash them. It’s impossible to do it all at once. But the relief you feel after taking just one of those away is immense. Once you start the process, you won’t want to stop. Because it’s a little jerk, the voice inside your head will never go away, but soon enough it will slowly start to quiet down. That’s all you can ask for.
Although you might feel like you are constantly up against some huge monster; a monster that just keeps knocking you down, giving you no opportunities to get back up. You have to keep telling yourself that this monster is weak. It is not stronger than you are. No matter how many times it’s knocked you down, you’ve gotten back up. And that’s what makes you stronger.