Journeying through Anxiety as a Healing Tool by Dawn Jepson

Publicly sharing my life in regard to anxiety is proving to be an interesting experience. Letting others read about aspects of my life, discussing some of the more personal questing I have done, is meant to offer somewhat of an understanding of not only my journey, but also to encourage others to be brave in more closely investigating anxiety as they are experiencing it. As a professional who helps others in dealing with anxious feelings (among other things), I am also a woman who copes with anxiety. The desire to disclose this truth of my life, along with parts of my life experiences that relate to feelings of anxiety, comes from a call to help others. Bluntly stated, anxiety has wreaked havoc with the quality of my life at times. I want a full and happy life and assume that there are others who also want that quality of life. As I look around me I see that we appear to be in a period of “anxiety explosion.“

There are many people frequently talking about their feelings of anxiousness. This, along with my own discomfort, has led me down the path of discovering the cause(s) of anxiety. In my exploration, I hope to learn what can be done about it and how I can become a source of relieving anxiety rather than being stuck in it. By sharing my personal experiences and thoughts surrounding anxiety I hope to be opening a door of exploration for others.

In my field of work I have always believed in walking my talk. If I recommend self-hypnosis for change, I use self-hypnosis for change. If I suggest eating healthfully and being active, I make sure that I too am following those practices. As the years have passed and my feelings of anxiety have blossomed, and as I have worked with others complaining of anxious feelings, it has led me to clearly realize that I needed to address my own anxiety coping practices, becoming more vigilant about helping myself to heal in regard to this issue. With this shared writing I hope that I can not only be more committed to my own practices of resolving my anxiety experience, but that I can also help others develop their own path of healing.

Oh the longing for sweet relief from the anxiety each early morning. Anxiety has appeared like clockwork to greet me every day for so long now. But before I can hope for relief, I seek an understanding of what is happening to me and what it means. Anxiety has become a fuel to encourage me to look at my life from different angles. What am I looking for as I examine and self-reflect? Change! First, I must make a couple of “trips“ … a visit or two to the past that requires a little honest digging, as well as a truthful viewing of the present.

Do I/Did I need to make amends for past behaviors? Perhaps.

Do I/Did I need to learn to say “yes” when I mean “yes” and “no” when I mean “no“ and not the other way around? For example; Stop saying, “Yes, I’ll do that”, when in my heart I don’t really want to, or “No I can’t go with you this weekend”, when every fiber of my being is begging me to take that step and GO!!! Perhaps this change would be wise.

Ignore what ails me and the anxiety grows and expands to such a loud shouting that I finally have to listen.

Fulfilling the expectations of others to the exclusion of my own personal desires leaves me feeling trapped and anxious. Certainly in life, along the way, we make some sacrifices, we give in, and we do what others enjoy and let go of what we are in the mood to do. But when these become patterns that are repeated chronically, it can become an self-defeating, ingrained habit. The result often becomes the growing, blossoming flower of anxiety.

That is why I mentioned change toward the beginning of this writing. Anxiety can offer us the knowledge, that wonderful wake up call - it is time for change! And then the exciting, and at times scary, exploration begins.

Often I have told clients that the difference between anxiety and excitement is a smile. I believe this to be true in many ways. This is one of the ways: as we discover the cause of our own anxious feelings, making the changes our inner life is craving, we are then able to smile with excitement - excitement at the chance of living life free and filled with all the joy that we do deserve.

To begin this powerful shift, I have had to acknowledge that the anxiety is there, asking for my attention. Then I have had to learn to sit with it. Sometimes this has required help. It has often meant sharing how I feel with trusted others who are willing to listen and tell me; “It’s ok, you can make it to the other side.” They may also offer wise counsel. There have been periods of time when the emotion of anxiety has become so powerful I have consulted with my carefully chosen medical doctor, asking for her ideas about how to cope or lessen the intensity of the anxious emotion. Sitting with strong emotions takes a brave person. Moving clearly and competently through each day with the monkey of anxiety on one’s back can be exhausting. Asking for help holds no shame.

As I move forward each day I am coming to know myself more and more. I am finding that through this journey with anxiety, through the exploration of my past and present, I am designing a life that I love, one that is built on a strong foundation of truth and integrity. I may not be all the way there yet and that’s okay - those are the experiences and stories still to come.