Regarding that title: I think I unintentionally just created a term for the state you experience after anxiety or maybe the anxiety you have surrounding blog posts. Either way, it’s perfect for today’s post! ;D
Full disclosure: I have an anxiety disorder and I’ve been experiencing a lot of self-doubt this week, particularly as it pertains to this blog.
I haven’t been able to write much this week because I’ve been waging a war in my own mind. Every time I sit down to write, my chest gets tight, my heart rate increases, and my head begins to fill with a thousand what ifs. Thinking of anything other than these anxious thoughts (nevermind trying to come up with post ideas) seems out of reach.
So, I’m showing my anxiety who the boss is and I’m turning my anxiety itself into a blog post. Ha!
I made a promise to myself when I started this blog that I would be a 100% open and transparent with my readers about the mental health challenges I face and how they affect my life. This week’s anxiety is definitely affecting my life.
Luckily, you don’t have to let your mental illness win!
My anxiety wants me to quit. My anxiety wants me to avoid taking chances and doing new things – because it’s “safe.” My anxiety thinks it’s protecting me, but it’s really only holding me back.
The funny thing I’ve learned about anxiety is that once you name it as just “anxiety” it has a lot less power over you. Sure, my mind has been swimming with a thousand thoughts like:
“What if my blog sucks? What if sharing my story triggers someone else? Will all of my photos suck until I can afford that $4,000 DSLR? Who am I to be preaching the intuitive eating gospel and telling other people what body positivity is, when I still struggle with it myself? There are so many lifestyle bloggers out there. Who is even going to care about anything I have to say? What if people think I’m copying them? What if people don’t think I’m ‘healthy enough?’ Are people going to be annoyed with all of my feelings out in the open like that? Are the people in my life going to view me differently? Should that matter? THIS IS ALL SO ANXIETY PROVOKING. IS IT EVEN WORTH IT?”
But, if I reframe it as:
“I’m having some anxious thoughts about starting this blog. I’m feeling self-doubt and am having thoughts that others may not receive my message the way I intend. My blog isn’t exactly where I want it to be yet and neither am I, and this is causing me to feel fearful and unconfident. I’m feeling some fear around how people I know will feel about what I write and am feeling afraid of exposing this vulnerable part of myself.”
it seems a little less harsh and a little easier to handle.
When I rephrase it this way, my anxiety is no longer this great demon that takes full control of my body and mind, paralyzing me from doing anything cool like starting a blog. Instead, it’s just this thing that happens from time to time that causes me to experience fear, thinks some things, and feel some feelings. I can anticipate that this will happen, but I can also anticipate that these thoughts and feelings will fade eventually. I just have to ride out the storm for a bit. Maybe breathe, do yoga, take a walk, or something?
The most useful tool I’ve found during of my recovery is that you can take negative thoughts like these and add the “I’m having the thought that – ” prefix to them.
This technique sounds a little strange at first, but it takes a negative thought like “I’m not good enough” to “I’m having the thought that I’m not good enough.”
This does one really important thing: It helps you check that assumption. (Remember: check yo’self, before you wreck yo’self!) It creates distance between you – an awesome, fierce warrior human – and that annoying anxiety that pushes the panic button for LITERALLY EVERYTHING. When you realize that it’s “just anxiety overreacting again,” it’s a lot easier to just sit with the feeling and ride it out until your rational self takes over.
It’s pretty damn empowering.
You can still wrestle with negative thoughts AND do cool things that scare you. (Hell yeah!) You can start blogs because you find writing cathartic, especially when the subject matter brings you so much joy. You can want to help others. You can do it just for yourself. You can be good at it, bad at it – or even better, a total work in progress, ALWAYS.
It’s ok, there are no rules. Don’t let your doubts tell you otherwise.