Winter is closing in. The anxiety struggle is about to step it up a notch.
It can be damn scary, right?
Last week I noticed some of my old anxiety and depression thought patterns creeping in. They were my classic fears of “I’m not good enough,” and “We’re not safe.” I spent many winters in the grips of those thought patterns, depressed and miserable and scared to death.
But the truth is, my fears are generic. It’s empty drama. I’m telling myself the scary stories that I’ve told a thousand times before. I know how to question them, break them down, and see the truth beyond them. The longer I spend working on them, the more natural it gets and the weaker they become. The next time they pop up, they’re much easier to deal with. Eventually they will stop coming up all together.
Your fears are generic and boring too, I promise you. I know you think your fears are especially serious and uniquely scary. You avoid looking at them head on. You catch a sideways glance of them creeping in, your heart starts freaking out, and you hide or you retreat. You distract yourself, or medicate yourself, or twist it around and blame it on someone else.
There are a lot of ways to not deal with it. You get mad at society, or angry with your family. You complain about your past or your health problems or the weather. You decide your husband doesn’t love you quite enough. You feel like you need a makeover. Or a new job. Or a new life.
If that sounds familiar and you think I’m talking about you, you’re right. I am. I’m talking about all of us.
Last week I could feel myself sliding back toward those bad habits of not dealing with it. I drove back home to check the space heater that my rational mind knew was fine. I got defensive when I should have tried to be understanding. I was retreating.
But I’ve come to understand that the faster and farther you retreat, the stronger your fears get. No matter how quiet you are cowering in your hole, the fear is always lingering just outside. Fear doesn’t leave you alone until you make it leave you alone.
So I’m done retreating. I’m done hiding. I’m showing up for battle this year with everything I have.
I know how the mind works now. I’m going to continue dismantling it piece by piece and putting it back together however I want, even when it gets scary. I know that I can purposely shift out of depression and anxiety and into peace in any moment I choose.
Julius Cesar said, “If you want to take the island, burn the boats.” I already decided this island belongs to me, and now I’m burning my boats to make sure I’ll never retreat.
If we’re going to take back our minds, we have to burn our escape routes, our distractions, our excuses, our scapegoats. We have to decide that we’re never turning back. We have to fight like our lives depend on it. Because life really does depend on it.
It means feeling afraid, feeling drawn into that familiar pattern of anger, compulsion, blame, or complaining, and then doing something else instead. It means refusing to give the power to anything or anyone outside of yourself. It means accepting that whatever happens in your body and mind can’t affect what’s in your heart unless you let it.
We’re going to do this.
We move at dawn. Every single day.
Are you ready?