A year is a long time to develop a different way of being. But after living 43 years of fear leading the way I was ready for things to be different. Life has changed, or not so much life has changed…I have changed.
A Year of Change
Fear was the only thing I knew. I didn’t know how bad it was until it started to subside. The thoughts were constant, the physiological bodily sensations were ever-present, the frustration, anger, jealousy, self-criticism were always just below the surface ready to be ignited at any moment. Even as a child I found my fear was my constant guide. I learnt early on that because of the intensity of the fear that I had, I’d better let it navigate through life for me because I dare not ignore it. It was so strong it felt sensible to listen to it. After all, I was too scared of the ‘what if’ outcome if I didn’t listen. But there is a way out of the fear – I have found a way out.
This article is a piece of me, a vulnerable act of soul-sharing in the hope that it might help someone else. I never thought I would get to the other side of this mountain and see the beauty beyond it. I never imagined that I would be able to say that I have transformed my life and how I see the world. I never thought I could stop the pain of the repeated nonsense of fear to a level that is incomprehensible to most. But for those of you who are relating to this level of fear being present in your lives right now, there is a way out.
Finding a way in
The way out for me was finding a way in. A way into the soul and the peace within you that tames the mind and its thoughts and gives you a new perspective on life. Free from guilt, self-criticism, and constant daily fear. What is most important to remember is that YOU are the master of you…YOU CAN do it because if I can…you absolutely can.
I was born a sensitive soul. It doesn’t mean I have never made mistakes, but generally, throughout life, I have tried to be kind to others. In the process of researching personality types and why I feel the way I do, I discovered that I fall into the category of being a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ (HSP, please look up Elaine N Aron PhD if you are interested in finding out more about this, there are free tests for this online also).
In addition to this, I am also an empath. An empath is a person with high levels of empathy who has the ability to feel not only their own emotions but the emotions of others. It means being in large groups of people can be exhilarating (if the energy of the room is positive) but it can also be exhausting (if the energy of the room is mainly negative). Both outcomes were draining on my personal energy levels. Coming to the realisation of these two things helped me understand myself so much better. It made me realise that there isn’t something wrong with me, it is just that my personality and emotional sensing radar are more sensitive than others. I no longer see this as a negative, but a gift given to me to use to help others.
This discovery has shed light on the person I was as a child and why I may have felt different to other people. I was often more concerned with other people’s feelings than my own and I took things to heart easily. My emotions were easily knocked and I felt the highs and lows of emotions that other people close to me were feeling. I have often avoided confrontation because the intensity of feeling my own emotions along with the emotions of those around me was too much to take. Unfortunately though, life isn’t without its ripples. It was exhausting.
I had no idea until I was into my 20s that it wasn’t normal to feel the levels of fear that I was experiencing. I was rarely invested in the present moment; my mind was always directing my attention to thoughts about the past, or the future. I rarely fully processed each moment of each day. My eyes were seeing what was happening but my mind was on a totally different running commentary to distract me. There are events and experiences in my life that I can’t even remember because, at times when my anxiety was really high, I think I was unable to fully process and store the information in my memory.
Trying to please everyone else made me ill
I learnt early on how to be a people-pleaser which I now know was led by fear of rejection. This grew over time so that over the years of childhood, adolescence and then into adulthood, I lost who I truly was, as I was always trying to be who I thought others needed me to be. It seems so sad now when I look back that I wasn’t able to be my authentic self. It got to the point where I lost myself completely. The effort of trying so hard to be who I thought others needed me to be, and not being my true self, was too much.
In my mid-20s, depression had taken hold along with the anxiety, it was time to stop, take stock, slow down and breathe. My depression I think was caused by me never feeling good enough to just be who I really was. Always having to try so hard to be accepted and liked. This effort I put into all my relationships took its toll on me. I remember listening to Jim Carrey in an interview and he described being depressed as ‘deep rest’. This resonated with me, I think the times I have had depression it was my bodies way of grabbing my attention and needing me to do something about my situation.
A new dawn
Carry on another 20 years and this takes me to last summer. Being 43 years of age, a mum and a wife and thinking that fulfilling those roles properly was to put everyone else before me. Don’t get me wrong my children are my world, I would do anything for them, but being everything to everyone and nothing to myself was having a further detrimental effect on my already fragile mental health. Pretending that you are looking after yourself properly but you really aren’t.
Feeling guilty for prioritising yourself and your needs before your children’s because that is what a ‘good’ mum should do, right? How wrong was I? In the process of trying to be what I thought a good mum should be, I ended up running on an empty fuel tank, feeling emotionally drained and not coping with anything well. I suffered and because of my anxiety, so did my family. My physical health was starting to suffer and my emotions were all over the place. Resentment was starting to set in. I had two years of heart palpitations that I ignored. The palpitations were so bad some days I felt light-headed. I then discovered my blood pressure was higher than it should be. I panicked. I broke down. My body was warning me again. Wake up, take stock, slow down and breathe.
This time I listened. I started a small and steady self-care routine. A walk along the coastal path or yoga in the house every day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to start introducing a huge amount of different things all at once so I started slowly. As time went on, I prioritised time to recharge my batteries and spent more time doing this on my own. Time to spend with myself to try and find out who the real me was. A time of self-discovery.
This is where my spiritual path began and my awakening process (which is what has helped my anxiety) continues. I slowly came round to the idea that my emotions are no one’s responsibility except my own. I am the only one that can change. I can’t blame others’ behaviour for how I feel, it is my choice to react to situations or not. This place of self-responsibility, of looking inwards into myself, has not been easy, but it has created a wonderful sense of peace in my life. It has made me understand who ‘I’ am and that I am enough. I am completely accepting of myself and have developed self-love which I wasn’t able to do before. Ultimately it has made me be able to manage my anxiety more successfully than I ever have done before and my emotions are now stable. This is an amazing feeling and one which is new to me.
Over to you…
How does all this information help you? If I can help one person to realise that personal inner change IS possible and that they don’t have to suffer years of repeated patterns of anxiety, negative thought patterns and critical self-talk, I will be so happy. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to change the way I think, to have drastically outweighed positive to negative thoughts, to have a calm inner state that means my emotions are stable. This magical transformation is possible for each and every one of you. If I can transform my life then you can too, one step at a time.
If you are reading this and already know that something needs to change inside you, please believe me when I say that YOU are the master of you, YOU are in control, YOU CAN CHANGE.
I believe in you.