Anxiety is a Liar - Overcoming by celebrating
Celebrating my achievements!
A few years ago I went on a holiday with some friends and I was so anxious about going, it was completely out of my comfort zone. I spent months in the run up going over possible scenarios in my mind, mostly considering how anxious I was going to feel. On the holiday I did have anxious moments but I plucked up the courage to tell one of the friends I was travelling with. Just before going out to dinner in the evenings, I would get really anxious, so I would tell her. We didn’t talk about it for ages, but it felt good not to be alone in it. One night near the end of the holiday we had just had a beautiful dinner and we were walking back to the car. She came over and whispered to me, “you have done so well, well done”. I could have cried! I had done so well, I had done it, I had overcome my anxiety to be there. Having someone appreciate actually how tough it had been and tell me how well I had done suddenly made me realise just how well I really had done. Not only that but that actually I had quite enjoyed my time there with them. It meant that when I got home at the end of the holiday I didn’t sit and reflect on how hard it had been in those moments, but actually how much I had achieved and how much I had enjoyed doing it.
If I go out when I feel like I just want to hide in a hole, then I deserve to be proud of myself. If I got out of bed when it felt like too much, then I should feel like I achieved something. If you went into a crowded room when you knew it would be a trigger for you and made it through even just for a short period of time, then that deserves recognition. Overcoming anxiety is all about those small steps and they are not insignificant or stupid just because “everyone else does those things every day”, They are breakthroughs and they should be celebrated!
When every day is a battle or every moment is a battle it’s really hard to see and be proud of your achievements. Mainly because you are pre-empting the next challenge. Relief from anxiety can sometimes be short, in the second that we have a breakthrough, our mind thinks of the next thing we are going to be anxious about. Breaking that pattern by choosing to focus on what I accomplish and not what I struggled with, makes those breakthroughs last longer and longer.
Celebrating successes helps:
- Create a mindset of success rather than failure, which anxiety is very good at;
- Not to allow anxiety to define our lives;
- To want more success by releasing dopamine into our brains, making us more likely to carry on conquering our anxiety;
- Remind us that life can be full of joy in spite of anxiety.
The more I do this the less I dread what is to come. Learning to see when I should celebrate my successes, has helped me to start seeing life as something to celebrate and given me the courage to step out more often. Anxiety can make us get so stuck in a certain way of thinking, that we forget to stop and realise how much the scenery around us has changed, or how much we have achieved. Choosing to recognise when you did well is like choosing to stop, have a look around and like what you see. Let's start celebrating our courage and defining our life experiences by the times we enjoyed and overcame, rather than the hour we hated.