When I was in therapy on Monday I started listing all of the terrible things that I was sure were going to happen. “I’m scared I won’t be able to do all the work.”
“I’m afraid this person is going to think I’m stupid.”
“I’m worried that I will never follow my dreams.”
“What if they yell at me?”
“What if they make me cry?”
“They are always so mean and dishonest and condescending. I hate when people are condescending. I get it I’m young, but I’m not a child and I’m certainly not stupid. And it’s impossible to find an honest person. Why can’t people just be honest?”
After a good 25 minutes of this, my therapist looked at me and said, “do you know why all of those people are dishonest and condescending?” I squirmed on the sofa a little bit. I wasn’t really sure what to say; I wanted to yell “BECAUSE THEY ARE DISHONEST AND CONDESCENDING!!!!” She got that I wasn’t going to answer…so she continued, “you are focusing on what you don’t want and look what you’re creating, dishonest, condescending and mean people in your life.” She stood up and walked towards the door, I thought she was kicking me out, which would have been a relief because I was sure whatever she said next would mean I have work to do…but apparently, she was not. “You need to pivot,” she then executed a perfect dance-like pivot, “literally turn around and change what you’re thinking.” I thought, “that’s cute. Sure.” *cue massive eye roll*
I appreciated what she was saying but I kept thinking about how that felt impossible and too easy all at the same time and also how other peoples’ behavior is not my problem. Just changing my thought? Come on.
I went home and thought I’d give it a try regardless. If there was a shot at making work and life more joy-filled I owed myself that possibility at the very least. So, when I woke up at 3am and the scaries started in my head I repeated over and over “the call will be easy. Work will be fun. I will interact with positive, kind, compassionate and understanding people. It will be a happy day. It will be fun.” I repeated it over and over and over until about an hour later I fell asleep. I kept fighting the urge to freak out and start pacing because that would have been the easier thing to do. It’s easier to give in to the scary voice in my head telling me everything that my ego feeds off of. I needed to slay the dragon in my head. Anxiety can feel crushing at times. It takes over, makes my heart pound, makes my chest tight, has even landed me in the ER, so when it starts bubbling up it’s easier to go with it and let the scary take over. It’s easier to beat myself down than it is to build myself up.
Changing your thought is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done (and it’s Friday and I only started on Monday). But if I can focus on how I want things to look in my life it actually works. The next day was fun. The calls were easy. The people I spoke to were kind and compassionate and I took things in stride. (I’m really not making this up, I promise.) I hourly did my 30-second breath and spoke to myself calmly and positively when the scaries started to attack. It is a constant battle against the dragon. In fact, it’s more like whack-a-mole. But the more I do it the more it works. I understand that everyone knows about the “law of attraction” and everyone is like “yeah! I’m changing my own reality!” Just because they know what it is, but are they really? It’s a simple sentence that actually implies hours of work, concentration, meditation and fighting my own anxious instincts.
Yes, it still feels good to cry sometimes, no, I will not ignore my own emotions nor will I cease working through my pain, but it helps ground me in the new reality that I am creating for myself. I am building my world one thought at a time. I am exhausted, but I am building and I will keep building until I live in a world that is what I want to be. I will power myself up so that I can help others power up. So that we are strong enough to create change in the whole world with our thoughts, which then manifest themselves in our actions. The dragon comes and it feels dark and lonely and it’s the perfect place for anxiety to come and grab you and take you away. But please don’t let it. Work, build, change your thoughts. Ask for help. I want to help. We can do this together because I’m still figuring this out too. If we all worked to change our own reality maybe we could make the world a more understanding, compassionate place. That is worth whacking the mole and slaying the dragon, don’t you think?