It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about that nasty business called anxiety. How about an update?
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (Meet My Pet Monster: Social Anxiety) there is no cure for this. But a sufferer can learn to cope. Looking back on the past 3 years since I wrote this article – or going back even further – I can see I have learned to cope fairly well. At least, for the moment. It’s always lurking in the shadows, in the background, and surfaces at the most unwelcome times. I’m going to take a moment though and look at the winning moments instead of focusing on the failures. I am going to see the glass as half full for a moment and share with others what I’ve learned. My hope is it will help someone else along the way.
- I don’t keep my anxiety tucked away in a closet. It’s a part of me. I let it take the blame for my awkwardness. While we are at it, when did awkwardness become a death sentence anyway? Every person has awkward moments. True, for some of us it is our natural born talent. But nonetheless, it is not the end of the world to be uncomfortable for a second or even a minute. Learn to laugh it off. Or, do as I do, I blame it on my anxiety. Granted this is easier said than done but it has helped me during moments I want to slink away.
- Routine is key. Normally, I get restless and bored being in one spot too long. But I’ve been in this spot for 10 years. The longest I’ve stayed put since I’ve graduated high school. I’m familiar with people and things. It might even be safe to say, I contribute to my surroundings in some way. I’m trying to be less of a consumer and more of a giver.
- Say yes more often. I cannot say yes to every invitation yet but I am saying yes to a lot more than I used to. And you know what? I haven’t died from any social exposure yet. I’ll keep you posted on this if I do happen to die from too much socialness. The trick in this is the follow through. Saying yes isn’t that hard but actually showing up places is not easy. Luckily for me I have been taught and raised that my word is my bond type of thing. If I’m going to commit to something then I will be there. Plain and simple.
- I try to not let mute girl take my place. This requires me to make odd sounds and actually pay attention to conversations. I’m still the ‘quiet girl’ but I try not to be completely silent. And I try to not be annoyed or offended when someone tells me I’m quiet. Yeah, that’s my role. I’m the quiet girl.
- In the end, I can’t really take credit for any of my improvements. All of my coping skills have come about because I have learned to utilize the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My weaknesses are not strengths yet, but as I look back at my improvement the past years I can see they are not as heavy as they once were. By accepting difficult callings (difficult in the sense that they forced me out of my comfort zone) I have been able to sit in meetings, talk in meetings, conduct meetings, attend social events, mingle at such events, make small talk, visit teach by myself (still do not like to do that one – but I can do it), and volunteer for things at church. Like bringing food (though I still don’t like to do this either because I’m not a cook. But I can stop at the store and pick up a dozen cookies – and I don’t care if this is frowned upon because they aren’t homemade).One of my young women asked me, “Why doesn’t Jesus heal people today like He did in the New Testament?”I am thankful for the Atonement in my life.
- He does. However, healing is usually a process and not an instantaneous event. I have been in the healing process for years. And it’s working. Without the power of the Atonement I would still be curled into a figurative ball. Or worse, a literal ball of mess.
- Basically once I started looking at all I’ve been able to do I’ve impressed myself. The Atonement isn’t just cleansing. That is an important aspect to it but not all. It really is limitless in what it provides for us and it’s a hard thing to understand. Alma 7:11 says, “he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of the people.”
It’s good to look back and see how far we’ve come. I tend to focus on the long road ahead and how inadequate I am to travel it. But when I look back I can see how far I’ve come. So yeah, the journey may be long but I got this. I know I’m not traveling alone. And that makes all the difference.