For many people who’ve had anxiety for a while, life becomes a game of hide and seek – hiding away from anything that might bring on an attack and seeking out situations where you feel safe from harm. The only trouble is that those safe places over time become fewer and farther between and the sofa or the duvet is the only sanctuary.
Avoidance is generally accepted as anxiety’s ingenious trick to bed down and get rooted in your psyche. It temporarily feels good not to have done that presentation in front of the whole company or not to have gone to that school reunion, but the end result is that your world of possibilities has shrunk to a suffocating prison. Not even the most anxious of us want that, right?
You are not defined by your anxiety
But it’s also very easy to make all the activities you still do be about feeling less anxious. So in my case. ‘Right – yoga. Yes that’s good for destressing. I should do that to be less anxious’. Somehow it just takes the joy out of things (particularly like me when I spend half the class worrying about what I’m going to say to everyone afterwards and will they notice that I’m still feeling anxious instead of calm and serene).
Silly your way out of anxiety
So my wish for you is to rediscover your joy or find a new one. But not in a functional way to ‘feel better’, but for the simple pleasure of doing it.
Maybe it is something you did when you were a child that to your adult self seems silly and daft. But quite frankly at this juncture in our anxious lives – the sillier the better. Silly is good. Silly is therapeutic and freeing.
I am at my happiest when I’m at my silliest and at my most miserable when I’m trying to appear normal, whatever ‘normal’ is.
If you’re silly in public you get the added benefit of ‘shame busting’ and boy does that feel good. I’ll never forget being forced to take the stage in an open mic evening, choosing to sing ‘New York, New York’ acapella. I forgot the words but kept going, soon realizing how great it felt to do it really badly and not give a shit.
But do something where it doesn’t matter how you do it. Just lose yourself in the act and flow into a new space of mind and being. And if you laugh or get laughed at the process, more’s the better.
But expand, don’t contract. We are expansive beings if we allow ourselves to be.
Just give yourself the permission to flow.