Anxiety always used to scare me. It felt like something bad was happening in my body, messing with my thoughts and making my heart pound out of my chest. Then I realized that it can actually be a good thing because it’s trying to tell me when I’m going the wrong way in life. Here are 11 things anxiety has taught me.
I was losing myself in a relationship. I would sacrifice a lot in relationships, giving so much of my time and energy to make them work that I started to lose myself and not even realize it. My anxiety started buzzing. I believe it was telling me to focus on myself! It took a lot of panic attacks to finally make me see that I had to focus on myself for a change.
I needed to stop working so hard. I used to work all the time, even on weekends and public holidays. It was quite stressful and I became constantly anxious because of it. It took a debilitating migraine from stress to make me realize what I was doing to my body. Insane.
I was ignoring what I really wanted. I used to be a yes woman in relationships. I’d agree to things just to make my partner happy even if I was secretly seething. My anxiety rose up and it was an internal rebellion to get me to realize that I was screwing myself over. I wish I’d listened instead of wasting time being in an unsatisfying relationship for six months, but hindsight is always 20/20…
I was being played. My BF used to say I could trust him wholeheartedly but something just didn’t feel right. I was feeling anxious all the time and I was plagued with doubts about him. I decided to put my feelings aside and believe him. Turns out, my anxiety was really trying to tell me to wake up and smell the deceit. He was cheating on me. Amazingly, when I ended that relationship, I became so much calmer.
I didn’t want to be with my ex anymore. I knew deep down that I didn’t want to be with my ex anymore but I stayed in the relationship because I didn’t want to give up on it. I thought that would make me miss out on something. What I didn’t factor into my decision was that staying with him turned me into a depressed, anxious person. What’s the point of that?
I needed to find my purpose. Sometimes I’d have a strangely unsettled feeling that something was off about my life. I didn’t know what it was until I had a huge panic attack and I realized that I had to stop and try to find what was missing in my life. So instead of jumping into a new relationship, I took a year off to focus on myself and what I really wanted out of life. It was amazing to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted whenever I pleased.
I needed to be more creative. When I’m not creating things, I don’t feel right. As researcher Brene Brown once said, “Unused creativity is not benign.” That’s so true for me! During periods when I wasn’t being creative, I started feeling anxious and restless. It was my soul’s way of telling me there was more to be gained from life than simply working hard and paying the bills.
I needed space. I used to hate the idea of having personal space in my relationship. Crazily, I thought that it was a bad sign, like there was something wrong between my partner and me. When I’d start to feel fidgety and anxious during my last relationship, I realized I just needed to be alone with my own thoughts once in a while. In fact, it was necessary for me to do so to stay sane and make the right life choices.
I had to leave my toxic boyfriend. I loved the idea of being in a relationship more than the guy I was actually dating. That was a difficult truth to swallow and I didn’t want to face it, so I stuffed it away and tried to enjoy my relationship. The only catch is that anxiety wouldn’t allow me to. It kept pestering me, keeping me up every night with wild panic attacks, trying to alert me to the fact that I was unhappy and it wasn’t because I was depressed but because the person I was with was toxic.
I needed to do something. Sometimes the minute I stop obsessing about life and take the decision to make some big moves, my anxiety vanishes! It’s like it comes to me when I’m sitting around, worrying and fretting about making bad decisions and it kicks me up the butt. It says, “Do something! Anything! Go out there and live.” It teaches me that doing is better than not doing, every single time. Life’s not lived from the sidelines.
I had to see a pro. Sometimes my anxiety was so powerful that it made me afraid. I didn’t know why it was happening to me so much until finally, I decided to speak to a psychologist. It was one of the best things I could’ve done! Instead of being a sign of weakness, it was a sign of strength. I was taking control of my life again. Thanks to sessions with her, I learned that what anxiety was trying to tell me was that I had to focus on my inner child more. I had to get in tune with what I wanted, but I had stopped seeing life as an adventure, and that was sad. It was time to eat ice cream, run through sprinklers, and learn to live a little.
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