Dear Anxiety: A letter to my anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

We meet again Anxiety. Thank you for dropping by. No really, thank you. I am using a different tactic this time – I hope you’ll understand and be patient whilst I try to work with you, and not against you. Let’s see how it goes shall we?

See, Anxiety, I think I understand your game. You aren’t this big, strong, overwhelming force really are you? No, I think the truth is, you’re just a bit scared, and perhaps, you just need to be heard.

In the past, when you’ve come along I’ve been in a place where I’ve handed over the driver’s seat. I’ve mistakenly assumed that your loud persistent voice means you know what you’re doing. And whilst I no longer doubt for a second that you aren’t just here to try to help me, I think we can work together. Maybe I can continue with the driving, I’ll have my trusty navigator beside me and you can just hang out in the back seat, there to raise alarm if it’s needed. I’m not going to kick you out of the car completely – because I do think that you have some value.

Hear me out?

I see that you’re terribly scared Anxiety. You are living in a body that has been stretched the last 6 weeks or so, and perhaps hasn’t been taken care of as well as normal. That freaks you out doesn’t it? I understand. So, you’re living in this body and you are seeing the to do list in front of you, you are standing back and taking stock of everything you need to do, now and in the near future, everything we need to achieve together – and it’s too much, isn’t it?

I can see what you are trying to do.

I think, when it is too much you get louder and louder until I take notice of you. You try to put the brakes on by telling me that all of this is impossible, that I won’t be able to achieve it. You see danger ahead and you are throwing up the STOP signs left, right and centre. The resistance, the procrastination and when those don’t work – you go to town on my body with the nausea, the shakes and that feeling in the pit of my stomach which tries to tell me ‘everything is not going to be ok’. And in response – in an already tired body and disheartened spirit – I try to fight back, as hard as I possibly can.

Well, Anxiety, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?

And I’m not so sure it’s worked out that well in that past. So, we’re going to take a different approach. I’m not fighting you this time, it is not worth the little energy I have. No, this time I’m going to be gentle with you, this time I’m going to listen to what you have to say, take it with a pinch of salt, reminding myself that these thoughts and worries are coming from a very scared place. I will not dismiss you, but I also wont be letting you rule the show. I’m going to be nice to you. I’m going to take care of you, and in doing so, take care of myself. How does that sound? Let’s be honest – it’s exhausting being anxious – don’t you want a bit of a break? Don’t you want to take that back seat for a while?

Thank you, Anxiety.

No really, Thank you. I appreciate you popping in and I appreciate your warning. You’ve done your job, wonderfully. You’ve shown me the warning signs and you’ve shown me that I have indeed pushed myself over the last six weeks and that the outlook isn’t looking like much of an easy ride either. This much I will take from you, this is the part of your message I will listen to.

But Anxiety, I’m afraid the rest of it we don’t agree on.

Despite your requests getting louder and louder; I won’t be working more, I won’t be sacrificing my evenings or weekends. There is time for self-care and sleep. And to meet up with those I love. You’ve shown me that in our little car, we’ve reached a junction on our journey, and in both directions there is some difficult terrain ahead and I have two options.

I can either listen to your voice and convince myself that I am not capable of navigating this terrain and thus, need you to take over, whilst spending the rest of the journey fighting you because I’m not entirely convinced that in your scared state you are the best for the job. Or, I can say thank you for the warning, but choose to remain the driver on this journey. To have faith in myself and my training, to take the route where self-care, friends and health are priorities, to forge ahead with you on board but not in charge. That sounds better to me.

So, thank you for your message.

You are not being dismissed, I will take care of you. I hear that you are scared, but I’ve acknowledged you and I am listening to you. You don’t need to keep me up at night or keep trying to get my attention – you have it, I promise.

There are other ways of doing this now – I’m sure you’ll get used to them and I have confidence that they will be better. I’m trusting your messages so can you trust my actions?

Love, Tam x

2 thoughts on “Dear Anxiety: A letter to my anxiety

  1. Leonardo says:

    I hope you’re getting along well with your “little friend”! It may be hard, but I believe the effor is worth fighting for. I shall take your talk as an advice my anxious friend as well and try to move to a healthy relationship.

    Thank you for those words!

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