Something I learned very early on having anxiety was to not set goals based on OCD. This lesson was extremely important for me to learn. I used to make decisions based on what I believed I could do within the limits of my anxiety. I shifted my focus to believe I could do anything. Suddenly, I felt much more confident when confronting challenges that gave me anxiety. I want to say that I’m speaking out of my own experience. Anxiety is very real but this is how I’ve overcome a lot of my fears and been able to live outside of the boundaries my OCD set.
Shifting your mindset is incredibly difficult. When I would get opportunities in the past, my first thought would be “how can I accommodate my anxiety?” I think that’s incredibly important to respect your limits and boundaries. I also think for me, without realizing that those boundaries never served me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This was a gradual process for me. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “my anxiety can’t touch me anymore.” Even now, I still have to deal with my anxiety.
The point of what I’m saying isn’t meant to have you believe that I’m now anxiety free. I’m not. I still seek treatment to deal with my anxiety weekly. That’s part of the process though. I am at a point in treatment where anxiety doesn’t control any aspect of my life. It impacts my life and becomes difficult to deal with, but I don’t meet the same criteria I did a year ago. That’s a huge difference.
At my worst, my OCD intrusive thoughts impacted my every moment of every day. I would have severe panic all the time. I changed my behavior in order to ensure my safety. Every choice I made was out of fear. So how did I get from that place to this place? A lot of therapy. Along with that though, I found Buddhism and gratitude. I gave myself compassion and found confidence in my sense of self. I worked on every aspect of myself holistically. I’m not perfect, like I said, I still struggle but not even close to the way I used to.
I’m reflecting on this today because we’re coming into a new year. I am getting ready to set my goals for 2021. When setting those goals, I’m going to focus on what I want to do. I won’t take into consideration what I think I can or can’t do within the bounds of my anxiety. I am going to make broad stroke goals and work up towards them. That doesn’t mean I won’t experience intense amounts of anxiety along the way. I anticipate having to do exposure therapy at every step along the way. I’m prepared to challenge myself. I’m at a place where that is possible.
I didn’t start at a place where challenging myself was possible. It’s about working to get to that place. Every step along the way you have to do what scares you. Prove to your brain that you can do it because you can. That doesn’t mean it won’t cause panic or be terrifying. It may suck in the moment but at the end, you can look back and say “I just did that.” That is an incredible feeling.
I hope everyone is having an amazing day. I hope it’s filled with joy, laughter and positivity. I hope you find peace, love and happiness.