Friend: "Hiya! How are you?"
Us: Yeah, I'm really good thanks"
(Anxiety: "No she isn't! She's in absolute turmoil and she doesn't know why!")
Friend: "So what have you been up to? I haven't seen you for a while!"
Us: "Oh, I've been really busy with the kids and work and.. erm.. just lots of things really"
(Anxiety: "Yeah, she has! Busy trying to get me to leave her alone!")
Us: "How about you?"
Friend: "Lots to tell you! I've been really successful at work and we've had so many great nights out with the team.. and I've started a book club and we all get together at mine with wine and nibbles and it always gets to the point where we're not even talking about the books.........."
(Anxiety: "She's not even listening! She wants to but she needs to get away from you..!")
Friend: "We should really meet for coffee to catch up. How about Saturday?"
Us: "Yeah.. erm.. that would be really nice. I'll send you a message to arrange a time"
(Anxiety: "She won't! She is far too consumed with me to make time for you!")
Anxiety sufferers are liars. Wait..... I mean that in the best possible term. Not full on pathological liars, but the kind who tell white lies to protect themselves from feelings of embarrassment, failure, judgement, inferiority.
Why do we do it?
Because we don't want to burden anyone with our problems. We don't want to be perceived as weak. We aren't weak by the way, I will tell you that for nothing! But we don't want successful non-anxiety ridden people to think we are. So we mirror. We mirror what the other person is saying and try to match them in terms of being 'interesting'. When all the while we just want the ground to open up and swallow us whole! And often when we reach our safe place, we will think and think and overthink and think some more!
"Did they notice I was anxious?"
"Did they believe me when I said I was fine?"
"Could they sense my mind was elsewhere?"
"Oh, god! Did they think I was rude??"
"I didn't mean to be! I hope I wasn't! I don't want to be this way!"
"Why didn't I just say I've not been great?"
In reality, they would just be going about their day happily expecting to meet up for a coffee at the weekend.
I have been in situations where I have been stopped in the street by a friend and I have literally wanted to run in the opposite direction. Not because I didn't want to speak to them. But because I was ashamed of myself. For being hostess to anxiety! Incase they noticed. Incase I made it obvious. Incase they judged me or even worse, if I judged me. Incase I compared myself to them. It sounds far fetched but it's very real to the anxiety sufferer. We want to be social but we want to be alone. We want to laugh but we want to cry. We want to say we are OK and truly mean it, you know. Often I have cancelled coffee meetings because I just couldn't face it. The excuse would always be vague - "I'm sorry, I can't make it today. But we'll arrange again as soon as poss!" The fact is, I just couldn't go. I didn't want to pretend for an hour. I didn't want to disclose my anxiety either. So it was best for me and best for them, right? Maybe. But it became a habit. Which makes things worse because we stop getting invited. Which then creates more questions.
"Why wasn't I invited?"
"Don't they like me?"
"Am I not interesting enough?"
When really, it is just because we never fulfil our 'dates'.
Anxiety often manifests in this way. What is a normal conversation to someone else may have a profound impact on the anxiety sufferer. And that's no-ones fault. It is, however, something that needs to be addressed and worked on. But how?
Self-love and self-care. That is how.
The first thing is to address any underlying issues that may be eating away at our minds. That could be anything from work to relationships to self perception. The underlying issues need to be put to bed before any work which will have any benefit can be started. Think of an issue that eats into your daily thoughts. Ask yourself how you intend to deal with this thought and put your plan into action. Ask the questions. Even if you don't like the answers, at least you will be able to tick it off your list. Next, accept it, believe it and move on. And never go back to it. This is the hard part. We can torment ourselves to the point of committal if we continue to go over and over old ground. But its an absolute must if we want to be successful on our self-help journey.
Now you've dealt with your underlying issues, it's time to take a real good look at yourself. Whaddya like about yourself? Your smile? Yes? Do it more.
What do you want to be when you grow up? (that was a rubbish joke, sorry!). What goals and achievements do you have in your mind that you would like to strive for? Do the course you've been putting off. Read up on starting a biz! Whatever it is, start from the bottom and don't stop until you get to the top.
Do you like your hair colour? No? Change it.
Do you like your weight? No? Put things in place, such as healthy eating, exercise, taking daily vitamins and drinking 2 litres of water per day. The results will be steady but you'll get there.
It is only when we are truly happy with ourselves, our achievements, our positive approach to life as we know it, that we can stop the lies! So when someone asks us how we are doing, we can whole heartedly, genuinely and brutally honestly reply with:
"I AM GREAT!"
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be so in-love with how we have evolved, so much so that we have never been more truthful about how we are?
Start today. Let's create a happier, truthful, more confident self.
If you ever need me, I'm here.
Lotsa love as always