Anxiety has lived with me for many years. I have read a mountain of books on the subject from psychology, self help to spirituality and akashic records. As well as a Master’s degree in CBT I started but didn’t finish.
The emotions of anxiety include emotional pain. The pain of being stuck in a holding of “I can’t”. ” I can’t tell them how I feel, I can’t express myself enough, I can’t put myself up for that speech and so I can’t do that job”. These were not feelings brought about by others they were limitations of myself. I felt held and stuck and in pain. The moment I felt a change was when I took a small step. “I can’t do the speech in front of so many people, but what if I took one small step towards speaking up. I can’t be heard in the team but what can I do to establish my boundaries”. Small steps to the land of becoming created a small success in belonging. In my own way I experimented with challenge (with some anxiety) and saw success of achieving movement out from within the pain.
The phrase you can’t eat an elephant in one go was my mantra. What smaller steps can I make? In the words of Sandra Ingerman, “taking small steps to climb a mountain will get you there just as surely as taking giant leaps. And the steps will also allow you to climb the mountain consciously as well as in your comfort range, keeping you in a state of balance and harmony” (Soul Retrieval 2011).
For me, the smaller steps were still challenging but manageable, they also required marking, like a reward to celebrate a new threshold reached. Celebrating myself for making the steps, however small where all part of the bigger journey. Marking these achievements was key as well as repetition. The advantage I see is that repeating the small steps creates a new perspective, a new development, a new wider comfort zone. And so the repetition becomes a habit and a routine from a new challenging moment some time ago. It gives me time to focus, refocus and repeat and do-over and so the competency develops into a competent confident skill. Small steps can be seen as wise steps where a repeating pattern creates comfort as well as individuality in the endeavour just like water wearing its way over rock to carve isn’t own way forwards. It may be a slow process but it becomes a less messy one. Nature shows us over and over that repetition creates growth. Think of that old oak tree every year discarding its leaves and reaching higher with new branches.
Rushing towards goals still has me sliding into the pain of anxiety. Knowing myself, within a relationship to myself, is also about knowing how I relate to my natural way of being in this life. It has also cultivated a compassionate approach to others and how anxiety feels when it is outside in the cold causing stagnancy and misunderstandings in all areas of life and relationships. Bringing anxiety into the inner circle of a compassionate relationship has become a way of reconnecting and understanding pain. Pain is not just a physical symptom, it is also emotional.