Let’s talk about anxiety for a bit my friends. It started for me in about Junior High School. Just minor, you know the butterflies in the belly. The anxiousness when you have to get in front of the room. Over the course of the next nearly twenty years I allowed this anxiety, this anxiousness to build. I must say I thought it was normal, something everyone felt. Primarily for me it showed up in large networking situations and public speaking. I showed all the signs from butterflies in the belly to sweaty palms, ah, that drip of sweat down your back.
Who else has felt this?
During these experiences I worked hard to show confidence on the outside but man, I would question everything I said on the inside. Wondering if I said something stupid or what others would perceive as wrong. It was in about my mid to late twenties, I was building a great sales/leadership career and around every turn I would find myself questioning myself. As a high performing woman working to prove myself in corporate America the last thing, I wanted was for anyone to see my weaknesses. I continued to show all the positive, confidence, urgency, drive, ambition while that anxiety and second-guessing built bigger and bigger in my head. Worse, now as I look back, as all of these were building in my mind, I was questioning my own voice, my own thoughts. I’m sure I recognized it then but didn’t really realize how much it impacted me until my mid-thirties. This negatively impacted me in so many ways but mostly, confidence, confidence in showing up and being me. The one thing we should ALWAYS be able to do, be our true authentic, real selves!
As these years of second guessing and anxiousness continued to build, I was reinforcing very negative thoughts in my head (although I didn’t realize this at the time). I would be going to the front of a room to give a presentation and the entire time saying to myself, I am so nervous, or they are going to think I am stupid, what if I say something stupid. All of these dis-empowering thoughts, I was reinforcing to myself. The thing about our thoughts is that our brain has no choice but to believe us, I mean we aren’t going to lie to ourselves, right?
There were times and moments before I really turned the corner that I tried building my confidence, I would write out affirming statements, try to tell myself how strong I was in this area. Where I failed at changing was my lack of true belief and consistency. I would work on it when I needed to but not in between I would just be thankful I didn’t have to do it in those moments. Guys, it’s those in between times count most!
“It’s what you practice in private that you will be rewarded for in public”. -Tony Robbins
And, this whole time, on the inside, I had this true image in my head about how I really wanted to show up, positive, unafraid, with my amazing voice, and thoughts and excitement and drive to build other people up, just as ME, unafraid. And, I’m pretty certain based on feedback throughout the years, that I did show up like this on the outside but man, on the inside I was tearing myself apart, quite literally.
It was in my mid-thirties that everything came to a screeching halt, I learned I had a 4cm tumor in my thyroid, yep, that was a bad day. You know, the ones that can take you to your knees, that was that moment for me. Thoughts ran through my head, as the primary income earner how my family was going to be taken care of and the thought of my son living without his mom, urgh.
Who’s had moments like this?
Over the weeks to come, they confirmed cancer, and removed the whole thyroid. Now, remember as a high performing businesswoman, I didn’t want to miss much time from work, I think I was off for all of two- or three-weeks. Not nearly long enough when I look back to all of what built in my head over the next several months. That anxiety got about five times worse overnight, depression started, and my breaking moment was when I started getting strong suicidal thoughts. Keep in mind I am a person who has never had thoughts of suicide before this. The day that turned my whole world around, I was diving up to Winona, MN to work with my team for the day. It was a very rough morning already for a number of reasons. One I should have acknowledged that I needed a break and took the day to regroup. My whole drive there which is nearly three hours came one thought after another of how I could end it all, be done, and not feel this pain I was feeling anymore. By the grace of my boy, my son, the light of my life coming in my head and reminding me there was no way I was going to leave my son without his mom, that was the day I started rebuilding my life, working through the anxiety and taking the steps to use and live my true authentic REAL, voice!
It is said that disease is “Dis-Ease” in your body. And, I do believe that dis-ease showed up after all those years right where I second guessed myself for so long, my throat, my voice. Me!
Friends, this was NOT an easy road ahead. I had years and years of conditioning myself in a negative way. And, for me medications to ease those pains of depression/thoughts it just was not an option. I personally prefer not to put any medication in my body I don’t have to. This road over the next couple years was basically like a rollercoaster. I would feel like I was making progress, get excited and started to feel healthier than there days I felt like I made no progress at all. Who’s been there before?
But, the difference maker, I stuck with it. I kept going. And, those bad days got less and less. Better than all of that I was starting to walk away from moments that use to end in me second guessing myself, anxiousness, heart bounding moments. Yes, I started walking away from those moments, confident and with no question in my head of what I said or how I showed up. I started walking away with the believe that I “Nailed it”. That my voice, what I had to say was worth being heard.
And, as I type before you today, I can tell you that anxiousness that started in Junior High is gone. Now don’t get me wrong, we all have anxiety or anxiousness show up at times but when you work on it, it is so much easier to turn around when it shows up. It is so much easier to squash those thoughts that come in and reverse them. Fact is, I probably take better care of me in ALL areas of my emotional/mental well being then I ever have in life and let me tell you it is life changing. Worth all the focus! Tough moments and thoughts show up for all of us but it’s how we handle them, what we do with it that strengthens us.
What are these moments for you? What areas spark anxiousness or anxiety? What area do you want to STOP tearing yourself down and start building yourself up? Building confidence in yourself in this area could help to squash that anxiety. So, we’ll start here, what area would you want more confidence?
Once you know what that area is, here are a few steps to get you started.
Define what tool, resources, knowledge you need to move forward? There are so many resources available in most topics from books to podcasts to blogs, courses and more. I do however recommend starting with one, learning and applying that before adding another idea or strategy.
Identify what might trigger you to old behaviors? For me, I knew I had to be ready around people who tend to see the glass always half empty. In the beginning of my healing I limited time with them as much as possible. They didn’t do anything wrong, I just needed to ensure I was protecting my energy and space as I was healing. I am a believer that we all are who we are not good or bad just different. Now that I have strengthened it is much easier for me to provide my opinions on seeing the glass as overflowing with those who see the opposite. And, fact is when you surround yourself around people who are different then you there are some great ideas that can come out of it but we will save that for a future post.
Make a commitment to yourself. What 2 or 3 areas are you going to commit to working on each day, for you? Get as clear as possible, close your eyes and visualize what it looks like when you are growing in this area? Read it and visualize every morning and evening.
Be ready for setbacks. When they show up, what are you going to do to stay on track?
CELEBRATE the wins. It doesn’t matter how small or big. Celebrate these moments. Have an empowering song, get up and dance. Our bodies respond to emotion and movement. If you get up and celebrate in these moments, you brain is going to remember how good it felt and want more of it.
Breaking anxiety, learning how to turn it around when it shows up, it all takes time, focus and effort. If you want to work on it, if you’re ready for a change, get started, start taking action!
Need help, check out my learned confidence webinar coming soon. As a woman with no thyroid anxiousness can show up quick. Friends if you struggle with thyroid issues this can be something that triggers faster for you. I'm working on a course and more tips to come on this. Message me for details.
Stay well my friends!