Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Anxiety started, for me, during elementary school. I must have been, eight, nine or ten, somewhere in there. Before this, I was openly gregarious and not really a hesitant or reserved person when talking to other people. I continued to be pretty outgoing after this time, but it came with a lot of internal anxiety, second-guessing, and often holding back what I wanted to say.
During my early growing up years, I had someone very close to me that would frequently make comments like “you’re stupid,” “no one wants to hear what you have to say,” and “shut up, no one likes you anyway,” to name a few. Now for an impressionable young kid, I framed these comments as truth. I do not remember ever talking to my mom or dad about it; we didn’t talk about our feelings as kids. Throughout childhood and continued
interactions with this person, I continued to build on the story that what she said was truth. It did not help that I idolized this person and just wanted to be a part of her world. By this point in life, even when this person wasn’t around, I would proceed with caution when talking to people and openly saying what I had to say.
The thing is, I had a major internal conflict with this story I had built. I had a lot to say as a person. I am a highly creative person with a lot of thoughts and ideas. I made this story about “my ideas were stupid” and “my voice didn’t matter” created this internal tug of war. It also impacted how openly I shared things and the internal second-guessing along the way.
Looking forward to the next couple of decades, I continued to build anxiety and stress when it came to sharing my authentic voice and thoughts.
It was completely unhealthy! I became my own worst enemy and bullied myself.
I was promoted to management by my early twenties and started in sales when I was in my late twenties. In both of these roles, I had to show up strong and confident. But, internally, I continued to grow that second-guessing, replaying what I said in my head, and wondering if I said the wrong thing. Again, extremely unhealthy and not a good quality of life putting myself through this. Now to be clear, this wasn’t constant but showed up more and more throughout the years. Each time that I did not silence that negative, I was reinforcing it as truth. During the times I would step into my true self (confident, gregarious, open, unafraid), those were some of the most freeing and best days in my career.
Internally I would have labeled myself a true Introvert (by the way, I am not big on labels). There was no other explanation of why I would feel this way internally all the time. I had not yet dialed back to when/where it started.
My turning point in life was in my mid-thirties. For those of you not familiar with my previous blogs, it was in my mid-thirties that I had thyroid cancer, and all my deepest darkest struggles spiraled fast over the next couple of years past this point.
At my rock bottom, I thankfully pulled myself up and realized I needed to change. My earliest steps came with a lot of writing, reading, podcasts, and anything else I could get my hands on to learn about my body, mind, anxiety, depression, etc. For me, I needed to learn about where this was stemming from and how to change it. The one thing I knew for a fact was that I wanted to live a happier life. I wanted to, without reservation, openly share my creative side. I read a lot on positive self-talk, anxiety, the brain, motivation, and so much more.
About a year or two into my healing journey, I also hired my first coach. I knew I was to the point that I was ready to openly share some of what I had been feeling with someone, and coaching felt like the best option for me. This was also when I started uncovering all of what I now call “false truths” that I built in childhood. What I did not realize until this point in life was how much they impacted me. I don’t even know if I could tell you I remembered some of those comments before this.
It took a lot of work to get to the root of the issues.
My coach helped me uncover and realign these stories/false truths I had built about myself. She also helped immensely when it came to changing the story I was telling myself. I started noticing less internal anxiety when it would have previously shown up.
Over the next couple of years, I continued my path of healing and growth. I would learn, apply, and repeat. I also had a lot of conversations that I should have had years ago (we will talk more about this in another post).
Speeding forward a couple of years, I knew how far I had come in my growth, overcoming the internal demons of anxiety, stress, and second-guessing. I also started being more open about my journey and sharing with others. It felt good. Don’t get me wrong, I think as people, we still have a certain amount of manageable anxiety that shows up, but we learn how to recognize it and attach the meaning to it.
A couple of years later, when I started my first business, and I was considering getting certified as a trainer and/or coach, I recognized some of the same emotions showing up again.
Thankfully, I was able to recognize it quickly from all the work I had done. It was clear I still had something to uncover and to work through. I started seeking out information, books and learning about stored emotions. From this, I started learning about how emotions, experiences, and memories mark your body. Emotional experience make marks on your cells. Until you release them, they continue to show up. For me, it was those false beliefs from when I was little. Releasing those stored emotions behind the stories and experiences was vital for me to continue moving forward. After reading about the Emotion/Body Code, I hired a certified healer to release those past emotions. Looking back, all the work I had done prior was key for this part of my healing. I believe we must genuinely be open to change and growth for anything to be effective.
Looking back, this journey has been seven/eight years of undoing stories that I build for decades.
Anyone focused on growth in any area, personal growth, weight loss, fixing a relationship, whatever it is, recognizes that it may take time and effort to “undo” whatever it is!
I spent over twenty-five years building stories in my head, heart, and body about who I was from my self-critical comments and the comments I built from others. The stories I built were dis-empowering and caused me much internal grief for decades. Because I didn’t fix them earlier and I didn’t recognize something that needed to be changed, I continued to build truth about these things each time I would have an encounter that made me anxious or nervous. My story was that my voice didn’t matter, and what the hell did I know? Everyone knew more than me.
As I type this blog today, I am incredibly grateful to have changed that story and internal false belief.
Un-doing this twenty-five (ish) years of false beliefs took time, consistency, and work.
Whatever it is you are working on or through, remember it takes time! Hang in there and stay focused on what you want to do, where you want to be.
Here are a few tips to help:
Decide what you want or what you don’t want. For me, I knew I no longer wanted to feel the way I felt internally just by being me and communicating. I also knew there was a lot I held back from saying. I wanted the confidence and strength to say the things I wanted to say.
What tools do you need? Depending on what you are looking to achieve, your tools may look far different from mine. Hint here, don’t make money a barrier; there are so many free/cost-effective tools out there.
Get help if you need it! You guys, for a long time, I did not ask for help. For two main reasons, first, I did not want to burden anyone, and second, I didn’t want to be judged by “what people would think.” I must tell you the most pivotal point in my life came with getting help and being more open to share/communicate openly with the right people. It was NOT EASY for me. Some of the most challenging conversations I had in my growth journey were messy, and nothing came out as planned. But, on the other side of it, it felt freeing and started showing me what I was missing by not openly sharing.
Consistency is key to change!
Mindset. No matter what it is you are working on, I believe mindset is crucial. Watch your words, and be sure to get clear statements in place that will empower you. Encourage yourself and what you are doing with positive statements.
Growth does not come overnight. Chunk out your goals. You know where you are now and where you want to be. Set yourself up for success by creating attainable steps to get you there, so you are more likely to stick to it.
Recognize and acknowledge your progress along the way. Celebrate all of the small wins along the way. The more you do, the more you will be able to look back and see how far you have come, and the more you will stay motivated to keep going. Journaling along the way is a great way to have a quick look back at how far you have come.
Finally, keep appreciating and being kind to yourself and the road you are on.
If you are looking for more tips, suggestions, or coaching support, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.