Learning to Tolerate Anxiety

There should be more to life than this.
There should be more to life than this.

I have long tapped into what this Business article says is, “the benefit of anxiety.” I do as they recommend and “use it as motivation to get prepared and push yourself to perform well.” 

To this I say, Yuck. We’d all be better off shunning this productivity validates your existence paradigm.

I take meds for anxiety, but still have plenty left over to “motivate.” I’m all for medicating mental issues (I fall short here on the word illness because I don’t like feeling ill. I am simply less well adjusted). My trip out west inspired me to rediscover my need to work through, and with, my anxiety, in addition to just using the medication.

I’m trying to correct my need to use anxiety “to my benefit” as a motivator. It works like this: my anxiety about undone things inspires me to act, often manically, until I can cross these things off a list and sigh out relief. Only, of course to add another thing to the list.  And these tactics make me a super woman of sorts, but trap me in an unhealthy cycle and it’s defining my life in a too-narrow paradigm. The kind one wakes up from in 30 years filled with regret and disappointment.

So I began three weeks ago with a grand experiment, eliminating daily lists, coffee pounding, and tight schedules in order to confront my habits that use anxiety to motivate. I decided to break the cycle in an attempt to redefine my worth and redirect the energy of my life.

It’s been a very eye opening exercise. First off, it’s not natural for me. I have to fight to tolerate the anxiety of the undone and not fall back into these patterns. But overall, the efforts I have made to work differently through my day, has made my life  richer, more relaxed, more mindful. And Yes. It has also made me slightly less productive. But only slightly. And that’s eye opening in and of itself.

Overall, I say my mindful shift away from productive anxiety has netted a huge gain. And I don’t think the world flinched a bit at my 10% dip in rigor.

So there it is. I’m learning to sit with and take power away from, my anxiety. In only three weeks, it’s been life changing.  So far so good. Hopefully, I can keep it up. Because there’s more to life than the superwoman bullshit.


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