You may or may not have noticed that I have not blogged for a few days. I could explain my absence with the benign explanation of “I haven’t felt well” or the always popular catch-all excuse of, “I’ve been really busy”, but that is not entirely true. I also could gloss over my absence altogether, but that doesn’t feel right, either. So, that leaves the truth, and the truth is that I have been dealing with a resurgence of anxiety that crept back into my life and struck with a vengeance. Again.
While I am so grateful that the anxiety is no longer pervasive, it still throws me for a loop when it does return, and it frustrates me to no end when I cannot get a handle on it. My inability to use all of the coping skills that I have learned over the years leaves me feeling like I am damaged beyond repair, and it leaves me feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. It also leaves me feeling ashamed.
So, it was with great interest that I read the following post by Paulo Coelho, when I stumbled upon it during the throes of this latest round of anxiety:
“There is nothing wrong with anxiety.
Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible.
Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear.
That is so from childhood onwards, until we reach the age when we become indifferent to life. Because as long as we are intensely connected to the present moment, we will always be waiting anxiously for someone or something.
How can you tell a passionate heart to be still and contemplate the miracles of Creation in silence, free of tension, fear and unanswerable questions?
Anxiety is part of love, and should not be blamed because of that.
How can you tell someone not to worry when he has invested his money and his life in a dream and has yet to see any results? The farmer cannot speed the progress of the seasons in order to pick the fruit he planted, but he waits impatiently for the coming of autumn and harvest-time. How can you ask a warrior not to feel anxious before a battle? He has trained to the point of exhaustion for that moment, he has given of his best, and while he believes he is prepared, he fears that all his efforts could prove to be in vain.
Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms.”
This article originally appeared on Paulo Coelho’s Blog.
In case you missed it, did you catch what the opening sentence said? If so, let me repeat it, only a little louder, “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANXIETY.” As much as I admire Paul Coelho, the first time I read that particular sentence, I thought that he may be even crazier than I felt to make what seemed like an absurd statement. When I discussed the article and my own anxiety with my special friend yesterday, I remarked that I prefer feeling depressed than feeling anxious, and I insisted that there definitely is something wrong with anxiety. As he so often does, my special friend helped me to see things from a different perspective and redirected my attention to the next two sentences, “Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible. Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear.”
Those two sentences were absolutely spot on for yours truly and have been on my mind since I first took in his words. When stated so brilliantly, anxiety suddenly seemed ‘normal’ and almost logical, instead of overpowering and scary. My anxiety is rooted in having goals/dreams that I am working toward and becoming impatient and despondent when they take an unexpected turn and/or end up taking longer to reach and being uncomfortable when fears, both real and imaginary, threaten those goals/dreams. Sometimes, I can use my coping skills, such as deep breathing and positive self-talk, to stop the anxiety in its tracks. Other times, though, coping skills be damned, as the anxiety derails me. This week, the anxiety definitely threw me off track, but Paulo Coelho’s wise words and the support of my special friend and my dear friends, Mary and Donna, helped me climb back on the track and begin to move forward again, one step at a time.
While the anxiety may always be there, either waiting in the wings or taking center stage, I will focus on learning how to live with it, instead of trying to fight it. I still do not like experiencing anxiety, but I will concede that maybe there really is nothing inherently wrong with anxiety. Maybe, anxiety really is just part of life and something that can be a great teacher or motivator. Maybe, just, maybe . . .
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story