How I Cured My Anxiety And Stopped (Almost All) The Worry Chatter In My Head
Every month I have a wonderful time connecting with some of the most amazing women in our coaches’ mastermind circle. As...
Every month I have a wonderful time connecting with some of the most amazing women in our coaches’ mastermind circle. As part of our monthly rituals, we do a virtual go around, where we each share one or more of our wins of the past four weeks. When it was my turn, I had the best win ever to share: I’ve come to the conclusion that I cured my anxiety and stopped (almost all) the worry chatter in my head. But, and there’s always a but, this realization came as the silver lining of a very unpleasing situation that has recently made its way into my life.
That’s the reason I want to write about anxiety today, because in a way what’s happening to me right now, and the way I’m dealing with it, has helped me realize how far I’ve come, and how much all the work I’ve put in to overcome my anxiety has paid off. Because believe me, if what’s happening now in my life would have happened to me only a few years ago, I’d be a total mess, completely devastated, overcome with bouts of anxiety I wouldn’t be able to deal with, incapable to stop the worry chatter in my head.
Yet, here I am. Peaceful, calm, and happy.
The €80,000 Anxiety Test
While an ex-business partner from almost a decade ago managed to bankrupt a company that I was briefly involved in way back when, failed to file the required accounts and other reports to the state for years, made official documents disappear, lied about the whole thing to government officials, so that now they’re at my doorstep asking me to fill in for the losses, using a decade-old capitalization promise of €80,000 (yes, you read that right, we’re talking $100,000). I’m sure you’ll agree that this might be reason enough to propel anyone into anxiety and worry town.
Yet, here I am. Together, serene, and (almost) undisturbed.
When I realized the placid state I was in, when the news about this really unfair, and really, really shitty situation reached me a few weeks ago, I was in disbelief.
At first, I thought I was in shock, and that that was the reason why I didn’t feel anything. “Give it a few days”, I thought to myself, “and you’ll be a mess, I promise”. But a few days later, I was still doing fine. Of course, I had the occasional thought popping into my mind, but every time, in a reflex-like manner, I simply pushed the thought away.
Then, I thought it was because I was being optimistic, having arranged a preliminary meeting with my lawyers, and thinking it would all be OK since I have absolutely nothing to do with this whole thing. Until I met with them, and they confirmed that there was no way out of this, and that I would have to pay up, no matter what. Even then, every time a worrisome thought about this came into my mind, the reflex was there too, and the thought was pushed aside.
Finally, I thought it was because I was blinded by anger for the injustice that was happening to me. And that when that wave of anger would pass, I’d only start feeling the real feelings, anxiety, and worry that I was expecting to come over me.
But again, close to nothing. And when an anxious feeling did make its way into my mind, it left as fast as it had appeared. This left me puzzled to say the least, and for a few different reasons.
How Far I’ve Come…
- One. I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember. When I used to be a people pleaser, the worry chatter in my head never seemed to stop. Even the smallest, most insignificant thing would get me going.
- Two. Although I’ve been working on getting myself anxiety and worry-free for a good five years now, I never would have thought that I could remain so composed and blissful in a shitty situation like that. Yes, I knew I had beaten the little anxiety demons, but I wasn’t aware that the big ones were also slayed.
- Three. I’ve been working on my money story for a very long time too. And one of my biggest worries in life has always been money, and my biggest fear that someone would come and take my hard-earned cash away from me.
- Four. When I was a kid, the thing that made me the saddest was when someone would wrongfully accuse me of something, and I would have no way to defend myself. And until this day, I still cannot stand it. It’s made me into a feminist, and an activist, which I wonderful, but also into someone who’s very sensitive to any kind of injustice.
The good thing about being self-aware, and on a continuous path of self-discovery, is that you notice things. And after a few weeks, when I had gone through all five stages of loss, because – hey – it’s not because you’re not worrying or anxious that you can’t or shouldn’t feel angry, depressed over something unfair happening to you, I had to accept that I still wasn’t back to my worrisome self from the past.
So I started to think back on all the things I had done to help alleviate my anxiety, and the path I’d traveled since then. I read a lot of books, tried out a lot of techniques, and often felt like nothing was really working.
But that’s because I didn’t realize what a layered process it is, and how everything I was doing, and learning would be very beneficial in the long term. So after six years of self-discovery, with the last three years spent working on overcoming my anxiety, here’s an overview of the five main areas I worked on to achieve the level of peace, and calm I now enjoy.
The first real step I took to live a life with less anxiety, was to follow an eight-week course in Mindfulness. It’s funny when I think back on it, because a lot of the things that were taught during that course now seem so normal to me, yet at the time my woo-woo alarms where going off every five minutes. I was so into the masculine, and so focused on being a high-achieving woman, unaware of the suffocating stress I was living under, and the unrealistic expectations I had for myself, that anything that tried to crack that armour was met with disbelief. But thanks to the beginners’ mind, and a real wish to live a much happier life, I kept going, even though I fell asleep during every single meditation!
The most important thing that this mindfulness training taught me was that we are not our thoughts, and that we should be like investigative journalists before we believe them. A Copernican revolution for me. Until then, I made no difference between what I thought, the nasty little voice in my head that spelled out those thoughts to me, and my self.
After the Mindfulness course I started to question the things that I thought, and to distance myself from them. An awakening moment to say the least.
I’d been on and off the meditation wagon for many, many years. I knew about the benefits, but I had a hard time keeping a daily practice. After the Mindfulness course, I committed to giving myself to meditate every day. The reason I wanted this so badly, is that I realized that if I was not my thoughts, I needed a powerful way to be in control of them. And I felt that meditation might be the answer. And I believe it’s been instrumental to stopping the worry chatter in my head.
My meditation practice is really simple. I focus on my breathing, and I allow thoughts to enter my mind, but also to leave my mind again. Always going back to my breathing. That’s the powerful training that I’ve given myself over the years. And now, even when I’m not in a meditative state, I’m able to push away thoughts that I don’t want. And… to keep them at bay, leaving me undisturbed.
#3 The Now
A few months after the eight-week Mindfulness practice, my coach at the time proposed that I’d read The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. Of course, I’d heard about how the only real moment we have is now, and how the past cannot be changed, and the future is only an illusion, but still I found myself anxiously worrying about all the things I felt I had done wrong in my life, and all the things that dawned on me in the future.
No stone was left unturned. I could spend hours, days, weeks even going over a conversation I’d had with someone, or something someone had said or done. I saw danger everywhere, with my biggest worry being that people would eventually hate me, hurt me, and figure out that I was not anywhere near good enough. I didn’t believe in a happy world, where I could live a successful life. Until I discovered the power of now.
Using the teachings of the book (and of course, reading up on it, and doing a lot more research!), whenever I felt anxious I started asking myself:
- How are you feeling now?
- Where are you now?
- Can anyone hurt you now?
To always come to the same conclusion: that I was safe, that I was good, that nobody could hurt me.
It changed my life.
By now, I’d come to realize that I was not my thoughts, and even better, that I could control them. I’d also learned techniques to keep me out of the past and future, and to ground me in the present – where everything was really just fine most of the time. And so, at this point in my journey, I came across the next very powerful piece of the anxiety-free puzzle: my beliefs.
Realizing that I was not my thoughts was a very powerful experience for me. But even more so, was understanding that the thoughts I have are a result of the beliefs that I hold true. And with that, to become aware of where those beliefs come from, and their innate illusory character.
Our beliefs shape our reality. I have no doubt about that. But that doesn’t make them real, or intangible. We all believe so many things, consciously and subconsciously. And most of those beliefs have been passed down to us by our parents, the significant people in our lives, and even society and our culture. Understanding this was another big a-ha moment for me, one in which I decided that from now on I would question everything, and that I would not accept the status quo anymore.
And finally, through this process, I realized that the biggest piece of it all to overcome my anxiety and worry, was to learn to love myself. I believe that something that is whole doesn’t worry, because it has everything it needs right within itself. And I believe the same goes for us humans. A big part of anxiety and worry comes from believing you’re not good enough, at least it was for me, and that somebody out there will hurt you, or figure you out, or that nobody will ever love you.
Remembering when I’ve been the most anxious in my life, this certainly applies to me. The worries I would have would always have to do with my many flaws, with the things I could lose in my life, with invented danger about being left all alone in this world, having no were to go, or no one to turn to. But the real issue was: I didn’t love myself.
Over the course of the last few years, I’ve worked very, very hard at becoming my own best girlfriend. And it has had a profound effect on how I stand in the world, and the way I deal with any kind of shit that comes my way: serene, untroubled, and supported.
Because I’m always there for me. And that, in the end, is my biggest anxiety and worry-busting remedy.
Of course, I’m not saying that I never have any worries anymore, or that I’m totally anxiety free. That would simply not be true. Especially with something like what’s happening now, I will have the off moment and the dark thought. But where it used to be days or weeks on end of agonizing worry over anything and everything, I’m down to a couple of minutes, that have little to no effect on my overall happiness. And that to me is nothing short of a miracle.
I hope this post helps you to overcome your anxieties and worry chatter. And if you’re doing the work, but feel like nothing’s changing… Know now that it’s a process, and that you’re on your way to a much happier and more peaceful life. So don’t give up, but let me know how you’re doing in the comments below instead. I’d love to know.
Hi, I’m Murielle. I created the online course Soulful Productivity™, a 6-week program to redefine productivity and help you get from overwhelm to flow, and I have a private coaching practice where I help ambitious, multi-passionate creatives and entrepreneurs start, grow & scale businesses, and create their freedom lifestyle. PS: I love Instagram. Let’s connect!