keskiviikko 1. toukokuuta 2013

Days 220-221: Anxiety & fear of failure


I had already written something today but I realized that I had written it to boast about a realization. So instead of publishing it I will now write unplanned about this unclear experience I'm within at the moment.

I am anxious. I am increasingly horrified by my schedule and the fact that I will be leaving the country in 12 days and that my entrance exams are 7 days away. I react to every person suggesting a meeting or otherwise trying to “rob me” of my precious time – every trigger gets me deeper and deeper into anxiety and panic. It's this crushing heaviness and a loud “I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!” in my mind.

I enjoy the acts of studying and preparing for the trip – it's enjoyable to expand myself through applied knowledge, and cleaning up the apartment and packing stuff is refreshing. But this anxiety, it is completely extra, it need not be here. I could be here in simple practicality, doing what I can with the time that I've got, but instead I make it more difficult by stressing and thinking ahead. Momentarily I have been able to remind myself that even though these deadlines loom close-by, they are not here yet, and that I am here now in this moment within which I am able to influence how these deadlines will be met.

I have neglected my need for sleep and rest for a couple of days, and I have noticed how my anxiety levels affect the quality of the little sleep I've had. I've been dreaming restlessly about confusing scenarios with more difficulty waking up than I can remember since a couple years back when I abused myself continuously by not sleeping enough. I've been getting myself out of bed in this half-asleep zombie state in which I'm still partly within the dream experience and from which I snap out of by the time I get to work. It has been frightening to see how little control I have over myself, sleep-walking around. This anxiety cannot linger. I will not allow it.

This experience of sitting on this couch immersed in my anxiety in the middle of the night is familiar to me. I used to do it more often when I was more confused about the workings of my mind. Somehow there is something “familiar” and “safe” about this scenario – yet it is suffocating because those lonesome anxiety nights never got me anywhere. (Except for once, which is when I actually moved tremendously. A benchmark of sorts.) What is my relationship to anxiety? Who am I within anxiety (to myself and others)? What do I get out of anxiety?

Anxiety has been “a part of me” ever since, I don't know, forever. My earliest memories of social anxiety are from my first day of school at 6 years old. So anxiety is to me a feeling that I am used to and familiar with, and it used to be such a dominant part of my experience that I didn't really pay attention to it. I can't say for sure whether I've ever been free of anxiety.

Being anxious also serves as a character with which I can ask for sympathy from others. I make myself helpless and small in front of whatever I'm anxious about and ask for others to save me – it's an act of avoiding facing what I fear. So in my anxiety there is always a key, and it's somewhere in the midst of the cause of the anxiety; I need to face it to find the solution.

So what do I fear here? The worst-case scenario here is that I will have to leave the country with things unfinished, and that I will fail to study enough for the exams an not get into university – I fear I will run out of actual physical time, that even if I cut down on every other aspect of my life I would still just not have enough minutes in my day. But as I look at my situation I know this to be fretful exaggeration. My reactions mostly occur when I remember something I should have done but haven't done yet, so a practical solution to this would be to write a list of everything that needs to be done and plan out how I'm going to get them done – what needs to prioritized, when is the deadline for each, how much time will they take, etc. Right now I have multiple lists all over the place and that doesn't really serve any purpose. So all this panicking around is just forgetting to breathe, be here and do what's necessary. This is probably a mother-pattern, I can see how and where I've learned it.

And the same goes with anxiety. It is to give in to all those thoughts that hinder action. “Should I do this, no, maybe, I don't know, but what if, where is it, how do I, how is this, I can't, nothing's working, but, no, no I can't do that, fuck I forgot about that, what if, I can't, I can't I CAN'T AAAA I'M GONNA DIE” lol. To dwell in anxiety is to forget one's actual potential and ability to take action. This is just a guess, but some people with difficult anxiety disorders may have simply never learned how to deal with things in a practical manner. I know this is a problem for me with some social issues I'm dealing with: when I face a situation I have never learned how to function within, I lock myself into a panic-mode and look for a way out, and even if I know how to move in theory it is still difficult to move myself according to theory when I have never tried out something in action. But that is a threshold I'm going to have to cross myself – I'm just going to have to trust myself to be able to deal with whatever comes along.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to get overwhelmed by the worst-case scenarios I have created in my mind, thus disabling myself from seeing what there is to be done in the practical reality to stop these scenarios from happening as I filter what I see of the reality through emotions (anxiety, panic, confusion, distress, nervousness, fear) instead of seeing what is actually here.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to give power to the worst-case scenarios of my mind by allowing them to direct my experience into an emotional clusterfuck instead of me directing my experience myself towards a practical solution.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think and believe “I am not going to make it” within my overwhelmedness, not realizing that as I believe a thought like this I accept and allow it to become real; When I believe “I am not going to make it” I will not do my best to actually make it because I have already positioned myself to “fail” as every action is committed from the starting point of the self-definition “I am a failure”.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define myself as a “failure” because I have seen myself powerless to direct my life in the prevailing circumstances, not realizing that the perception I base my self-definition on is filtered through emotions and thus is not a reliable assessment of the circumstances I am in.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to trust an assessment of the reality I have made through emotions and base my actions on this assessment, not realizing to stop, breathe and allow the emotions to dissipate to make a clear evaluation of the situation at hand.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to blame others for trying to “steal my time” when in fact it is me who refuses to make a clear decision to rule out actions that are unnecessary at the moment.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to desire to do other things than those that are relevant to what is acute as they have been “out of my reach” and thus desirable.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to react to people “demanding” my time as I have placed a high value on time as I see myself to be running out of it.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and perceive that others “demand” something of me when it is in fact me who recognizes their request to be one that I am responsible to fulfill, and that I thus demand myself to give my time to others and resist doing it because of my unwillingness to set other tasks aside.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to demand myself to do things for others because of promises I have given, doing things in the name of “honor” instead of stopping and negotiating how things could be done in such a way that I wouldn't have to compromise myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to compromise myself and my life for the promises I have made and the “honor”, reputation and reliability they represent.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to avoid facing what I fear by making myself helpless through anxiety, blaming the fear for being “too much” and clinging onto others to “save me” from the fear.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself within and as anxiety to believe I am “small” as compared to what I fear, here separating myself from the fear, not realizing that I am the cause of the fear and thus one with and equal to the fear – I am my fear, I live as my fear – thus, I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to separate myself from myself by refusing to see myself as one with and equal to what I fear and escaping it through anxiety.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to see myself to be “small” as compared to my fear of failure (here, failing exams and failing travel preparations) and thus become anxious as I have seen myself “unable” to influence my situation and direct myself in such a way that my fears will not come true – not realizing that as I perceive the exams and travel preparations to be “bigger than” me I make my fears come true as my focus is then not in practical solutions but in exaggeration and complaining.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not accept my situation so that I could do something about it but instead complain about it so that I could avoid carrying responsibility for my actions as my current circumstances are a consequence of my previous actions.

I commit myself to make a list of all the things I need to get done before I leave the country (and another on things I need to remember to do while traveling) and to plan out how I am going to get them done. I commit myself to do this tomorrow morning.

When and as I notice anxiety coming over me as this heavy experience pushing my body downwards, especially around the chest area, as related to thoughts that create anxiety (i.e. self-diminishing words, worst-case scenarios) – I stop and I breathe through the physical experience. I realize that I am making myself helpless to avoid facing what I fear. I remind myself there is always a practical solution to things and that it needs to be found outside of emotions. I look at myself in self-honesty and self-awareness of my movements to determine what my experience actually is and what it is that I fear – this within the realization that if I do not follow the principle of self-honesty, I will remain stuck and will not move. Once I have located the fear(s) at hand I look at how to solve them in practicality by asking myself: “What can I do about this?” I then proceed to living out these solutions.

I commit myself to realize that I am a failure only when I do not learn from my mistakes.

I commit myself to make sure that my starting point is clear when making an evaluation of a situation – that my reason for doing it is not fear but practicality.

I commit myself to no longer book any unnecessary activities until my entrance exams are over.

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