When I was a child, people said I was loving, smart and sensitive. Secretly, I also felt fearful and anxious. I was certain some unnamed, scary calamity was about to attack me.
In my early teens, I remained loving, smart and sensitive. But my secret fears fed off all the usual teenage trials and tribulation, and I was fast becoming a captive in my own prison of fear and anxiety.
"What’s the worst thing that could happen," I would say, and using negative visualization, I worked out the worst-case scenario in my head and saw it play out in my imagination, thinking this would keep me safe.
If I knew the worst thing that could happen, then surely I could handle it without fear. Right?
Wrong! I became a worrier ninja.
I was good at it, and all my worries prevented me from experiencing lasting pleasure and joy.
I over-analyzed everything, and the combination of worries and anxiety led to a full-blown panic attack in my late teens — a sad state of affairs for a young girl who should have been focused on moving forward with her life instead of poisoning her spirit with fear and trepidation.
I knew it was time to reach out for help, so I visited one of the wisest people I knew, my grandmother.
With her wisdom and inspiration, I dug my way out of my dark hole of fear and anxiety. It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning and all was well in my world. I worked at it.
If you have an inner voice that is more troll under the bridge than Grandma the Wise, leading you to worry and anxiety, let the following words of wisdom from my grandma put you on a path to greater peace, and happiness.
Live life on your terms.
Each and every day, do one thing that reflects your joy, your capabilities, and the things you care about.
It’s far too easy to allow the views of others to determine what we do with our lives.
Be daring. Allow yourself to ignore what others think. Choose a path that feels true and authentic to you.
You’ll be amazed at your incredible capabilities when you express the uniqueness of yourself.
Be the person who’s brave enough to push through your doubts and fears. Seeing evidence of your own abilities generates the momentum for you to claim your unique space in the world.
"Life doesn’t bring you what you want," grandma told me. "It can only bring you who you are."
Plant the right seeds.
It isn’t the things you fear that cause the problem. It’s dwelling on those fears that’s the real challenge. "Keep it simple," grandma said. If you plant roses, you expect roses to grow, so planting fearful thoughts can only produce more fear-based things in your world.
It works that easily. And you can plant anything you want and reap that harvest.
Grandma believed in making sure she planted one act of kindness every day to see more kindness in her world. I tried it, and my fears began to wither on the vine because of lack of attention and nourishment.
So instead of planting fear-based thoughts, start planting the seeds that will bring you what you truly want out of life.
Grandma suggested that I see failure as an investment in myself and my future.
"Go ahead and fail," she told me. "At the very least, you’ll learn what doesn’t work; and if you view it as part of the success process, you’ll be just like Winston Churchill and develop the ability to go from one failure; perhaps even more, without losing your enthusiasm."
I wasn’t sure she was right, but I decided to give it a whirl. And eventually, through trial and error and failing often, I began to see failure as success that just hadn’t arrived yet.
I reminded myself that being afraid of things going wrong wasn’t the way to make them go right. And I learned that once you begin to say yes to life, to the rough as well as the smooth, you’ll discover that every moment determines who you are and the kind of life you lead; not just those happy moments that you wish would last forever.
And if you fail, remember that you were born to share your unique gifts with the world. Any failures you experience along the way teach you how to nourish and share those gifts more effectively. The more you embrace failure, the less it paralyzes your life.
Draw a line.
Anxiety is a feeling that sends our minds spinning into the future. After all, we’re not anxious about the past are we? What really worries us isn’t the reality of now, it’s what we imagine tomorrow will bring.
One thing is certain; we can’t foresee the future, so why not live in the present?
You’ve got this. And remember, nothing ever turns out to be as challenging or as scary as we think. Plus it’s an awesome thrill to overcome a fear and get one of those “I can’t believe I did that” feelings of excitement.
I'm certain that you, too, can look back and see fear and anxiety as simply part of the process of building something wonderful — a great life.
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