Anxiety can be characterized in many ways; the formal definition says that it is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” It comes in many forms, severities, and is due to a million different reasons subjective to our own minds and situations.
Because of my own battles with anxiety and my passion for mental health and wellness, anxiety is a topic that I will be touching on often; for now, it may just help for people who suffer from it to know that they are not alone.
Here is A. Pierre Sobers, opening up about his own battle with anxiety. Pierre is passionate about entrepreneurship, developing recycling ventures, and is a mental health advocate belonging to the Jamaican mental health group MENSANA.
From Anxiety to Calm
From as early as I can remember, I have experienced anxiety in one shape or other. I remember as a seven year old being in a social gathering with my parents and absenting myself to stay in my father’s car until they were ready to leave.
During my teenage years, I always felt uncomfortable in social situations like parties. I always felt out of place. My social life suffered in terms of not being able to build the kinds of relationships with the opposite sex, so my self confidence suffered.
As my self confidence suffered, my life became mired in failure. I was unable to negotiate a successful life – both professionally and personally. None of my life’s ambitions were able to be realized. Even my jerky driving habits reflected this anxious state of mind. In recent years, I was even chronically worried about how I would survive after my parents inevitable passing takes place. I stressed out over everything.
Over the years, I tried different relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, and meditation, to break the cycle of anxiety. They would give me a sense of euphoria but I still got anxious when stressful situations would arise.
In April 2016, I started a Facebook group “Jamaica Trading Network”. It was meant to be a networking group for people to promote different business ventures. Even though it may seem small, it was the first step to providing me a major psychological breakthrough; it gave me an outlet to pursue long frustrated passions. I finally took action to begin what I’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason have been afraid to do (anxiety!). This didn’t come easy, however. It began with a purge of long-held negative emotions, but then I began to feel a far greater sense of calm and well being. In October of that year I started my blog: jamaicatradingnetwork.wordpress.com as an extension of my Facebook group and found further feelings of emotional release.
As a result of my experience, I would like to share insight about things that could help you who may be suffering from chronic anxiety and want to break the cycle. Pinpointing root causes and areas of negativity in life are a good way to start healing anxiety.
I realized that the main cause behind my anxiety was internalized anger, and I had to work through a lot of this. When I began to effectively channel this into the positive activities as described above, I began to experience greater feelings of calm.
Worry is a strong aspect of anxiety, and I realized how wasteful it can be. As I mentioned above, my worrying about how I would deal with life after my parents’ passing from this life really took a toll on me. This worry came before I dealt with my anxiety. My father passed away in May 2016 and being at a different place, I handled the news very calmly. I realized that all the worrying I had done in 2010 had achieved nothing.
Worry is useful only if it is translated into positive action. For example, if you are worried about financial difficulties, channel that energy into finding other ways of generating more income. For those who want to help a loved one to stop worrying, it isn’t always enough to tell the worrier to stop worrying. Listening to what they are saying is key. You can also help them find ways to develop fundamentally different thought patterns.
The kinds of relationships that you build have an impact on your anxiety levels. One of the challenges that I have had is being in relationships with people who are excessively fault finding. Being around people like that is a very sure way to kill your self-confidence and make you indecisive. Try to associate with people who are calming influences. Surround yourself with people who give you critical feedback without diminishing your worth.
Fear of conflict is another factor that I experienced. In certain conflict situations, I would just freeze emotionally, fearing the outcome if I stood up and challenged the people involved. There are times I would walk away when I should have stood my ground. The more I develop a sense of internal calm, the more I know that I can handle conflicts with a measure of self confidence and composure.
My anxious feelings made me into a defeatist when it came to pursuing my goals. Many times I would give up very early in the game. With a calmer mindset, I have developed feelings of determination and persistence. With my mind in a more relaxed , it automatically moves to a plan B, C or D if plan A doesn’t work out.
The difference in how I view the world in a calm state of mind versus an anxious state of mind is night and day. Perspective is truly everything.
Rash choices which can cause tremendous pain to yourself and others are made when they are made from a mind that is anxious. Rational choices are better made when the mind is in a state of calm.
There are many ways to develop a lifestyle built on “calm”. Do whatever you have to – regular exercise, meditation, enjoyable hobbies, socializing regularly with friends etc. Some of you may need to seek a doctor, counseling, or support groups. Do your own assessment, and do what works for you. Anything and everything is okay, and never shameful.
I believe that the ability to remain calm no matter what adversities are faced should be an anxiety sufferer’s ultimate goal. It may seem difficult to attain but with persistent practice over a long time, you will improve and surprise yourself when you find yourself being completely calm in situations that previously would have caused you great anxiety.
I hope that those who suffer from anxiety have found this article useful. You are not alone; your reasons for your anxiety may be similar or different from mine, but if I can go from an anxious state (ever since I can remember as a child), to one that is calm, joyful, and rational, you can too. You are in charge of your life, your story, your state of mind, and as long as you commit to developing yourself for the better, you will see results. This is my story, and I welcome your feedback.
© A. Pierre Sobers