I’m a bit anxious this morning. I’m not sure why. I’ve been eating well. I’ve been exercising. I’ll just chalk it up to free-floating anxiety and dance right through it. The unrelenting voice of my inner critic reminds me of the failures of my life and the desperate outlook for my future. I have long stretches of time without anxiety, and I now realize that my inner critic is a lying bully. While there may be some truth to his words, there are lots of positives behind me and before me as well. This critic is a manifestation of anxiety.
I never knew I suffered from anxiety. I knew I suffered from depression. It was not until a counselor sent me home with a book that outlined conditions that can erode the joy in our lives. When I read the section on anxiety, light bulbs starting going off. My fear of not being good enough and my inability to fall in line with the expectations of other people was not indicative that I was permanently flawed. It was a manifestation of anxiety, a disorder of the brain. The noose loosened.
I’m still a work in progress with my anxiety. I would like to say it’s cured, but I believe I’m just wired with an anxious mind. Anxiety is the root of many addictions and compulsive behaviors. We need to soothe or numb out. It’s the only way to escape the relentlessness of our inner thoughts. It can also drive us to be high performers, so it’s not all bad. But when there is no joy in the performance, it is of little relief. I always need to perform better, look better, be different, shut up, speak up for myself, follow the damn rules and on ….. and on …. and on. The noose tightens.
In anxiety’s rulebook, I am never enough. I am always the biggest loser. But I’ve learned in God’s heart, I am enough. In fact, I am perfectly made for my purpose in life. I don’t have to strive endlessly. I don’t have to BE anything other than me. When I began to treat my anxiety by eating better, meditating and exercising regularly, I really felt the noose loosen. My spiritual practice taught me new and more loving ways of thinking and being. I learned to be more compassionate to myself and others. The voice of the inner critic faded and even disappeared at times. The noose really loosened.
The desire to create bubbled up. I never thought I was creative. I was just endlessly trying to follow the rules and standards set up before me. It was exhausting. But when I let go of that and began to heal myself, I wanted to write. I wanted to decorate my home with what I liked. I wanted to create the kind of life I wanted which was very different than the one prescribed for me. I yearned to know me better and explore what might make me happy.
I’m in a dance with anxiety and creativity. They are somewhat exclusive of each other but at the same time symbiotic. When I’m anxious, I can’t write. I can’t create. I’m too afraid that I will offend somebody or embarrass myself or not be good enough. But when I’m not tied up in anxiety, I can dream. My life feels expansive instead of small. I am free instead of leashed. I am grateful rather than afraid. I don’t ever want to go back to a life in the clutches of anxiety. I know the noose is around my neck ready to tighten. The fear of it keeps me practicing self-care. But I’ve learned to dance with it. And dancing is kind of creative, isn’t it?