Anxiety and I go back a long way. Fear has been a constant companion, if not a friend. Panic attacks have ruled me and fight-or-flight characterized my behavior. Thanks to 12-step recovery groups like Al-Anon, I use past tense. I am learning to take care of myself so negative feelings don’t control me. Here’s how.
Cast out false fear. My old modus operandi was others-driven. I lived in constant fear of upsetting, angering, disappointing and failing. Fear consumed, overwhelmed and exhausted me. I got physically ill. Fear will always be my most challenging nemesis. Combating it means stepping way outside my comfort zone. But if I don’t, the zone only gets smaller. Self-care means bearding my lions.
Get a new scale . The old me scrutinized my every thought. I second (third and fourth) guessed every decision. I continually weighed my abilities and found myself wanting. Sins and flaws, I found in abundance. Then I realized I was using faulty scales. I was overrating shortcomings and undervaluing achievements.
Accept failings. Overcoming fear means realizing that some failure is unavoidable. But it doesn’t make me a failure.
Live and let live. I will sometimes disappoint or anger people. I can seek reconciliation. If it’s accepted, fine. If not, that’s the other party’s choice. I did what I needed to and can take the good feelings.
Deflect projection. What I see as my failings is sometimes someone scapegoating me. If someone is making me responsible for her problems, I can refuse to accept it. She can keep projecting or stop. Either way, it doesn’t hurt me because I know where it comes from.
Get a new mirror. My mirror shows me always at my worst, compared to others always at their best. Or to the image they want me to see. So I always appear the screw-up while others seems flawless. I have to accept that even if I can’t recognize it, everyone fouls up occasionally.
Act in your best interests. People fail, disappoint and anger me. If it’s occasional and not too hurtful, I can forgive and continue the relationship. If it’s habitual or egregiously unkind, I may need to move on. Regardless, I can make healthy choices based on what’s good for me.
Take the wheel. Old thinking said I must compensate for perceived wrongs, even if they aren’t mine. I trusted unsafe people and obeyed, even if I knew it was dangerous. I still worry that doing what’s best for me, may offend others. It might. That’s their problem.
Learning new self care habits won’t come easy. Just keep practicing, one day at a time. You are worth it.