This morning I had plans to meet a dear friend for coffee. We’re usually quite casual and flexible with each other, especially when it comes to timing. We almost expect our meetings to start and end a little later than the original arrangement.
Today was no different; I was running behind schedule. I found myself anxious and scrambling to get to the cafe on time. Around 10 minutes before I left my apartment, I texted to let her know I’d be leaving soon. And she quickly replied, “No rush!”
But I still felt rushed. I noticed my anxiety getting worse as the minutes passed by. My breath shortened and my pulse quickened. I wasn’t fully present to what I was doing because I was worrying about the future. It was an uncomfortable feeling that was completely self-induced.
Then I did do something different. I paused and realized I was creating unnecessary pain through my fabricated sense of urgency. My friend wasn’t in a hurry. Her text granted me permission to take the time I needed to get to her safely. So why was I stressing myself out over nothing? Simply noticing my reaction helped to significantly reduce my nervousness, if not eliminate it.
It’s so easy to project toxic thoughts and emotions into the stories of your day, often without it. Here are some examples that come to mind:
If the guy you’re dating doesn’t reply to your text message after 15 minutes, you start telling yourself he lost interest and probably started seeing someone else. You feel sad until 15 minutes after that he gets back to you like nothing changed.
You freak out on Wednesday night because no one signed up for your Thursday morning Pilates class. Your evening is spent feeling like a failure, and you believe they must not like your teaching style. But you show up to the studio the next day to find 3 people registered and 3 more dropped in at the last minute.
A colleague seems quieter than usual. She cancels your happy hour plans at the last minute. In your mind, she must be mad at you for something. You spend the day bummed out, trying to figure out why. Later that night, she informs you that her cat is sick and she needed to be home with her.
Think about all the time and energy you’ve wasted worrying about things that don’t exist. How much of your day are you spending in the past or future, participating in a narrative that only hurts you?
So much pain can be avoided by being accepting and present. Sure, you’re human and it’s natural for your mind to wander into fantasy land. But I encourage you to pause and notice your anxieties. Can you pinpoint where they’re coming from? Is it something real that you should take action on, or is your imagination running wild?
Even if the worst case scenario is true, your anguish isn’t serving you. You’re better off letting it go and letting it be. It’s probably not personal. Trust that what is happening is right...because it IS.
If you’re anything like me, you run a little bit anxious. Anxiety can be debilitating at times because it feels like there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But perhaps you do have the power to put it to a halt. Wouldn’t you say it’s worth a try?
I hope you’ll join me in this approach to living a joyful and anxiety-free life. Together, let’s encourage each other to step back and get curious about our feelings and the stories behind them. By letting go of judgement and observing from a space of inquiry, it’s easier to connect the dots around your anxieties. Sometimes one connection is all it takes to shift the storyline and start a new chapter; one where you’re empowered and life is working in your favor.
Take action today! Slow down. Listen to what you’re saying to yourself and others. Connect with your breath. Release what doesn’t serve you. Choose to see the positive. And welcome yourself back to the present moment where life is really happening.