anxiety support Wellness

ANXIOUS GALS GUIDE / A.G.G. POST 1: EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY AND BOUNDARIES.

Hello and welcome to the party! Thanks for joining me for post one of Anxious Gal’s Guide, which I may refer to occasionally from here as the A.G.G. (Because it sounds cooler, and we’re cool.)

Let’s get the formalities covered. You might wonder what the AGG is about and who it is for. Let me start by removing any restrictions implied. The Anxious Gal’s Guide is for anyone, of any gender, with anxious tendencies. You don’t need to identify as an anxious person, (and actually, I wish you wouldn’t put that on your identity— speak positively over yourself!) You also do not need to identify as a “Gal” by any literal sense. This guide will go through a series of reminders which may strike you as anywhere from a reminder to a revelation. The intention is to disrupt and diminish negative thought patterns. We will cover anywhere from one, two, or three per post, depending on topic. I have made somewhat a ritual of referring to these points before I begin my day. They have been so helpful in adjusting my perspective and affirming a foundational sense of control over myself and my circumstances. I have also found them grounding to revisit if and when an event of relevance has come up in life. As I have stated before, I really believe much of our internal goo is very human and much more common than what we let on. So yes, we should look at it, deal with it, and give ourselves the most power possible with our own developing qualities and potential. It is the work we do internally that requires the most wherewithal, and it can, (and will,) change your life. I hope you can find some gems of your own within this treasure chest. 

When I started creating these reminders for myself, I was feeling like my anxiety was beginning to take control of some parts of my life. I found myself avoiding things that I considered risky in any way, whether it was socially, physically, professionally, or otherwise. I also felt highly sensitive to the behavior of others, to the point where it was distracting me, and affecting my own decisions and behaviors in turn. For someone with big, juicy goals, striving to master myself, this impending cloud of anxiety felt like a death threat on everything I am working towards. These reminders became a place of reason when I felt like I was disempowering myself.

Depending on the person, anxiety can manifest in many ways. For a particularly difficult season of anxiety, or a combination of anxiety and depression, you may have experienced feeling a bit reactive. I believe we express this common tendency in many ways. Found yourself feeling on the edge and hoping someone does not provoke you today? Feeling many negative emotions bottled up, ready to spill at any moment? Wanting to just entirely recluse, until you sort some heavy stress or emotions out? This can be a challenge, because while we are feeling this way, life is going on. People are still provoking you, you have to do things you don’t feel you have the mental and emotional capacity for, and unfortunately, it’s not practical to simply step away from life’s responsibilities because you don’t feel optimally prepared. This discomfort of feeling emotionally reactive is where these first two reminders come from.

1. I am more than my emotions. My emotions are not in charge. 

Music has been so therapeutic on my daily journey towards wellness. This reminder came to me in song. I have to give Jhene Aiko her flowers for her song, LOVE, where she sings this exactly, 

“You know I could set it off, 
but I would rather use my heart. 
When I put my faith in God, 
Nothing bothers me at all, 
I am more than emotions. 
I know I am in control when, 
I am living in the moment, 
dedicated and devoted, 
praying often, staying open, 
to more love.” 

And I said—Word, sis. Sometimes you just hear what you need to hear at the right time. Side note, that whole album, Chilombo, is dripping in self empowerment anthems in a stunning range of moods. I love it.

This reminder is meant to create a comfortable space between us and our strong emotions, so that we are able to observe and evaluate them logically—rather than becoming consumed in, and therefore identifying and moving with that emotion, no questions asked. Life can be quite a turbulent ride when your emotions are driving. I have come to learn that emotions should be more of a consultant than a CEO. 

I cannot state this point without also emphasizing the fact that our emotions are both natural and insightful when they show up. They notify us of crossed boundaries, reasonable concerns, and ultimately have much to say about who we are. They are worth consulting. But after doing so, you must give yourself an objective choice as to what you do next. I have a reminder I keep on my desk, “Give responses, not reactions.” This reminds me that a reaction is not the same as a response. A reaction is thoughtless and has little consideration of your desired outcome or the way you wish to represent yourself. A response is thoughtful, considerate of the contribution it makes, and is fine tuned to represent yourself the way you’d like to.

So keep this one handy. You are more than your emotions. They are not in charge. Next time your emotions show up to suggest your next move, slow down for a moment. Then consult your logic and problem solving, your strengths and areas of confidence, your good intentions, and your highest self. 

2. I am NOT responsible for other people’s emotions/circumstances. hands off. Stop assuming self blame or an obligation to FIX. 

Oh man, this one is loaded. Let me try to unpack this as gracefully as possible. In these anxious, reactive states, I often found myself overly sensitive to the behavior of others. Someone around me would be having a bad day, I get caught in their crossfires to whatever degree, then go on a tail spin because I assume some involvement or fault. This is the absolute worst stance to take, considering people are truly fighting with themselves most of the time. The reality is, people are hardly aware of how their behavior affects others, and it likely has nothing to do with you.

We cannot carry everyone’s load, we cannot fix everyone’s issues or inconveniences, and we cannot tangle ourselves with their energy and situations just because we have come in contact with them. This reminder draws a clear line between your energy and someone else’s when you feel it is being blurred. This may seem obvious to create a space between us and others when it comes to strangers and even acquaintances. But this even goes for our partners, close friends, and family. It is important to remember we are only responsible for and in control of ourselves. Likewise, everyone else has their own obligation to themselves.

Before you put something on your back, check and see if it is yours to carry. And no, even if it is direct, crappy energy from someone, almost as if they are physically handing it to you, you do not have to accept it. Let it pass by you, (it will, I promise,) rather than tangling yourself with it.

May these two root reminders be a breath of fresh air to you during moments of frustration and emotional intensity. To some, these may sound like some basics unneeded. Okay, but just wait until you get really pissed off. They’re actually kind of useful! For everyone in the back, anger is certainly an emotion too, and it definitely has it’s own family ties to anxiety as well. Feeling overwhelmed presents in many forms, and to some, anger has been adapted for it’s seemingly assertive qualities. The truth is, control is calm. And whatever gets us there, right? Sometimes it’s as simple as interrupting our automated thought process with a good, grounding truth.

The A.G.G. will continue to introduce more reminders and good practices that center around becoming the best version of yourself. I encourage you to take whatever you need here, when you need it. Also, feel free to comment whatever reminders you use! You can also let me know if there is a topic you’re hoping will be covered in the series. 

To tune in for future posts in this AGG series, please subscribe to the blog—I’ll let you know when there’s a new read.

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