Anxiety Wants to Tell a Story

Me: What could possibly go wrong? Anxiety: I'm glad you asked!

A rush, a jolt, a ripple, a tingle. All energy. And the anxious narrator of my life, also known as my brain, wants to tell a story about it. Ascribe meaning and substance. Sometimes a sentence, sometimes a saga. The story is always set in the future and the main character is always me.

My dear, well-meaning narrator interprets energy as good = keep (maybe hoard) or bad = resist to the point of creating more anxiety.

Before I understood the nature of anxiety, I interpreted the story as fact rather than fiction. Here’s the path I came to see about the nervous energy of anxiety I experienced:

· Nervous energy – initially credit it to something, e.g., career, relationships, childhood, etc. Innocently tell stories about it for ten minutes or ten years. Naively attempt to manipulate the circumstances of my life, because I believe if the something didn’t exist, anxiety wouldn’t exist.

· Nervous energy – interpret it as an anxiety problem. Give anxiety lots of attention. Look for ways to manage anxiety. Maybe get medical help and/or incorporate self-care such as meditation, yoga, and self-compassion practices. All helpful in slowing and settling down.

· Nervous energy – All living creatures experience nervous energy. Humans tell stories about it. Sometimes the stories are so seductive we forget they are fiction.

It is interesting how we love suspenseful books and movies where we don’t know the outcome. We love the feeling of being on the edge of our seats, the intensity of our curiosity about the story. We’re all in. We want this anxiety. We want this aliveness, this energy.

Then add me or my to the story, here comes the resistance to the very same energy. Isn’t that amazing! I don’t like this plot twist.

When I finally decided to get to know anxiety rather than resist it, it helped me to see the changing nature of it. E-Motion means energy in motion. When I insist upon certain emotions over others, I create more of what I don’t want. When I “hoard” only comfortable emotions, I create resistance to anything that might be uncomfortable. In that moment, I experience the resistance, the habit of saying I can’t or don’t want to feel this.

Truth be told, I will never be the biggest fan of anxiety. I hate roller coasters. Just ridiculous contraptions. But gratefully and amazingly I’m not scared of it anymore and I’ve cancelled my subscription to its newsletter.

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