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The High of Anxiety

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
posted in Women's Health

I feel electrified by anxiety today. On the one hand this makes me feel very alive and energized. On the other hand I feel like jumping out a – figurative – window to end the frayed feeling just like Mel Brooks in the movie “High Anxiety.” I’ve done enough work on myself that I can finally make the choice to use the anxiety to create wonderful new things rather than be caught in the swirling spiral but this has not been an easy lesson to learn.

Most of us, fortunately, live in a day-to-day state of equilibrium where we are not too excited or too flat. It is this balanced state that supports us in getting done what we need to do and keeping our lives on track. So, usually when we get hit by a big dose of anxiety we quite naturally scramble to regain a position of stasis. We want so much to feel that sense of comfort that comes when the waters are calm and the boat is steadily sailing along.

I totally get the desire to be sailing through calm waters and have good skills for doing so. Only problem is it does not help me navigate a storm. I used to fight the storm so valiantly that I could actually space myself out without the benefit of old fashioned barbiturates – Michael Jackson eat your heart out. While this worked splendidly to assure not tipping the boat over it also insured an all too predictable course.

For much of my life this predictable course stuff was perfect for survival. But I could not really grow and develop new ways of being without entering into uncharted waters that were often a bit rough and brought me to the brink of my comfort zone. I found myself up against two very powerful forces – on the one hand I was driven to grow and shake things up, on the other hand my emotional stability depended on me keeping my equilibrium.

The only solution was to learn to be comfortable in discomfort. Which brings me back to the beginning of this story. I have been feeling amazing waves of anxiety for almost a week. For the first 24 hours or so I was having a little mini tantrum, wishing it would stop and I could get back to my calm way of being. I realized that it was not going away and I was beginning to space myself out – obsessive net surfing, lack of focus on to-do list, over involvement in the lives of my friends, etc., etc., etc. And then something clicked in. I began asking what I could create with all the energy. It was wonderful to begin creating – connections, writing and relationships. Instead of being tired and a bit down I started feeling energized and alive. The anxiety still needs channeling; I need to rest and eat right but I’m embracing it and creating all sorts of wonderful things.

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