The hard part about anxiety is accepting it as a condition you actually have.
Because nobody likes hearing they have something. Or that there’s a clinical label to apply to their brain. Especially if society stigmatizes that label.
Anxiety, depression, panic, mania? Nope, those are conditions that other people suffer from, not me.
Meanwhile, some medical professionals won’t push acceptance as a requirement for treatment.
While skimming through a bipolar disorder journal in a doctor’s office recently, there was a piece about physicians who said their patients were willing to accept the pharmaceutical interventions, as long as doctors did not require them to accept the label as well.
Who ever said denial wasn’t a useful part of the human coping mechanism?
In my experience, though, accepting my anxiety as a real, urgent, pervasive and expensive problem not only informed me about my condition, but also empowered me to build a toolkit to help manage it. What’s more, learning that anxiety is not who I am, and that my condition may be part of me, but it’s not the heart of me, went a long way towards healing.
If there’s one thing my nametag has taught me, it’s that just because something identifies you, doesn’t mean it defines you. To quote the famous journalist, if you’re anxious, you’re not crazy, you’re not a machine with broken parts, you’re a human being with unmet needs.
The other reason acceptance is so important is because managing anxiety, or any mental condition for that matter, is a difficult process. And it never goes away. It’s your permanent companion.
Once you accept it, you have to make a lifelong commitment to healing yourself, undertaking a significant project that involves changing your lifestyle and behavior.
Reminds me of a fascinating survey that interviewed five thousand people about their happiness. They listed ten habits that were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction:
Giving, relating, exercising, appreciating, learning, direction, resilience, optimism, acceptance and meaning.
Sure enough, acceptance was found to predict happiness most strongly. And ironically, acceptance was also revealed as the one habit that people tend to practice the least.
Here’s the question participants were asked in that category.
How often are you kind to yourself and think you’re fine as you are?
If you’re suffering from anxiety or some other complicated condition, consider your own answer to that question.
And if your healing journey seems to be puttering along at a snail’s pace, perhaps greater acceptance is the missing piece.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s a part of you that isn’t the heart of you?