This is a story about anxiety and truly being you.
Recently, my friend had a presentation, “Being Yourself”. What surprised me was how he has approached the topic and his problems with anxiety. After the meeting, we spent some time talking about his presentation. Here is what he had to say:
“This was a presentation where I wanted to give some facts on two of my problems: having anxiety and being me. This was my way of stating the fact that not being myself — not fulfilling my needs — goes very well with anxiety”.
I asked: “Could you please clarify your statement”?
“Well, if we cannot fulfill our needs, and cannot turn to ourselves for the answers when need it then we are weak and controlled. Being controlled by others could be source of many mental problems, including anxiety. As children, we were not able to turn to ourselves, because of our age and our parents. I will explain.
Whatever we learned from our parents, peers or teachers, up to the age of five or six, went directly into our subconscious mind. When we were children we learned all these ‘scary facts’ about life from anxious people, mostly parents, and our behaviour was programmed.
Anxiety is learned behaviour. We have learned from our anxious parents many ‘scary things about life’, and we trusted them. We have learned, to some degree, that life is ‘very dangerous, not to trust anyone, not to take risks and always play it safe’. Actually, it was an ‘anxious approach to life’.
We were young, and we could not distinguish what was true and what was not. This was actually the beginning of programming us to be an anxious person. I know my anxiety started as ‘controlled scary behaviour’. As a child, we could not understand that many things are not really scary or dangerous. Unfortunately, I ‘saved the wrong picture’ in my subconscious mind of the world around me.
Today, I still can say that I am a people pleaser, not willing to confront anyone, and not able to say ‘no’ to anyone in my life. It is sad to accept that I still have the feeling that I live the life of ‘another person’, not that I really am inside. The worst problem that comes from my anxiety is that I am not self-confident, my self-esteem is low and I am suffering emotionally. I am having difficulty with ‘being happy’, which makes my personal life miserable. Do not tell me that I do not need to suffer. I know that.
The good thing is that anxiety is learned behaviour, which means we can unlearn anxious behaviour. We do not need to stay in our stuck position for ever. It will take a time, effort and professional help to unlearn behaviour from our childhood. I have already ‘unlearned’ much negativity, and I am glad that there is help available for an anxious person”.
I closed this conversation with: “Thank you for helping us to better understand people who suffer from anxiety”.