As much as I wanted to, I realised that there are some things that are more important. Although I’ve been talking a lot on this blog about discipline and the need for it, to grow as a person, it shouldn’t be without a sense of self-awareness. A knowledge of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the what you’re getting from it. It’s also important to be aware that things done with good intentions can have negative effects as well. Taking a break from a lot of my routines this last couple of weeks has given me some much-needed space to question if what I’m doing is still a benefit, and if not, what corrections I can make along the way. I have definitely made some mistakes this year.
Trying to look after oneself and address issues like anxiety is a process that takes a long time and one that, by definition, can be very selfish. The mistake I made was ignoring some relationships, one very important one in particular, and prioritising my own time and selfish routines. I saw the relationship as a distraction when the answer was right in front of me all along.
Two weeks ago I wrote about my experiences with anxiety. Speaking openly and publicly about my experiences with anxiety was a tough thing for me to do. Not just because it’s embarrassing, but because it’s hard to face. Hard to quantify. Hard to explain to yourself, let alone others. It’s an entirely alien experience for anyone that hasn’t had to deal with it, yet it has become an intrinsic part of who I am.
Yet, however hard it was, I’m so glad that I wrote about it. Not only does writing about it help me face it, but it also helps others in similar situations. In the days after writing that post, I received dozens of messages from people, either thanking me for writing it or confiding in me their own experiences with anxiety. That feedback alone was an amazing experience and one that has only encouraged me to write more about it in the future.
The downside of confronting anxiety was that it brings it to the surface, and after years of suppressing it, it came to light in a big way last week. I had a panic attack just before an appointment at the hospital (I guess there are worse places to be). As unpleasant an experience, it was at the time, it wasn’t anything new, and I knew to expect it and that it is part of the process. Things often get harder before they start to get better.
So far each day of this month I have been meditating using the Headspace app for 20 minutes. Mostly in the morning, but whenever I get the opportunity. It’s early days so far, but I’m starting to get a feeling of benefit from it. To begin with, I was a bit restless throughout the process, but I think that’s mainly due to the fact I haven't meditated regularly for a long time. Plus 20 minutes of sitting still and focusing on your breath can be a long time if you're not used to it.
The big thing that meditation gives in regards to anxiety is space. It’s important to realise that one can never be free of anxiety, it's an important part of the mind and key to keeping us safe. It becomes a negative when it starts affecting your way of life and stopping you doing what you want to do.
Having a sense of self-awareness is hugely important to grow as an individual. Knowing your weaknesses and realising one’s flaws is essential if you want to then move past them. Having a routine and working to improve yourself is important, so long as it is still working and actually giving you some benefit.