Safety Valve

I had the pleasure of connecting with one of the Lazy Wellness readers over the phone today :) I love that I have formed a few penpal-type relationships here as folks reach out to me after a particularly relatable post (yes, you can do that - I'm here for you and I love hearing from you!!). This woman reached out because she is unfortunately struggling with anxiety, and last week's post resonated. I of course wanted to help in any way that I can.

Our conversation got me thinking about anxiety, and about the relationship to our subconscious mind. The thing about anxiety (in my understanding of it and in my own personal experience) is that it won't ever put you into actual danger. If you've had a panic attack before, take a moment to think about it - were you in a relatively safe place? Were you somewhere you could easily excuse yourself and do what you needed to do to calm down?

When I was experiencing massive panic attacks in Colorado, I was preparing for my big trip around Europe and my biggest fear was that it would hit me as I was walking down a dark alleyway in a foreign city; it would incapacitate me and put me in danger of being mugged, or worse. This never happened, of course. No, my panic attacks only happened while I was at home, or while on the bus just a few stops from my house. The worst time it happened I was driving, but was with a friend and managed to pull over and swap spots before it got too bad (actually, he patiently waited as I lay on the sidewalk for like an hour, but either way...). I've had other bouts at music festivals (I get overly excited about the Alabama Shakes - I'm not kidding, excitement can translate to anxiety in the body quite easily), or in my office in downtown Manhattan.

Because, the thing about anxiety is, the mind knows what it's doing. It's hard to accept when you're suffering from anxiety, but it is, in a sense, "all in your head." I don't mean this to sound harsh, because it's an incredibly real thing that definitely feels like it's out of your control and in fact feels like you're dying (not exaggerating). But somewhere inside you, there's a safety valve that keeps you from spiraling out of control if it would put you into actual danger.

So, some comfort in that, at least?

This "safety valve" theory applies elsewhere, too. The mind draws a line between what it considers acceptable and what is not; that line is usually related to a limiting belief. For example, there was a seemingly-endless-but-just-a-few-short-years part of my life where I flailed financially. I was lucky to have a built-in "safety net" in my family, although I never wanted to see it as that and absolutely hated relying on it. Words really can't even describe how terrible it made me feel to have to fall back on personal loans; I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall trying to make things work for myself. After years of this, my safety net went away. Even though I had never actually considered these funds "available" to me, now they really weren't available to me, and wouldn't you know it, I started making enough money to support myself. That was my safety valve. I needed that backup to disappear so I could step up my game, as there were no other options. Sometimes that's how it happens - we run out of options and have to make the change we've been dying to make for however long.…

My point is, you need to work on the subconsciously held beliefs, and that is not as easy as saying "I don't want to live with anxiety," or, "I don't want to rely on my family financially." It's about what you believe you deserve, what you believe you're capable of, and that shit runs deep. The best place to start is taking ownership - identifying the belief that might keep you stuck, turning it upside down, finding out where it came from, and starting to pick it apart until it's no longer relatable to you.

Of course, this is one layer to peel back in the onion of anxiety. Perhaps we'll keep peeling - send me your questions and experiences!