Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Before you read on, this blog post is available as 'Episode 1 - My Anxiety Story' over on The Holistic PT Podcast as an audio clip.
I’ll never forget the very first time one of my clients came to me to let me know that she had weaned herself of her anti-anxiety medication simply by being with me and inside the community I had created for women to shine, honour and reclaim themselves, drip by drip, at every session.
Since then, those messages of gratitude and radical change are abundant. Without realising it, the work I’ve been doing all of these years has reached into the souls of the women I work with and tugged hard at their heads and hearts.
My intention is to share the ways of my journey. Not to tell you what to do, or to fix or cure you. I’m here to share and be the person I needed many years ago, for any person who needs this now.
It has taken me 6 years to find the courage to raise my voice and it’s both beautiful and fitting that I kickstart the conversation with something that was the ultimate catalyst for me in unraveling my entire identity, a journey that really allowed me to step into and honour myself and who I always have been, an ever evolving human who feels and think deeply, cares passionately and is obsessed with helping others do the same work.
Most people would start this conversation with what anxiety is and their idea of how to ‘fix it', but I know it's much more complex than that.
My favourite thing to start any conversation with is, why.
If you experience big or small feelings of anxiety, then why - why it matters that you keep reading today, is critical.
It matters because you matter, period.
If you wish to create or obtain any degree of success in life, it matters.
It matters for healthy relationships and most importantly, relationships with beautiful communication including the ability to share your feelings and hold space for one another.
It matters for your confidence and decision making skills. Us anxious humans tend to worry about all the ways our decisions could negatively impact our lives or the lives of others.
It matters if we insist on breaking the cycle in our family units. If we want to sever the passing down or passing on of un-healed, heavy, big, anxious experiences, feelings and trauma, this is critical.
My friends, this work has enabled me to build a 6-figure business and help women overcome the heavy parts of life while allowing them to also thrive through the light and flowy parts, too.
Learning the skills, becoming the skills, will help you, that is the bottom line.
Second to this, your ability to help yourself enables you to help others in their deep depths of despair and worry.
Becoming a self-healer empowers the world, including yours. We all benefit from this work.
Let's get a little traditional and create some context and meaning around what anxiety is.
Perhaps you have heard this one before...
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Traditionally, anxiety is labeled as;
"An indictor of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming and start to interfere with daily living. This includes feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome."
Untraditionally, because hey, that’s what I'm most interested in;
This is my definition.
"Anxiety is an experience, a learned belief or series of beliefs developed in exchange of an experience or traumatic event as a child or adult human being, who couldn’t at the time, emotionally process or comprehend what they were feeling or what was happening."
In other words, in the past we may have experienced something that we had really big feelings about or that we couldn’t quite understand, or process rationally or logically and now we are attaching these feelings to our current experience.
This is true for me and my anxiety story.
This is also true for me and perhaps you want to write this one down.
"How we define anxiety is how we define ourselves."
However we define our anxiety, becomes our identity, our story. If this is true, we can change our story and ultimately change our identity, and our attachment to it.
Before we turn the page onto my anxiety story, I want to share a few key sentences that may support you in overcoming yours.
In overcoming anxiety, unlearning is required and a new way of thinking is critical.
If you account for failure in your plan, you have no reason to give up when you lose sight or become unstuck to the journey.
In acknowledging anxiety, you acknowledge a way forward.
The world benefits from you doing this work.
You wouldn’t believe the possibility available to you if you sought out an unconventional coach or holistic psychologist to support your journey.
Take up all the space you need.
I also have 8 untraditional pillars that I’ve come to fully appreciate and understand their positive impact and influence over the mind and ultimately, our ability to keep our heads above water, especially when the world has all but swallowed you hole.
THE 8 PILLARS
What you’re eating and where it’s sourced.
How often and the way you move your body.
Hydration and where it’s sourced.
How often you’re connecting to your breath.
The quality of your sleep.
The tracking of your natural cycles and bodily rhythms.
How often you put your head into the pages of your journal.
The people you spend your time with and the topic or theme of those conversations and experiences.
These are topics I will cover on the podcast however, please understand they are critical support components for our mind.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF MY ANXIETY STORY.
It was a moment in time that freed me.
On this particular day (roughly 6 years ago) I had a coaching call with my (still) mentor, Amber Hawken (you definitely want her in your IG feed).
I remember we were riffing on the elements of certainty and uncertainty and out of nowhere (she definitely saw it coming...) we identified my learned anxiety. It was so profound, we both just held space and took it in.
This moment was the moment my life profoundly change.
When I started with Amber, I was too anxious to even face-time her for our sessions. I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t make the call and I would get nervous and even put on a facade ('I'm really good! How are you!?') when she called.
In hindsight, I was afraid of the life I couldn’t yet see for myself, because it meant everything had to change for me to arrive there.
And I was right.
What I didn’t know then, was how that work would literally bring tears to my eyes with gratitude.
If there's one thing that gets me to act in any situation where I feel stuck or afraid, it is this. The thought of going back to that life before Amber. Before growth and radical change.
This journey of radical reclamation was like a vortex of deconstructing everything I had ever learned about life and myself, and reconstructing it on my terms. That exact journey led me here, to these pages, to you.
WHERE DID I LEARN ANXIETY?
My friend, my anxiety was born out of environment, existing among an authority figure who had an innate, paternal instinct to see me safe and protected.
I have always been a deep thinker, feeler, and I always take my time to process the world around me. The childhood and adolescent environment that I was privy too, was an environment processed by a little kid who didn’t really know the difference between being afraid and unconditional love.
Have you ever loved something or someone so much, you would do anything to protect it? A pet, loved one, family member, your own child or children?
This was (and still is) my dad.
I knew from as early as I could remember, he would do anything to protect and keep me safe. He did this out of unconditional love (which mean't I also learned what unconditional love felt like).
But I also learned to worry like he did. My childish brain perceived his unconditional love as a way to love and be anxious.
For me, when he said things like; ‘make sure you lock your doors’ or ‘don’t go past the front gate’, or ‘stay off the road’. My brain perceived this as a warning sign, rather than a precaution. I still remember having big feelings when he said things like this.
As a kid, I hadn’t yet learned to process my emotions let alone, have the emotional awareness to notice I was anxious. As a result, I desperately needed certainty and I did this by trying to control everything, even as a young adult.
So when I was bullied at school, when I was in a relationship that didn’t serve me, when I needed to fly on a plane, when my phone rang - I couldn’t always do what others did.
I had really big feelings.
I worried, I tried to predict what would happen, what they would say, why they were calling, if the plane would make it.
I was on a constant search for certainty, safety and security. I needed to know that everything would be OK.
Spontaneity didn't exist for me until I was 25.
Friends, I needed to be in control and have the perfect plan at all times. If I didn't, I wouldn’t do the thing I needed to do or go where I needed to go or be who I needed to be. I couldn’t even see what I needed to do in order to make change.
OVERCOMING YOUR ANXIETY.
This is your first move.
Becoming the observer of your mind and begin taking radical responsibility for your next one.
You don’t need to know the birthplace of your anxiety to begin to heal and move away from it’s confinement.
You can start here, by listening to my podcast, or seeking out people like myself who have found a way to overcome big things. People who talk about how they won. What they have to say will most likely resonate with you and that's most important if you wish to change your life.
I believe there is so much power in watching somebody take their struggles and move through them. Gravitate towards those people, sign-up to their newsletters, watch their youtube videos.
If you’re anything like me you will want to take your time to make good choices here, but it's more important to make a choice now, and change it later if need be.
Today, I have a podcast.
I own a women’s gym called Mind & Body Performance Newcastle, dedicated to women in struggle and hardship, and in 2020, I'll be launching my first ever online women's mentorship. And I'm only just getting started.
To create change, we must be the change. We must act, embody and consistently move through what stands in our way before we can find the other side.
We must become aware of our habits, behaviours, thoughts, patterns, triggers, environments and obstacles.
We must notice those who support us and those who do not.
We must speak up and hold space, only you can do that.
We must be afraid, even if it’s only a little, to extend the threshold of our comfort.
We must keep our heart open and in full receivership of love and life.
There is more to your version of normal and reality.
You are allowed to show up differently, even if you yourself or the people you love are used to you showing up as someone else.
There is no finish line. Your work is forever.
You have time and it will pass either way.
The world is not designed to support your change, but you are and it is your right as much as it is your job, to do this work, no matter what.
Take up as much space as you need.
Remember, how we define anxiety is how we define ourselves. I think it's a true privilege to have such opportunity.
SUPPORTING THOSE IN ANXIETY
If you know somebody experiencing anxiety;
Please share this post with them
Please hold space for them
Please do not try to fix them. They are not broken, they are learning. Your role as a bystander is to support and love them unconditionally.
If you are currently weaving your way through your own anxiety remember, what we seek in anxiety is proof and certainty. Proof it’s possible and certainty you won’t fuck up or die trying.
I am both.
I am proof it’s possible, and that you will not only not die trying, but that you can release your control and begin to live a very different life.
I’m excited to unravel all of the above as we move through each episode of my podcast, for you, for me, and for the world.