Feb 07, 2018 / Anxiety
Calming Anxiety | Things I’m OK Needing
Growing up, one of our favorite things every year was our April trips to St. Simons Island. We’d take the entire month and live at the beach…every year! For us boys we loved the freedom of getting to ride our bikes around the island, skim board all over the beach, and afternoon trips to McDonald’s to try and win the peel-off Monopoly game with fries & McFlurries.
As great as these vacations were, the actual trip in the car down to the beach was usually not so fun for me. See, I was number 9 in the family of 11. This meant I usually got to sit in the third row of the big blue Suburban…double buckled…feet on the hump… (Brian Regan understands my pain.)
Another fun factor in these trips was my childhood struggle with the whole “waiting-for-the-bathroom” concept. Mix in a claustrophobic 8-hour road trip and you have a recipe for some pretty embarrassing moments.
While I grew out of this phase, the anxiety of taking road trips is something that’s stuck with me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going places, but I needed to be driving. I had to be in charge or else that panic would start rising up inside me.
At it’s worst, I shied away from simple car trips like riding with a friend to lunch. As silly as it sounds, I just couldn’t handle it. This became a joke among my family members as they all knew how much I hated riding in the car with someone else.
Anxiety can be a crippling force keeping us from doing normal everyday activities that everyone else finds easy.
For those who struggle with anxiety, I feel your pain! It can be embarrassing because you can’t begin to explain why something feels so impossible for you when it’s just not that big of a deal to everyone else.
The shame associated with our anxieties can cause us to isolate. We’re afraid of being embarrassed, of having our secret fears known, so we just avoid any possible opportunity where we could be exposed.
For years this was my coping mechanism. I genuinely thought that I could possibly avoid road trips with other people for the rest of my life without really owning my anxiety.
This all started to change for me when I began to understand the concept of loving myself. For too many years I’d been really hard on myself for my flaws, my anxieties, and my insecurities.
I learned there’s a better way to deal with anxiety…I can love myself the way I am.
One way that I began to understand this concept of self-love was through an exercise in listing the things that I’m ok needing. It’s not a self-indulgent list of things that I want or a selfish list of things everyone else needs to do to make me happy. It is a simple list of things that in general I’m ok asking for…aknowledging that I have a need…not ignoring myself but speaking up and saying something.
Things I’m ok needing
- Time alone
- Time around people
- Regular food
- Time with God every day (no agenda, no pattern, just time)
- I’m ok needing to drive when I’m in the car for long distances.
- I’m ok needing an aisle seat when I’m on an airplane.
- I’m ok needing to talk about my emotions regularly.
These are all fairly simple but they were mindset-shifting for me. For years I had told myself “suck it up…be bigger than the anxiety…don’t have needs…nobody likes a needy person”. I had this false belief that if I needed things it was a weakness and other people wouldn’t accept me.
There’s so much peace and grace when I’m actually applying this list to my everyday life. I’m a much more stable person emotionally in these times.
- Taking a 24-hour flight to Thailand was way easier when I just paid a little extra to reserve an aisle seat ahead of time.
- I really enjoy being around people…and I really enjoy some time alone. I have a lot of peace when I’m letting myself have a mix of both regularly.
- My relationship with Jamie is better when I share my thoughts and emotions instead of just bottling them up and pretending like nobody cares about me.
- My mornings are awesome when I give myself time to enjoy a cup of coffee and spend time with God.
- When I prioritize my need to get exercise I’m so much more relaxed and have a feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long day.
- I feel way less anxious about car trips now that most people in my life know I like to be the one driving.
An added bonus for me in all of this…I don’t feel this anxiety in the car as much anymore! Becuase I’m ok acknowledging that need, I don’t feel trapped in the backseat of a car. I know that if I’m feeling anxious I’m allowed to speak up!
I admit this may not be the end-all solution to anxiety…I’ve still spent hours in counseling talking about things that cause anxiety and learning how to deal with them. However, I do believe that learning healthy self-love is a huge key to calming our anxiety.
What are the anxieties that you struggle to get past? What would be on your list of “Things You’re Ok Needing”?