Let’s Talk About Mom Anxiety…
As a Therapist, Anxiety Expert, and fellow human who is living in this modern and complex world. I am deeply invested in helping everyday people end their toxic relationship with Anxiety. So they can live more in line with their values (the stuff that matters the most to them). I can attest to the fact that, well before 2020, Anxiety was very much a “thing”. However, the pandemic fueled the worry fire for almost everyone. And especially for us moms who found ourselves trying to juggle the impossible mental and emotional load of motherhood and career.
Before I go into the “how-to” when it comes to breaking up with anxiety, let’s review a few facts about anxiety. If you’re an old anxiety pro, great this will be review! But if you haven’t heard of taking this approach to anxiety, you’re not alone. Because SO much of what we’re told about anxiety is just…wrong. When people say things to us like “just don’t think about it, and it will go away,” or “don’t put yourself in situations that make you anxious,” or “just up your meditation game,” not only our theories misguided they also minimize the very real pain and discomfort that problematic anxiety causes.
Let’s Talk About Mom Anxiety and here are a few basic truths:
- Anxiety is a natural human emotion, in fact, it’s a helpful one, and it’s responsible for keeping us safe and alive.
- Some of us are more prone to anxiety than others, and we have both nature, nurture, and genetics to thank for that! If we went through adverse experiences as a child or are experiencing them now (hi, global pandemic) we are more likely to experience anxiety at a level that interferes with our healthy functioning. Some of us were born more prone to anxiety, due to genetics or the traumatic experiences of the generations before us. And, to put a cherry on top of this anxiety sandwich, if we had anxious caretakers, or parents, we are far more likely to struggle with anxiety ourselves.
- Anxiety isn’t the problem-but our misunderstanding of how to co-exist with it is. It’s not our fault that we don’t know how to deal with problematic anxiety, because just like everything else in life, we don’t know what we don’t know. We must give ourselves the time and grace to learn how to do new (and hard) things.
Instead of trying to just “manage” our anxiety, we need to commit to changing our perspective on anxiety. So that we can end our toxic relationship with it! Sounds great right? But how? Through changing our perspective on anxiety and taking committed and intentional action. Because at the end of the day, we want to make more space for the good stuff in life – more joy, freedom, peace, and meaning.
When working with women in my therapy and coaching practice, I want them to FIRST recognize that they aren’t their anxiety, but instead, anxiety is a part of their experience. In writing a letter to our anxiety, we gain a sense of control around how we choose to hold our anxiety and what role we will allow it to play in our precious lives. If we want to feel different, we must do something different.
Write a Letter to Your Anxiety…Here’s Mine!
I am so over you, and it’s time to end our year-long, pandemic fueled and total BS relationship. This past year has really put things in perspective for me, and I’ve realized that you are a bit crazy-making and a total peace and joy killer. The thing is, I am coming to realize that we will likely run into each other from time to time (unfortunately you part of the human condition) and so we’ll have to learn to co-exist…but that doesn’t mean I have to indulge in you, believe the crap you tell me about myself and the world or let you lead the way down my life’s path. So, here’s the deal, you can sit shotgun (if you must) but moving forward, I will be driving the car.
I know this might seem sudden to you, this whole changing our relationship thing, but I’ve been suffering under the weight of your worry for far too long, and life is just too short to keep letting you run the show. I’ve got big dreams for myself and when you tell me your lies like “avoidance of hard things keep you safe,” you keep me playing small- and I’m not here for that anymore.
So, listen up, here’s what I want you to know moving forward:
- You don’t get to be the boss! I accept that you live here too, but instead of listening to your “rules” I will make choices that line up with my values (the stuff that REALLY matters to me). It won’t be easy, I’ll make some mistakes, but I know I am capable and brave!
- I will no longer cope with your noisy and obnoxious behavior by trying to avoid you, numb you out, or distract you! I’ve realized all that does is increase your confidence in your ability to disrupt my peace – and you don’t deserve that kind of power anymore.
- When you talk (you’re kind of hard to ignore) I will allow myself to feel the feelings and the sensations that arise (the tightness in my chest, my heart beating fast, and the flash of hot panic). And then allow them to pass…I don’t have to buy into the lies you tell me, or pretend that way you make my body feel means something is “wrong” with me! And I will continue to move towards the things that mean the most to me, like pursuing the career of my dreams, saying “yes” to that new venture, taking up the space that’s mine to own, and loving my people with a big open heart EVEN when you are trying to derail me.
I can make more room for all the other beautiful things my life has to offer!
Here’s the thing, there have been times when your precautionary tales and warning signals have really helped me out. In fact, they’ve even kept me alive once or twice…and I really appreciate that part of our relationship. But the issue is, these days, you’re showing in ways that are unhelpful and confusing. And it’s sucking up all of my time and precious energy. So, we need to make a change in the structure of our relationship…I need to get some space from you. So I can make more room for all the other beautiful things my life has to offer.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to what I have to say. And thank you for reminding me of the importance of choosing my values over you (my fear). Thank you for teaching me how bold, strong, and wildly capable I am of reclaiming my life. And my way forward.
Peace out (it’s been real),
Bio: Kaitlin Soule is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Anxiety Expert, Writer, and Empowerment Coach. Kaitlin helps everyday people get out of their heads and into their lives by overcoming their anxiety and limiting beliefs! @wellnotesbykaitlin www.wellnotesbykaitlin.com