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Building A New Relationship With Anxiety

For as long as I can remember, anxiety has always been a presence in my life. Even as young as four and five, I would worry all the time. When I was eight years old, I read the 1980 Better Homes and Gardens Family Medical Guide cover to cover. I read every word of that book detailing every condition at length. So much so that, one by one, I had every symptom. This book was the WebMD of the 80s.

I began struggling to sleep at night. My mind would wander, “What was that feeling in my lower left foot? Gout? Arthritis? Cancer?” The intrusive thoughts always ended up at the big C. No amount of logic would help soothe me. My mother would remind me that at my age, the likelihood of developing gout, arthritis, or cancer with my symptoms was pretty close to zero percent. But that would just send me spiraling even more. Having such high-intensity anxiety at such a young age made it hard to discern what fear was real and what fear was perceived.

That little girl is now 42, and that pattern has followed her into adulthood. This week, I found myself lying awake at night worrying about my routine annual bloodwork. “What if my cholesterol is high? What about pre-diabetes? What could it mean if I have an elevated white blood cell count?”

Being part of the Dovetail team and helping develop the We Are Resilient approach has been a game-changer. Over time and with much practice, I began transforming my fears from an overwhelming burden into something I could handle.

Daily resilience practices allow me to use the Resilient Mindset of Curiosity and ask myself, “Why does my Protective Pattern of Hypervigilance have me on edge? Is this fear real? Is the lion actually about to pounce? Or is this a perceived fear that is not there?” Instead of allowing the intrusive thoughts to take over, I can be in a relationship with them without my former feeling of shame. I now use the Resilient Mindset of Choice and use the Centering Skills of Breathing Mindfully or Letting Go of what is out of my control.

That doesn’t mean I no longer have anxiety. To this day, it can creep up at the most interesting moments. I will find myself sometimes putting off the most mundane medical procedures out of fear or gazing at my loved ones, wondering what unknown medical condition might be lying under the surface.

We Are Resilient is not a magic wand that removes my anxieties with a flick of the wrist. But it has helped me create practices to be the person I want to be in this world. When I am more centered, the joys of life come easier, and I can better connect with others.

Could resilience practices help you, too, reduce anxiety?

Kristie and the Dovetail Team