Sometimes I get really anxious and insecure.
I know you’re shocked.
It’s not like I write about it nearly daily here. (Ha!)
Often my anxiety and insecurity triggers are social interaction (or lack thereof). It used to be, when I would get sideswiped by thought spirals that told me I was a burden and no one wanted to hear from me and no one liked me and I should isolate myself, I just did that. Isolated myself totally. I’ll admit, I still occasionally actually do that, and I’m often tempted to do it. But about 7 years ago, through reading and talking with J, I’ve developed a strategy that normally works to relieve some of that insecurity and anxiety.
I deliberately practice gratitude.
7 years ago, when I started employing this technique, I made a goal for myself that I would write a personal thank you to each person who had ever done something for me that helped or calmed me or made me feel loved, accepted, and safe.
It was both extremely difficult and effortless.
Actually writing things was the effortless part. It was the actually sending it to the person it was written for/about that was the hard part. I was (of course) worried that they didn’t want to hear from me. That they thought I was an annoying, overbearing sap. That I was opening myself up and being vulnerable and sentimental and it was embarrassing. For me, but perhaps more so for them. Despite the chiming, incessant voice of social anxiety, I did send the thank yous out, but social anxiety immediately told me this ridiculous action on my part was going to cost me friends. Social Anxiety told me all of them would receive and read my carefully worded, soul loaded and heartfelt messages of gratitude to them, and would then say to themselves, or out loud to someone they ACTUALLY valued and cared about, or maybe even TO ME something along the lines of, ‘Can you believe this shit?! Why would she talk to me at all, and then she does and she says…THIS shit?!’
But then an amazing thing happened. I sent the messages. To literally every person I could find a way to reach who did something meaningful for me to make me feel loved, accepted, safe, supported, encouraged, or valued. And I have a pretty damn sharp and far-reaching memory, so it (for me anyway) was a lot of people. And like I said, I expected to be ignored (and I was by a lot of people, honestly), but that was actually the Best Case Scenario in my head. That I’d be overlooked entirely. Or (worst case…which was at least equally expected), I’d be ridiculed. Either privately or publicly. Either behind my back or to my face. But WRITING the messages was helpful and made me feel good. And sending them was brave. It was taking action in open combat with Social Anxiety. So I did it. And not one single person ridiculed me. Well, maybe some of the folks who I assumed ignored me ridiculed me privately and behind my back, but I found myself not thinking of them at all, because that potential was far outmatched and overshadowed by surprising reality.
What really happened was a lot of people positively responded to me.
I got soul loaded and heartfelt responses BACK from people, some of whom were genuinely surprised that something small they did for or with me even registered as something that significant to me, and even more surprised I told them so. Many of them were touched. Some of them were people I hadn’t spoken to in years, and my message of gratitude actually rekindled a dormant positive relationship. A lot of them thanked me for my thank you.
And it REALLY turned the anxiety and insecurity around for me.
So for those of you readers who have made some personal contact with me…if you ever receive a message from me that seems out of the blue that’s full of compliments and gratitude, you can be sure of a few things:
- I mean it.
- You really made a difference in my life when you said/did whatever it was you said or did to or with me.
- I’m probably feeling extra anxious and insecure that day.
- And you are helping me AGAIN…a repeat assist…by receiving my gratitude to alleviate the anxiety and insecurity.
Gratitude and positivity are very powerful things for me.