Judgment, Anxiety and Staying in your Lane

In response to a Facebook post…

Judgment is an interesting fear for me, because it took me so long to overcome it. It took me well into my 20’s to actually get comfortable in my own skin. I had a constant fear of what people thought of me, deeply rooted into a childhood where it felt like my entire, tiny school disliked me. Because my school was so small, I spent every year with the same 30 people in every class who, in my mind, hated me. While I could go over the 20+ year evolution of my coping mechanisms, this is a blog, not a book, so let’s skip a few years.

When it comes to a fear of judgment, it’s important to recognize that the judgments themselves do not matter, we’re talking about how judgments affect our feelings and behaviour. Some of what we think people are judging of us, is simply fabricated in our own minds. And even what is actually communicated judgment, doesn’t matter much if it doesn’t affect you. Unfortunately for me, it took me late into my 20’s to stop caring what people think of me.

Eventually, I had to acknowledge that if I lived my life from a place of love and respect, I could not care what others thought of me and my actions/words/appearance. If I fully approved myself and my actions, it would not phase me if someone else did not approve.

Like many things, the solution to fear of judgment is simple yet difficult. It is simple because you just need to make your judgment of yourself is so good that no other judgment matters. It is difficult because you have to actually face yourself and the parts you don’t like in order to make that happen. Only when you like these parts of yourself, can you stop worrying that others don’t. The hardest yet deepest solution is undoubtedly to face your hatred of yourself, and turn into love. You can run, but you definitely can’t hide from yourself.

The next topic was anxiety. Fortunately, my strategy for anxiety worked quite well for me, and transferred well to coping with many other fears. The most important thing about all fears and negative emotions, is that conscious thought will interrupt the emotion at the time. Let’s say a situation arises that makes you anxious, your breathing gets shallow, your blood vessels tighten, and panic starts to set in. A conscious thought can interrupt the whole process and allow you to analyze it from an outside perspective. If you suddenly recognize your own anxiety, you can look at it objectively and say to yourself “my breathing is quite shallow, I should take a deep breath”. Without a conscious intervention, you can get stuck in the anxiety quite easily and allow the tension to rise.

The second most important part in my dealing with anxiety is associating my fear/anxiety with life/death. Our brains are wired for fear as a way to keep us alive. Reminding myself that “As long as I’m alive when this is over, I’m okay.” That has always been huge for me. It’s actually what allowed me to overcome a lot of obstacles around the ages of 7-8-9. I conquered a fear of spiders, claustrophobia, and developed an endurance for running long distances, all based on this very concept. No matter the obstacle, I knew that if I could keep breathing, I would be fine. And I would often project myself forward into the future, looking back at this moment of struggle, and appreciating that it was over. This became easier over time, because that moment always came, and I made efforts to notice that what I originally struggled with, was now something conquered.

This is all easier said than done, but it all starts with a conscious intervention. Recognize your feeling, recognize it’s not serving you well, and take a deep breath to begin changing it. That’s all I got on this one.

The last one I want to cover was quoted as “Staying in your own lane, and not worrying about fake liars.” Or something along those lines. Years ago, when I first started driving, I found I had trouble driving in a straight line and managing all my micro-steering adjustments. I found that I could drive straighter if I moved my eyes further down the road. I think the same applies to this question, if you can look closer to the finish line, it’s easier to realize the chants on the sidelines really aren’t that important. This doesn’t fall too far from the judgment tree. If you are true to your values, it won’t matter much what lies or opinions cross your path, your eyes are on the prize.

Eyes forward, deep breath, you’re gonna be fine… You always are. Love!

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