By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist
I don’t have much respect for anxiety. My own anxiety is ridiculously annoying. I was never an anxious person until that cancer diagnosis came from out of the blue. Now I worry about my health all the time. I have read that anxiety serves a purpose: to keep you aware of potential danger, but when you really think about it, anxiety just keeps you in a perpetual state of worry. That can’t be healthy, it just can’t. So I’m doing what I can to kick anxiety out of my head, out of my house, out of my life.
I was recently told about a person who will say, “shut up!” loudly, whenever her anxiety comes creeping along. I love that. I like the idea of telling the voice in my head, the one that keeps advising me to brood over the denial I’m obviously in, about the disease I probably have, to just SHUT UP. If I have to say it out loud, no problem, I’ve been caught talking to myself before. When you see me mumbling out of the corner of my mouth, just ignore me.
There are lots of external ways to deal with anxiety. Topping the list is exercise and eating lots of vegetables. Those can be counted on to cure all kinds of things. My most unique trick came from my friend LuAnn who introduced me to a Tibetan singing bowl. She and I went into a little shop full of metal bowls of all sizes, each with its own mallet that you use to gong the bowl. I was skeptical, but LuAnn said that as I gonged each one of these pretty bowls, I would find the one that resonated with me. She was right. I felt a beautiful sense of calm when I listened to the note, tone and vibration of one of the bowls that I held in my hand, so I bought it. I find that it only takes 3 gongs to bring about a peacefulness that never disappoints me. It’s a lovely thing, and its quick.
The thing I have found that quiets my anxiety best is anything that reminds me of the inner strength I have. Some people question whether or not they have inner strength. Maybe they haven’t had any reason to call upon it yet, but we all have it. Thing is, it just sits there politely and doesn’t speak up until its needed. Whiny anxiety over there has never considered being so solicitous. Once you call upon your inner strength, you will find that it has a roar that will leave you feeling empowered and capable, not vulnerable and fearful. It’s a pretty admirable character. I like it.
So, I seek out reminders that allow me to see my buddy, inner strength, sitting there on the bench…waving… I have a hat that my friend Ellen gave to me with a slogan that says “Fight Like A Girl.” I wore it throughout my illness and I still wear it when I need to feel feisty in the face of some new worry. I have some bracelets that I wear with sayings written on them that also remind me that I have a lot of inner strength. My husband fiddles with his wedding ring when he’s looking for his. It reminds him of his family and he finds that comforting and strengthening.
I need to work on finding some internal ways of calling up my inner strength. I like wearing my jewelry, my hat, gonging my bowl, but I’m now looking for that thing that kicks in automatically when my mind strays to that worrying place. What if I still have cancer? What if I have some other illness? What will happen to my family? Maybe I should look up symptoms? Or maybe I should just … SHUT UP.
How do you find your inner strength?