ANXIETY | May 5

4 Things I Gave Up to Manage My Anxiety

BENJAMIN FOLEY

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”- Bruce Lee

If you are anything like I used to be, you tend to overcommit. Similar to a dog walking through a pet store, I was always chasing every new scent that crossed the precipice of my nose, never going deep on a single goal, in fear of what I may be missing out on if I did.

Even though anxiety seemed to cause 80% of my negative outcomes in life, I kept telling myself that if I just achieved an external goal, my anxiety would go away as a derivative. If you have ever tried this method, then you know how it turned out for me.

I got everything I went after. A job at a startup. A promotion. A business on the side. Lost 15 pounds. The list of achievements went on and on as my anxiety sat on the back burner, waiting to be miraculously healed through association.

TWO RABBITS = NO RABBITS

“He who chases two rabbits, catches none.” — Confucius

I distinctly remember the day when I finally had enough of this shotgun approach. I was getting ready to head on a trip out of the country on a little journey, and I was feeling anxious about it. My anxiety level was a 6/10, which a year prior I would have been ecstatic about, but a level that was still detracting too much energy and happiness from my life.

During a run the week before the trip, the frustration finally built up to the point where I couldn’t continue running. I remember stopping and being completely frustrated. I had come so far in my healing, but it was still taking away from my life. I had come to my tipping point. 

Learning how to manage my anxiety had always been an adjacent goal. One that never took center stage. When I hit the tipping point on that run, I realized that if I was ever going to achieve any external success, I had to first prioritize self-care.

What follows are a few of the things that I had to give up to free myself from anxiety. Each person will be different, and you will see tremendous results by adjusting the knobs in your life. Here are the knobs that I adjusted.

4 THINGS I HAD TO GIVE UP TO MANAGE MY ANXIETY

1. Scarcity Mindset

One of the biggest anchors keeping me from growth was how I viewed the world. I thought everything was scarce.

If I left my job, I would never find a new one, I thought. Or if I spent $1,000 on a personal development seminar, it was cash lost without a return.

However, to heal, I had to change to an abundant mindset. I had to view the world as a beautiful place that was overflowing with goodness, rather than one in which I had to hold my chips close to my chest for fear that they were the only ones I would ever be given.

Not only did this drastically help me take the steps necessary to managing my anxiety, but it has also led to exponential clarity in every facet of my life.

Start looking at what life has already given you. Not what you don’t have. For it is only when you make this change of mind that your cup will start overflowing with abundance.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol is not inherently dangerous, and I have reintroduced it back into my life, albeit at a much smaller volume. If you want to take back control of your life, it is not helping you. It is hindering you. I believe self-medicating is dangerous and will leave you much worse off. Alcohol specifically is a depressant, and the hangovers will trigger anxiety like no other.

I gave up alcohol for a full ninety days at the onset of my journey. It was an eye-opening experience, realizing just how much of my social and professional life revolved around the liquid. What was even more interesting was the responses I got from people when I told them I wasn’t drinking.

People were so offended, believing I was making some declaration against their lifestyle, which I wasn’t. I was simply being intentional about mine.

If you need a couple of beers to feel sociable, or if you struggle to talk to colleagues without some liquid courage, you should think long and hard about whether you want this dependence in your life. Depending on a substance to give you a result will lower the agency you have over your life.

Everything in moderation, but if you can’t remember the last time you went thirty days without a drink, maybe it’s worth an experiment. At the very least, you may lose some weight!

3. What Others Thought of Me

As someone who struggled with anxiety, I cared far too much about what other people thought about me.

Caring about what others think about you, or your work, is the single greatest deterrent from living the life you want.

It is a lifelong battle, but you can take small steps to start now. 

I took the advice of Brene Brown to heart by writing down a short list of people that I care what they think about my work. Some are in the creative arena, trying to build something out of nothing, and some of them are close friends. But none of them are critics vying for me to see the world “their way.”

Do the same. Create a short list of the people whose opinions matter. And forget the rest.

4. Television

Another confession, I haven’t had a TV for 15 months. What first started out of circumstance with my move to New York, carried on as an intentional way to live my life. When you have a TV, whether you mindfully are watching it or not, it will be the perfect filler for dead space. For me, I wanted to cultivate this dead space in my life.

When people ask how I read 80+ books in the last 15 months, I tell them, “It’s simple. Pull the television cord out of your wall and throw it away.”

Similar to social media, television is not helping you live a better life. I promise you.

If you love movies, then make the intentional step to actually go to the movie theater. That way, you are mindful about it.

Getting rid of my TV has been the biggest life hack I have found thus far.

DECREASE TO INCREASE

Now, I don’t believe that you need to give up everything that I did. The list above is just what I had to decrease to increase my life. Your list will be different.

It is far easier to try to add things to your life continuously, and much harder to radically delve into the dirt of life to find the weeds. But unless you find the weeds and eradicate them from your life, you will never have sustained stability. I urge you to practice what Jerry Colonna calls “radical self-inquiry,” searching for the dark areas within, leaving no stone unturned, to make life a little better each day.

It will be hard. But it will be worth it.

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Originally published at www.fullyrichlife.com.