Anxiety Is In My Genes
This is not another “it’s my parents’ fault I am the way I am”, either. My mom was a stay at home mother for most of my upbringing. She had three kids within five years of each other and my dad traveled during the week. I didn’t know her mother very well (she died when I was very young) so I don’t know if she was that way too. I discovered many years after I had left the house that my mother had been on a little pink pill for anxiety I believe was amitriptyline. She took it until the day she left us. The only significant issues she had with anxiety were when a recent doctor tried to take her off it. It may have been a lot of the placebo effect after all that time, but I know she was faithful to it.
As a kid, I was always curious and questioned everything. I used to get out every day and play with my friends. I never had problems in social situations or any specific fears of anything. As I grew up, I may have gotten more impatient in traffic but not enough to need therapy or any medication.
On To Adulthood
I pretty much made it through my adult life by setting goals and working towards them. Short term, long term whatever. Never a formal process. Just a thought of what I wanted to do and then giving it my best to get there. Same disappointments as others. Never stopped trying. Did what I thought I should do and got a degree and went to work trying to work my way up the ladder. That’s all most kids in my generation knew to do.
The first time I remember anxiety starting to creep into my life was after I was downsized and spent a year trying to find work unsuccessfully. Because of unemployment benefits, we didn’t have to do without income for that entire year. When that year ended, I knew something had to happen. A friend of mine contacted me with an eBay proposition. I took it, built a market and business around it and things were good again. I was working every day, helping people find what they were looking for and was making decent money.
I thought I should mention that I didn’t stay at home emailing resumes either. I got out and went to every meet and greet I could while I was pursuing technical training through the State. I made sure I could put a face to every resume a potential employer got. The problem was the jobs were just at an entry level and none of the employers would consider me entry level. Plus, my training and job were more of a generalist and most HR people are looking for a dead keyword match. Only when I got to talk to the actual person I would be working for did it matter if I was the kind of person they would want to work with.
Anyway, when the eBay opportunity went away, I thought I’d just change into affiliate marketing like a new pair of pants. Boy, did I have some learning to do!
Short story, after years of struggle, I finally got to where I was making some money online. Not a ton but enough to pay some bills. It was during this time that anxiety settled in and started controlling things like my health, my overall mood, my attitude towards success and a few other tiny things too.
It’s so easy to look back and say “You should have just gotten a job, Jeff.” Hindsight is not really 20/20 like they say. Sure, I could have helped bring more money in that way but there was another issue. I was bound and determined to recreate the eBay success in another area. Do you know what I’m talking about here? It’s like getting a job would have meant I failed and that seemed more stressful to me than to keep chipping away.
I should make a side note here to tell you I started working when I was 14 years old and worked almost continuously (including college) until I was downsized. I had every job from janitor, stock boy, a few restaurant gigs, dishwasher, librarian, data analyst, wordpress developer. I’m not afraid of taking anything “beneath me” as some might say. The problem was when you’re trying to build a business you need to make sure the time you’re spending is worth what it takes away from your business. Taco Bell wasn’t going to do that.
Where I’m At Now
Fast forward a little and you’ll find me still building my business. This time, I’m engaging with an active entrepreneurial group to help me do it. Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneur Journey Insider group (now called Laptop Lifestyle Academy) has allowed me to get help on things and provide help to others at different stages of their journey.
2015 was a year of recovery for me. I had a physical issue that created a tremendous amount of anxiety but I’ve come a long way to getting past it. I now go wherever I need to (including the YMCA) and engage with humans. I’ve been through therapy and have come out much better for it. Not just getting back to where I was before 2015 but really figuring out what was going on all the rest of the time I was anxious. I’m on a low dose antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication that I will be weaning myself off of very soon.
I’ve reached out and gotten help from people I do business with and I believe 2016 is going to see a return to profitability in my business. I’ve discovered I still possess a unique ability to get to the heart of a problem and help people find a way around it. Whether it’s visualization, meditation, positive psychology or strict process improvement, I can take a look at an entrepreneur’s life and suggest strategies to help them a) get clear on what they really want and b) help them find ways to get it. This is the most rewarding part of my business!
My Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety
- If you are unable to function, please seek medical/psychological help. I say both to make sure you’ve had a recent physical to rule out any non-behavioral issues that may be making you anxious, confused, sad, etc. If none, than see if you can find a therapist in your area who you can interview and see if there’s a fit. I’m not a big fan of anything that sounds like a long drawn out process but if your issues are severe enough it may take a little while. Here’s a quick Psychology Today article on when you should consider therapy.
- Begin a practice of twice a day meditation. You could try meditations from either the Chopra Center, Headspace or TM. I have never done TM but I currently do a morning Headspace meditation and an evening Chopra one. This will help calm your mind and let your brain start working on solutions in the background. There are so many benefits of meditation, that I don’t see how anybody can afford NOT to do it! I feel that strongly about it!
- Make a habit of finishing and beginning your day by writing down what went right for you and what didn’t. The morning one is usually easier but don’t be fooled. You often will have more clarity about what happened the day before after you’ve slept. However, the nighttime one is important to get things off your mind and onto paper. It releases your brain to work on repairing your body and other important nightly tasks.
- Don’t forget to take moments out of every day where you just stop and notice what’s going on around you and inside you. Don’t judge anything. Just feel it for a little while. It can be as little as one minute or as long as you feel comfortable doing it.
- Make sure you schedule time each week where you get out and see and interact with other humans. It can be tricky for introverts but will pay huge dividends towards your overall health!
The Tip of the Iceberg
Obviously, these strategies are just an overview of things you can do to work with (not against) your anxiety. I’ll leave the technical process to your confidant/counselor/therapist. The main thing I want to get across here is anxiety is not something that you have to fight with to defeat. Nor, is it something that is so unusual as to label yourself. I haven’t met a human yet who does not deal with anxiety at some level. Some people eat, smoke, take drugs or they use creative writing to deal with it. It’s not a life sentence either. Finding a healthy way to work through your particular anxiety is key. One size does NOT fit all! What works for your best friend (bungee jumping) may not work well for you at all. The main thing is to try SOMETHING and if it doesn’t work well, keep trying other things until you find your outlet.
Talk to Me
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To your success,