In my experience the feelings of anxiety and fear can be helpful, when I listen they point me in the direction that is going to lead me to a better life. When I say better for me that means more joy, less stress, more freedom and fulfillment in the day to day. I’m aware that there are varying levels of anxiety and fear and that everyone will experience things in a different way so I will keep to my own experience with these two feelings in the hopes that if you experience them in the same way you might be able to benefit.
Anxiety and fear seem to run in the same circle and could even potentially be confused for the same feeling. Anxiety arises in me when I feel like I'm doing something that I know I shouldn't be doing or not doing something that I know I should be doing. As humans and individuals we all have different preferences and ideas for how we would like our life to look and feel, and when we act against these feelings we feel anxious. For example if you have a test to study for or a deadline to meet and you spend the entire weekend watching tv, the more time you let go by not taking action towards the task that you know you need to do the more anxiety will build. I used to experience this often in school, waiting until the last minute to start working on a project and these tendencies carry forward into the rest of our life. We procrastinate and say “I’ll do it tomorrow” and the anxiety starts to build as we continue to not do the hard thing that is going to make our life better.
I used to experience anxiety at having to wake up and go to work. This might be a feeling that you're familiar with, and why did I feel anxious because I knew that I wasn't in the career for me. You can tell yourself things are fine, but your body and feelings can only be repressed for so long. I started to listen to my body when I would feel anxious. I noticed that I would often feel anxious before doing something I knew I didn't really want to do or after a few days of not taking action towards the goals I was telling myself I wanted. Don't deny your anxious feelings, listen to what they are telling you and take action. I can’t speak to the specifics of what’s causing you anxiety in your life, but there is likely a reason you're experiencing it and if you stop for a second and do a little reflection I can guarantee the answer isn't buried too deep in your subconscious.
Like the feeling of anxiety I learned that fear was a tool, a tool to be harnessed to grow into a better person. When I feel fear around something I can confidently say that that is the thing I need to do to grow as a person. Our fears are personal and as individual as we are, so you will need to listen to yourself. I’m not talking about the fear that keeps us safe from danger although they come from the same place I'm talking about the fears that we build up in our minds that keep us from taking the action that is necessary to becoming the person we desire to be. The fear of an uncomfortable conversation, of quitting a job you hate, of taking a trip that could change your life. Our fears surround us and can keep us trapped playing the same story over and over, but I’ve learned that when you confront your fear, you grow and that thing you feared has less power over you. It’s not always something big, but when you face a fear it will feel big to you and you will know that you are moving in the right direction.
If I feel fear I know I have to face it, and every time I do I grow and become better equipped to face the next fear. On the opposite end of the spectrum when I let my fears control my day I become anxious because I know that I’m not doing what I can, and that I’m shrinking away from who I want to become. If your’e experiencing fear or anxiety in your life listen to what those feelings are trying to tell you, because they're coming up for a reason.
If you want to grow and become the best version of yourself start by doing one thing that scares you and then find the next thing that scares you and the next…
“It’s not about being fearless, it’s about acting in spite of fear.” -Veronica Roth