**“Balance begins by knowing how you feel but not being so swayed that you are ruled by every passing incident of anger, worry or resentment.” –**Deepak Chopra
Since childhood, I’ve struggled with frequent bouts of anxiety and panic. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if my predisposition to worry began in utero. (As a fetus, I probably worried incessantly about whether or not I was developing properly.) My anxiety has played such a dominant role in my life that, at times, it’s become all-consuming.
But I work at it—each and every day. Having spent the better part of my life navigating the rocky waters of my anxiety, I’ve learned a thing or two. And although I know that there are some parts of my emotional makeup that I may not be able to change, I can—and do—view it in a more productive light.
Fact: I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.
Fact: I am not my anxiety and panic attacks.
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Though I spent many years believing my anxious thoughts made up the whole of me, I have come to realize the faulty logic behind that notion: Emotions, by nature, move with fluidity—dancing in and out of the mind, carefully orchestrated by the tide that is an ever-evolving state of consciousness. So how can any single emotion define a person?
I now know and expect that throughout my life I will experience emotional ebbs and flows; some emotions will feel good, some will feel crappy and some will just flat out trounce me. But they are fleeting; they are not here to stay. Emotions stop in for a visit, hang around for a bit then move on their merry way, making room for the new ones to take their place. Just because I feel anxious or scared or depressed in any given moment doesn’t mean I’ll feel that way forever. It doesn’t make me who I am.
While I do still grapple with my emotional health, I know that I am making strides towards finding a greater inner peace. I used to define myself by my anxiety. Not anymore. Today I see my anxious ways as part of what makes me who I am today, but not who I am as a whole. There are many characteristics that, today, I use to define myself—and anxious is not one of them: I am kind; I am loving; I am extroverted; I am sentimental; I am blond-haired and brown-eyed; I am (sometimes) funny; I am cautious.
I am not anxious. I am simply someone who experiences anxious thoughts on occasion.
I am many things, but I am not my emotions.