I have been going to counseling for my anxiety for about a year now. After realizing just how much it has started to consume my life, I became determined to try and get to the bottom of it and try and find out what it is that makes me tick. Granted, that’s a lot easier said than done. The mind has billions of corners and there’s an endless amount of questions we can try and ask ourselves to find every nook and cranny to look for little parts of us that make us who and what we are.
Last fall, my counselor made a point that I seem to put others’ experiences before my own. Some of you may be reading that and thinking, “well what’s so bad about that? It sounds like something you’re supposed to be doing – caring for others.” The problem with it is that I’m willing to drive myself to the point of discomfort and insanity for the sake of not upsetting someone or simply stepping on their toes. While I think I have good intentions, it’s not healthy for myself or for my friendships to leave things unsaid.
That’s just a precursor to the point I want to get into, because it’s important to what I talk about in my counseling sessions now. I have a new counselor this year and I have shared with him what my previous counselor and I realized. During my sessions, I am constantly putting my own feelings down and negating their worth, while emphasizing and almost being protective over the importance of what other people feel. This constant trend has allowed my counselor to ask me the question, what would it look like in terms of your health if you cared about yourself and your feelings as much as you do for other’s? And honestly, that question stumps me. I know that in terms of my mental health, it’d be for the best – after all, our ability to take care of ourselves if just as important as maintaining relationships with others.
I wanted to write this post because I wanted to pose this same question to any of you who feel like you might struggle with the same concept.
Don’t get me wrong – it is super important to value others and to put them before yourself to an extent. But if you’re anything like me and let it cross a line in which “caring” or “turning the other cheek” starts to feel like it’s going to make you explode, it might be time to challenge yourself to ask this question.
A lot of people with anxiety truly do have the deep rooted fear of being rejected or abandoned. We start to feel like we have to bend over backwards to show people how much we care or deal with the inner turmoil we inflict on ourselves to maintain a certain atmosphere or avoid conflict of any kind. But if we’re honest with ourselves, though, our friends wouldn’t want to see us driving ourselves to the point of insanity or mental breakdowns.
Obviously I’m not saying you need to become distant, standoffish jerk and throw a fit every time something happens that you don’t like. But if you know you need to focus on yourself – whether that means skipping an event or hangout to give yourself a mental health day, giving your finances a break, standing/speaking up for yourself, etc – take time to stop and think what would it look like in terms of your health if you cared about yourself and your feelings as much as you do for other’s?