This Mindset Shift Saved Me from Anxiety

Let’s talk about the thing that changed our life.

For me, it is this switch in point of view that really turned it around for me.

When I first came to therapy, I would come in and share with my therapist what I have been doing and I always prefaced it with, “Oh my god, today I did the thing that’s very crazy!” And then, my therapist just looked at me and said “Why crazy? Who said it’s crazy?” And I realised, oh, no one really said it, but I said it.

It’s not that I really think it’s crazy. It’s that I would imagine other people judging me and thinking that I’m crazy. It just made me realise I am the most critical of myself. I was looking at myself through other people’s points of view, not through my own.

So this switch in thinking really helped me turn around.

I say this because I have witnessed it in my own life in real terms of how things have changed for me.

A few years ago, I was so different from who I am now. I was anxious and insecure. I was on my phone all the time, in bed texting someone, wondering what we were thinking of me. If they have seen my text and haven’t replied, I would be so anxious I could feel physical pain from it. Every social interaction could be painful because there’s so much room for overthinking, for thinking negative thoughts, for thinking people were judging me and hating me. It’s torturing.

I think partly it’s because growing up, I was never taught to validate myself, to see myself, to think that my thoughts and emotions matter. When I look at films, books, and, in all these stories, the woman is rarely the main character. The woman is a side character, an object of desire, being seen, being looked at, being gazed at, being judged by someone else’s perspective.

The woman is one-dimensional, can only be either innocent or sexy good or bad, just one of those things, and can never be too complex. If there is anything too complex, it will be called “crazy.” It’s such a common thing to label a woman “crazy” for having her emotions. The reason why she’s labeled “crazy” is because she’s seen through someone else’s perspective, someone who doesn’t have that much emotion, someone who doesn’t have that capacity for that much emotion.

And so, for me, growing up and especially when I enter relationships with guys who perhaps lacked emotional depth and skills, who could not understand my emotion, I ended up seeing myself through their eyes and really questioning myself. That was how I wanted to change myself. I wanted to be someone else, someone more cool, more chill, someone who is less complicated, someone who had less emotion.

In those cases, I never really see myself through my own eyes or my own reality. I only tried to force myself to adapt to someone else’s and it was a disaster. I had a complete meltdown. I had an anxiety attack. I had to call for help. That was when I started to go to therapy because I could not handle it on my own. I was going around and around with these thoughts in my head and I could not find an answer.

One thing that was very interesting to me during that time was that even though I was in so much pain and my life was just so dark, the one time that I didn’t feel that way was when I wrote. When I write, I feel healed. I feel understood. I feel like everything is okay.

It’s because I was reclaiming my own perspective. I was telling the story for myself, and so I knew I was the answer. I had to start with me. I had to start seeing the world through my own eyes, and I had to start validating my own thoughts and emotions and say it’s okay. I might not be enough for someone now but they’re not enough for me either. They’re not good enough for me and I need to find someone who have capacity for all these thoughts and emotions that I have. who sees the world similar to me and who understands that it’s okay and normal to have these emotions and feelings. Well, I’m the living proof that it’s real, that there’s someone who has this much and I deserve the love, kindness, and safety to be myself too.

That shift in a nutshell is really just turn around and ask “What do I think? What do I think is good, is bad, is right, is wrong, is norma, is okay?” And it’s all about you and your perspective of the world.

Everything you build for yourself has to start with you, not someone else.

Someone else can think that this or that is cool and enough, or a certain body type is right. It might not be for you and you have to know yourself enough to stand up for yourself, to say it’s not what I agree, it’s not what I think and it’s okay. I have my own reality, I have my own good and bad, right and wrong. That’s what I have built for myself and those things will work for me and that’s how my life have changed completely.

This is so important because it leads to:

Standards—the things that you say yes to, the things that you don’t accept any less of.

Boundaries—the things that you say no to, the things that you don’t negotiate, the things that you need to be a healthy and happy human being.

Compassion—because you see things from your own perspective, you know why you do what you do, you have that love and kindness for yourself. You can validate your own thoughts and feelings and it makes all the difference.

I know it sounds simple. It is really just a different question to ask yourself. But I think essentially it comes down to that relationship you build with yourself and that courage to be your own person, to take that space, to say that this is me and what I am and what I have matter. What I want and what I need matter and I’m here for it.

I really do believe when you start with that, the world around you will start to change for you. It will be more what you want and need it to be, instead of feeling like you’re just trying to fit in in someone else’s world. You deserve that!

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