• Ollie Horsfall

Anxiety: Self-Preservation

It's been a while since I woke up feeling like I didn't want to achieve anything, but today is that day. For the first time in 9 months I have no real fight in me. I feel empty. It's hard for me to say why, but the last few days have been uneasy, but nothing out of the ordinary, and then there's today.

What changed? Well, nothing really, but I am feeling the burden of expectations hanging over my head. My own, most importantly are starting to hold me back. I have found that when I ignore the potential consequences of actions I take, I generally succeed, and if it's on my own merit I certainly manage this.

My therapist and I came to a conclusion, that most of my anxiety stems from other people and the more I work towards a goal with others it's hard not to see why... a lot of people are just doing their best for themselves. We live in a society that promotes self-indulgence and as such we are usually indulging in ourselves. Our 'want', our 'need' and our 'desire' take priority to the needs of others because we only have ourselves for company most of the time. I am also a victim of this mentality, although I try in all things to be kind, it's not always easy.

People often want what I can't give them. I can do everything in my power to make things as easy as possible, but then when I have to think about myself , it shocks people to the point of being offended. My natural mode is one that makes people say 'you're so nice' and 'you're really friendly'. Do you know what friendly gets you? No-where fast, that's for sure. Friendly means you're a push-over, it means you do what you can to best make others feel comfortable around you, it does not mean that you're the person who will do what's right for yourself, and more often than not, I don't.

Good leadership is learned, it's not a consequence of genetics or talent, it's a thing you learn by paying the price of ego time and time again. The reason my anxiety stems from others is because no matter what I do, no matter how kind I am to others I still manage to offend someone. I have always done my best to see the best in people and sometimes it works out wonderfully, but often I have found that people are watching out for the worst in me, one slight misstep and I am forever tarnished in their eyes as if the bad eradicates the majority of the good.

Another thing is that others tend to be cynical about your honesty, especially if it doesn't fit their own bias. I have sat down with good friends who undoubtedly feel that the scrutiny of my success is a way to make themselves feel better about their own failures. The worst part is, I notice this and I don't call them out on it. What's the point? Alienating people who like me just to point out a flaw in their own character seems reductive and pointless. That's not to say I don't value criticism, I do. I love me some self-improvement, but there is no-one more critical of me than myself.

Today I find myself being critical of me because of the actions and attitudes of others. Actions I'm probably misinterpreting because of my anxiety, actions that probably don't even register with those taking them as anything other than doing their best for themselves.

Assuming kindness in each other is difficult because we are just waiting for everyone to let us down. Our guards are always up. My problem is that I trust, get let down and then trust again, I learn lessons and then I get to a point where I forget them again because it will make life easier for everyone else, just not me.

Looking at my anxiety as something that is there for good reason is difficult. Am I preserving my sense of self by letting undue and occasionally irrational emotions take over? Is it self-preservation when my mind is assuming the worst in people even though my heart is doing the opposite? We're all selfish sometimes, but maybe my anxiety is a reminder to be selfish and think of my self. Maybe yours is too?

I dunno, I guess I'll let this train of thought reach its terminus. Today I'm feeling a little irrational, pointless and overwhelmed. It's probably better to see this as my brain taking control of my heart, but still I don't think that'll help with my lack of motivation.


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