The voices of anxiety and depression can be overwhelming at times. Their lies. Their volume. Their goals. It can all be too much, and we can very quickly give in. We can stay small. We can be scared to try something for fear of looking like a fool. For fear of getting hurt. For fear of taking up space. For fear of falling apart. It has us questioning our abilities. Our loved ones. Our goals. Our desires. Those distorted voices can tear our lives apart.
These voices carve words into my skin. They are constant reminders of everything I lack. Unworthy.
Constant reminders that keep me small. That keeps me shaking. Reminders that cause me to lash out at others. Reminders that keep me from trusting anyone, including myself. Reminders that cause me to not believe in my abilities. These reminders keep me from trying. These reminders keep me isolated. These reminders keep me jealous of others. These reminders keep me from pushing myself.
Recently, I decided to challenge these reminders. I did not like the person they were having me become. I didn’t want to stay small for fear of devastation. I didn’t want to stay isolated for fear or jealousy. It wasn’t a good look for me. Below I listed five steps I am making to challenge the voices of anxiety and depression.
1. Challenge myself physically
I have always been attracted to outdoor sports, but I was often too scared to get very involved in them. I always wanted to camp, but only actually did it a year ago. I used to run cross country, but I stopped running for years because I thought I was terrible at it. I always wanted to try rock climbing but was always too nervous to try something new. For the past year, I have been challenging myself (with the help of loved ones) to do the activities I always wanted to do more. I have been backpacking, rock climbing, running, hiking, and everything else. I have loved it. But it came with a lot of challenges. I never pushed myself too much, because I didn’t believe I could. There was no way I could be good enough to do that climb. There was no way I could run a faster time.
In this past couple weeks, I wanted to challenge that mindset – that I couldn’t do any better. I started to push myself to run longer and faster. I didn’t ask for help on a climb so I could figure it out myself. I’m proving to myself that I am more capable than I realize. I can become more physically fit. I can do more activities than I thought I could – proving anxiety and depression wrong.
2. Challenge my views of people
I deal with jealousy (read more about my experiences here). I don’t like that about myself- the fact that I can become jealous of others. I don’t like that I judge others. I don’t like that I isolate myself because I don’t trust others. I have been basically forcing myself to contradict my attitude. I push myself to talk to others. To be friendly with others. To believe I am worthy of friendship. It’s not easy. Sometimes I’m pretty miserable when I first start, but then something great usually happens – I get to connect with others who I would have otherwise. I form a community. I no longer feel as alone. It’s pretty great.
3. Expand my horizons
As I mentioned, I don’t usually want to deal with complicated matters when I’m struggling. I watch the same shows. I lay on my bed doing nothing except playing a game on my phone. I apply for jobs. I write. But I wanted to challenge myself differently. I have been trying to listen to more podcasts and documentaries. I want to read more about people who push themselves. I want to learn more about the world. I want to become inspired by others. I want to learn more.
4. Grateful/Good Memory Jar
I have talked about this many times – my good memory and grateful jar. Every day I try to write down one good thing that happened to me that day. This forces myself to see the good in my life. Anxiety and depression may try to get me to look down on my life and only see the negative, but by writing down one good memory, it is concrete proof that they lie. I then keep the jar – and look at memories when I need some inspiration. It’s a good keepsake.
5. Believing in Others
One of the most convincing beliefs that anxiety and depression have me believing in is that people in my life don’t care about me. Everyone is only my friend because they pity me. No one loves me. Everyone will hurt me. This is the most tragic belief I have. If someone tells me they care about me, I question it. If someone tells me they hate me, I believe it with no doubts. I often ask my loved ones “are we good?” to ensure that we are still good because I’m scared at any second they will see how awful I am and leave me. It makes a painful existence.
Lately, I have been doing my best to challenge that. I have been trying not ask others if we are still good. When someone says they care about me, I do my best to believe them. I trust others, even though it’s hard. But I’m choosing to believe them. I still get questioning thoughts, but I’m doing my best not to act on them. I want to believe in others. This is one way I can try.
These are just five ideas I use. They are challenging. It isn’t easy to combat the anxious and depressive thoughts. I have slip-ups. But I’m actively trying because I have to believe in myself because without that, it’s a lonely existence.
Related Products (this list includes affiliate links):
This is a book by the incredible rock climber Alex Honnold. He is one of the people I found inspirational.
I’ll share this book again and again. It is really one of my favorites.
A jar to keep your good memories in.
A fleece to keep you warm on your new activities you try.