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I'm most anxious when I'm by myself.
It might sound strange, but it's true.
It's when I'm all alone and I don't have structure that my thoughts start to race.
First, they race around my head.
Then, they leap out of my head and race around the room.
Before I know it, I've wasted half an hour thinking about thinking.
Being with myself.
Being OK with who I am.
That's at the heart of it.
If you've ever struggled with your self-relationship, with being with yourself, you need to read all the way to the end. Behavior four below is probably my favorite one.
Being Okay With Myself - My Day
Here's a typical day for me.
I get up. I drink some water and have coffee. Then, I usually write this newsletter before getting ready for work.
The structure is built in. It's already established.
I go about my day. Talk to some colleagues and clients. Send a few emails. Bim bang boo.
And this is all perfectly fine. The day follows a range of behaviors and events that are to be expected. Usually, nothing out of the ordinary happens.
But it's when I wrap up my day that the anxiety starts, and I begin to ask myself questions:
Did I do everything I could?
Do I have enough time tonight to take care of what I need to do next?
What DO I need to do next?
It's as if my brain is a pipe filling with water, and the spigot finally can't handle the building pressure, so it flies off and clanks around my skull.
Can you relate?
It's extremely uncomfortable.
What's Going On Here? Being Okay With Yourself.
Why can I go through most of my day and be just fine, but then I get to the end of the day and have it all fall apart?
It has everything to do with being OK with myself--being with myself.
You see, I've come to realize it's not about all the things I need to do.
It's not about the nature of the things themselves.
Those things--tasks, demands, other people's expectations--will always be there.
No, it's about how I respond to those things. It's about the relationship I create with those things in my mind.
Perception is always worse than what's actually there.
What's the end of the world for one person is simply a tricky challenge for another.
Learning to Be OK With Being Alone and Being Myself - Behaviors for Success and Relief
Over time, I've developed techniques that I can use when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
I've developed solid behaviors to apply when the rusty spigot is knocking itself around in my head.
It's important to remember that no set of techniques is fool-proof.
Figuring out how to improve your self-relationship requires trial and error.
I recommend testing out a few of these behaviors until you find one core behavior that sticks. Then, expand upon that one behavior until you have a full set of behaviors in your repertoire.
The Behaviors I Use to Be OK With Myself:
- I express what it is I'm dealing with, whatever that expression looks like. It could be writing. It could be talking with my wife. It could even by talking to myself. What matters is that I get it out of my head, which is a swampy place where bad thoughts about myself can fester.
- I talk through how my self-loathing and overwhelm are impacting me on a physical, mental, and emotional level. This multi-level analysis is important. When you're struggling with yourself and what you think about who you are, there are usually symptoms you're experiencing at multiple levels. Make sure you tick the boxes and figure out exactly what you're experiencing. This will give you a more complete picture of your self-doubt and a plan of attack that will actually work.
- I monitor my willpower. Often, I'm not struggling with myself. Frequently, I'm just overly tired and my guard is down. When this happens, I just go easy on myself and give my mind and body time to rest by calling it a night.
- Or...I block out my evening. What I mean is that I borrow from the structure of the day. If having structure works for me most of the day, surely I can structure my evenings to have the same effect. Except, rather than aggressively structuring every minute, I give myself 15, 25, or hour-long bursts of activity. This doesn't need to be anything formal. I just make a commitment to focus on one activity for a certain amount of time.
The good news is, these are not superhuman tricks.
These are basic behaviors that I just need to remind myself to do when I'm anxious and getting down on myself.
These are behaviors anyone can do.
It's not a matter of the behavior being too difficult. It's a matter of matching the behavior to your individual experience.
Remember, it always comes back to perception.
Perception can be your worst enemy when analyzing what's happening to you.
But it can also be your best friend when responding to what happens to you.
You can learn to be OK with yourself.
It may not happen immediately.
And it may not happen every day. (It doesn't for me.)
But it will happen if you test various behaviors to hone your perception skills.
After all, you're stuck with yourself in this life.
You and yourself should probably learn to get along, my friend.