Lifestyle Blog: living with fear & anxiety

The real time thoughts of Sabrina

The fear of failure is holding me back — September 20, 2016

The fear of failure is holding me back

I didn’t set out to be the best in school- it was a byproduct of the work I put in. I worked hard to learn and memorize as much as I could in order to fully understand the material I was to be tested on- ignoring the effort (or lack thereof) of other students. But the undertone of comparison still crept in as professors and teachers would announce that I scored the highest. I performed the “best”. When I wasn’t the best I wasn’t happy. But when when I was the best, that didn’t necessarily make me happy either. I never realized the truth behind my hard work was fear of not being the best. The fear of that horrible feeling of being completely unprepared for a test that I had one shot at taking. And what have all those perfect scores done for me? 

The truth is you can be perfect in school, it is reflected in your grades. But the truth of life is that you can never be perfect nor the best. There will always be someone a little bit better, faster, smarter, and if you are the best, even for a brief moment, the next best player will be fast on your heels. Keep up momentum or fear being replaced…

Post-school I realized a big lesson. Things aren’t as black and white as they were in my days of formal education. There isn’t always a right answer for every situation. You can’t just study the material for life and be prepared. Life is a game that school didn’t prepare me for. This post-perfection world has left me in a tizzy, my entire world and self-worth has gone out the window along with my sanity and surprisingly, my work ethic. I’ve been trying to figure out (typical perfectionist) exactly why I have been so…well, lazy these post-college days. I have lost focus, lack motivation, and just feel generally lost, depressed, and anxious. Reflecting back on my college days, I wasn’t happy studying for 12 hours in a day, even saying it seems unfathomable to this current-day self that I have become. I am not quite sure how I pumped out so much work and read so many pages each day. Day after day, taking no breaks. I felt anxious when not doing work. Now I feel anxious just thinking about doing any kind of work. Most days I can barely muster up the strength to do anything and find myself sitting in contemplation wondering why I’m not doing anything at all. Projects looming overhead… 

 Keeping up a constant state of perfection and hard work is not sustainable. My high expectations for myself drove me to the ground. Now this burnt out version of my once productive being contemplates what my next step will be since my seemingly passionless existence has risen up and taken ahold of the mothership. Trying to find purpose in the madness of my mind has been the ultimate quest consuming my entire being for months. Putting so much pressure on myself has been counter-productive in finding the solution. My search for meaning has left me more lost than before. And as for an answer about why my productivity has gone down, I’m not quite sure. My fear of not being perfect at the career and business I choose to pursue is probably a major factor. I don’t like going into things thinking I possibly won’t be good at it or I won’t have a chance to be successful at it. This fear has left me in a state of inaction. This fear has held me back from mostly pursuing everything, not thinking I will be good at something or not be smart enough. There are many layers to my problem: fear of failure, insecurity, indecision, lack of concentration, “head-in-the-clouds-syndrome,” lack of perceived passion, newfound procrastination, anxiety, depression… What happened to the days of complete focus and concentration reading for hours on end…?

The only solace is falling back to loved ones. I wish I had realized this sooner- that connections are the glue to keep your life and sanity together. People are the only thing that make life worth living. I neglected forming and keeping connections while I was working so hard. But without people, connections, interactions, friendships, relationships, family…nothing else matters.

If you are going to strive to be the best at something even after reading this blog post, I urge you to strive to be the best girlfriend, daughter, son, husband, mother, friend, that you can be. 

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Goals vs Themes — September 16, 2016

Goals vs Themes

Do you live your life from one goal to the next? How often do you meet the expectations of the goals you actually set for yourself? Are you rigid in your mentality? Do you even want to achieve the goals you have identified for yourself and if you do, then why?

My buddy, James Altucher, (and I use the word buddy loosely, very loosely since we have never met nor have we conversed on any level but I feel I already know him through his podcast, The Altucher Show) in his commentary for Business Insider discusses how he rarely sets rigid goals for himself, rather he has prevailing themes in which he lives by. Themes such as: helping people, being healthy, etc. He reflects on the fact that when he did write down a goal for himself, he rarely ever achieved it. So it got me thinking…

With all my “to-do” lists and all my productivity hacks and visions and written goals…I actually have moved further away from those goals with each passing day. Maybe the sight of them has overwhelmed me…I have been feeling overwhelmed for a while. But then again when I set goals for myself in the past such as read 5 chapters of a specific book, I usually accomplish the task (or get pretty close to it). So which is it? Is goal setting actually counter-productive for us or are they what makes us stay productive? There’s evidence for both outcomes that I have seen in my own life. What about you?

I know I’m asking so many questions in this post but I really am asking myself these things in my head. Trying to sort through the contradicting colloquialisms and expressions that we take for granted and grounding them in reality. “Go with the flow” verses “believe it and achieve it” type things.

I guess it all depends on the type of goal you are setting for yourself. If it is something grand like generating $100 million a year from now (probably an easy task for the Zucks and Musks of the world) but to me and the everyday person this seems like a daunting task at the moment. If the goal is something as small as reading 5 chapters a day of some book…it may be a little bit more do-able as to not overwhelm you too much.

My advice would be to set small goals to accomplish everyday tasks, set themes for your life so you can live with integrity and purpose, and not to get overwhelmed by the stuff in between. Let yourself be open to the possibilities the world may present to you at random. I know for myself I couldn’t dream up being where I am today. I had no idea these opportunities would be presented to me at this point in my life. But maybe if I set some big goal for myself then I’d be purposefully moving towards it by now…it’s funny to think about but for myself I will continue to live and not try to make sense of the randomness that enters my life. I will continue to work everyday to get myself closer to certain goals I do have for myself, but I won’t be bogged down in the details. I will also continue to be open to the possibilities…

What to do when you feel bored all the time — August 19, 2016

What to do when you feel bored all the time

I’ve been reflecting on my constant boredom with much of my life for some time now. I am not a therapist or have any authority in the field of mental illness, however I am someone who has suffered and is still suffering with anxiety and depression. I think the root of most of our suffering comes from the basic emotion of fear. Fear seems to be the base of these illnesses. For myself, my overwhelming fear overrides my brain into thinking most things are a threat to me. Whenever something or someone makes me feel uncomfortable – if I’m in a new place, revealing myself or being asked a series of questions – my mind goes into defense mode. Instead of fight or flight which most of us have heard of, my brain goes into a third mode that isn’t talked about so much – it is called “freeze.” So my anxiety attacks are accompanied by my whole body just freezing in time, breathless… This amplifies my anxiety and causes me to not want to do anything at all. By me doing nothing, I become bored very easily and frequently. Because of my underlying and subconscious general fear, it prohibits me from doing most activities as a subconscious defense mechanism. And my mind rationalizes my fear by presenting the boredom state of mind by telling myself “I don’t really like those activities anyway so why bother?” So in a sense, my boredom is a reflection of my innermost fears.

Some tactics to help mitigate my symptoms will be shared below:

  1. Get out and do something, anything!
    When we are suffering from intense anxiety and/or depression, our instinct is to seclude and isolate ourself from the outside world. When feeling extreme boredom as a result of anxiety or depression, the best thing to do is get out and get moving. Go exercise, go for a walk in the park, play with your dog. Whatever you do, don’t stay inside by yourself ruminating on your sad thoughts of boredom and worthlessness.
  2. Be around people. 
    This may seem counter intuitive for people with social anxieties, but for me just being in a crowded room makes me feel like I am alive instead of stuck in isolation. The noises, sounds, faces all seem to entertain me for a short while at least.
  3. Listen to some good music.
    For me, what gets me out of a funk is listening to the Ace of Base station on Pandora… Random? Maybe. But it works. Give it a try! Or try out whatever music you like, just make sure to skip any sad songs because that can put you into an emotional state remembering the past.

So, remember that no amount of anxiety can change the future, and no amount of worrying can change the past. Accept things as they are and accept you for who you are. Everyone experiences boredom from time to time, but some of us just feel it a little bit more intensely and more frequently. Go on some adventures and try to acknowledge your fears but be sure to overcome those things that scare you. What fears are holding you back from living?

Achieving Greatness — August 17, 2016

Achieving Greatness

This post is inspired by the olympics and Lewis Howes’ podcast, The School of Greatness.

To achieve greatness in anything- sports, business, etc.- you need to do things others are not able to. It requires you to sacrifice; maybe that means no dessert, eating clean, not going out drinking with friends in order to maintain your physique or to stay home and work on your business strategy. If you want to achieve greatness, you need to first evaluate what are the most important things to you in life: quality time with family and friends, being able to watch your kid play football on the weekends… Most people who want to achieve an extremely high level of success need to make daily sacrifices and sometimes put their social lives on pause. You may need to cancel last minute on family and friends and significant others; so what does all the glory and success and fame mean if you have no one there to celebrate with… Sure if you enjoy the training, don’t mind the sacrifices, and if your calling compels you to push through the short term gratification mentality and move towards ultimate long-term success then by all means you are a high achiever and wouldn’t be happy doing anything less.

All this talk about the Olympians in Rio achieving greatness and getting the gold is very inspiring and uplifting…but also can be detrimental to our own self-worth. We may say things like, “I could never do that…” even though we have never tried pole vaulting or doing flips on a balance beam. How could we really know if we never tried? Moreover, we don’t need to beat ourselves up by seeing others achieving their greatness. If we really want something in life, we can do everything to make it happen for ourselves.I firmly believe anyone can learn anything that they put their effort into. Effort does not guarantee success, but inaction definitely guarantees no results…

Try not to get bogged down by seeing the greatness of others unfold on your screen. Comparison breeds misery. And remember, you don’t need to achieve greatness in order to live a great life.  For the rest of us, we don’t need to achieve greatness on a worldwide stage in order to live a great life. We are social beings and we need relationships, whether you’re a self-proclaimed introvert or not. Life is all about the quality of the relationships we have cultivated around us. If you have quality friends and a loving family, I consider that to be a truly great existence.

A Beautiful Storm — August 15, 2016
The definition of a tragedy — August 5, 2016

The definition of a tragedy

Every night I dream and everything is figured out

I find my true passion and

I feel fulfilled and everything feels “right” …

but the real tragedy is that every morning I wake up after that dream of realizing my passion and finding success…

and I can’t remember a thing.

I remember the feeling but forget the events…

This is a true tragedy.

So I will keep dreaming

and keep believing that I will remember,

and one day it will all click…

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it — August 4, 2016

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it

As a society we put so much pressure on “Millennials” to choose a career and to design their life all in the most confusing times in their youth – right when they enter those critical years post-high school. Like many other students, I was in a state of PTHSD- post-traumatic-high-school-disorder when I was eagerly trying to choose the right career path for myself based off of a perceived passion for a certain subject or field.

I think this causes way too much undo anxiety problems for the youth of today in the U.S. which has been my experience. Pressuring myself to find my passion and to follow my passion has been the one thing on my mind in my most recent years. Is it any coincidence that my anxiety is also through the roof? Maybe it is not my work load that is the issue – rather it is the undo stress and anxiety stemming from trying to figure out what my calling is. What is my purpose? Today I am not sure. But finding peace in this uncertainty is the only way to charge on. In time things will make sense and fall into place as long as I follow my little curiosities. As long as I follow the things that seem to excite me, I think I (and you) will find that looking backwards is the only way to connect the dots. Right now things don’t seem to make sense, but we must remember that hindsight is 20-20 and things will make sense in the future.

And really, it isn’t a matter of what you do, but how you do it. You could be a cashier at a grocery store or a landscaper or a software engineer or an accountant…and you can either be happy or indifferent. Think about if you bring passion to what you do or are you allowing your mind to be lost in the clouds wondering when your passion will fall from the sky, hit you on the head, and make you happy and successful.

Attitude Adjustment — July 28, 2016

Attitude Adjustment

I’ll just come out and say it — I’ve been a little shit the past 2.5 maybe even 3 years…
Now let me explain. I battle with anxiety and depression and as a result I became tired and dejected. I had been working so hard for so long and couldn’t take it anymore. As a senior in college, long days of striving for my best self had left me drained. As an anxious perfectionist, I never wanted to stray from my comfort zone for fear of not being able to perform at my best. For that reason I avoided many things I felt I wasn’t good at or had the possibility of failing at.
So about 3 years ago I had a total shut down of my mental state. I didn’t want to do much of anything. Everything felt like a chore. I started to drift further from family and friends and who I thought I was… I was not a pleasant person to be around. Hypochondria was the thing I hid behind to keep me “safe” from the things I feared doing. I didn’t want to stir up and uncertainty or risks in my life during this time. So I sat – lonely, bored, and somehow complacent with just being a lump. I watched finished about 3 different Netflix series shows within a 4 month time period. That’s hours on hours of episodes per day.
This state of lazy complacency carried on for the next 3 years. (except I replaced Netflix with sitting in silence and worrying and thinking.)
Today I finally realize what happened…My anxiety allowed my depression to alter my mental state and to live in isolation and sloth-ness, all hidden behind hypochondria as my scape goat in my own mind to get out of almost any event, task, and responsibility I had. I allowed myself to slip. I allowed myself to be late for classes and for gatherings. I didn’t respect my own time, so why would I respect other people’s time?
I still cared about my grades and managed to continue to keep my 4.0* through senior year and 2 years into my graduate school. But, my mind was lazy. I didn’t want to improve, I didn’t perform at my best in school, life, friendships, family relationships…I wasn’t my best self because I allowed to slip into this state of constant bleakness. I saw my future as a blank slate with endless possibilities for myself to fill in the pieces of the puzzle, but doing that exerted too much mental energy so I would shut down and blame the fact that I had no “passions” for my lack of any vision or direction for the future. However, I need to make a distinction here — it was the lack of passion for my life that was the problem. I wasn’t living passionately. Now I see that it was not my situation that was the issue (which from the outside looks pretty darn lucky) but it was my own mental road block. My depression masked my inner self to make it appear I had no passion for life itself. It was easier and caused less friction for me to just ignore the outside world and become a sloth.

Now I will not allow myself to live this way any longer. Life is full of practical problems with creative solutions, so I cannot apply some textbook principle or follow directions to get shit done. School teaches you one thing – to follow directions. Read certain things and you will ace the exam. Memorize. But the real world is nothing like this. These principles can be applied, but anything worth creating needs a creative approach to figure out its solution. I can no longer live with the expectation of having the exact direction to get to the answer because there is no one answer to most things in life. There is no right and wrong choice (leaving out moral issues). If I cannot choose two paths, why not just pick one and go with it to test it out. Living life as a series of personal experiments is the only way to find something that clicks. So I need to stop looking for the right solution by pure analysis and take some action to create something new for myself. Life is tough and in order to thrive I need to take my knowledge, learn even more, and apply that to the problems, tasks, and obstacles in my life. They key here is action. Being in a state of inaction fueled by fear like I did for 3 years was not a very happy existence. I wasn’t the most fun to be around either. And I realize my attitude that things should just come easy to me and expecting certain outcomes because I’m me and I’ve succeeded in the past is an entitled outlook. Not knowing I even had this entitled attitude was the scary part. Past success doesn’t guarantee future success, nor does it entitle me to it.
Dig deep to see what things you could be doing without even realizing it that is holding you back from achieving, succeeding, and living the life you want. Get out of your own way. Stop the excuses and do the work. And stop delaying your life because of your mental road blocks.

*I did get all As except for 1 B+ my first year in Graduate School.

Datsu-sara-suru — July 22, 2016

Datsu-sara-suru

In reading the “4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, this phrase in Japanese struck me — datsu-sara-suru, which means to escape the salaryman life. This phrase has summed up my entire viewpoint on the world and it has eluded me until this point in my life. In almost giving in and thinking about continuing to trade my most valuable currency -time- for -money- this Japanese phrase has re-adjusted my mind. Making the most of my time and the direction I put my attention is what will matter most in my life. Slave-save-relax (interpretation: work – save – retire) is not a way to go through life. Instead, Ferriss suggests going experiencing multiple mini-retirements throughout life. This is to be funded by either having an automated business that works in your absence or by freelancing, having a flexible work schedule, and many more…

If you become the architect of your life, you won’t accept anything less than the things that will move you closer to you goals. Life will throw many distractions your way, and you will not want to pass them up simply because you fear more will not come to you. You have a fear-centered mentality. I challenge you to think in abundance because more opportunities will come your way. You do not need to accept everything thrown at you. Some things will seem enticing and wrapped in bundles of cash, but they are just distractions. Working purposefully towards your goals and ignoring the distractions is the only way to success, so don’t accept anything less. People often misinterpret a random job or assignment as “meant-to-be” revelations. They think since they are being offered to do something, that it must be a sign that this is what they were meant to do. This, however, is not the case. Yes sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be thrown at you, but I’ve come to learn that little in this life is irreversible. Sometimes I find that I turn down one job and another one comes my way that is better suited for me. So don’t be afraid to turn down an assignment for the fear of not receiving more (unless you are truly pressed for cash).

If you don’t take the wheel of your own life, then life will veer you in every which direction – so don’t be surprised if you land somewhere you didn’t want to be. The only way to truly get to a place you never wanted to be in is by “going with the flow.” Be purposeful, act boldly, and take action towards the direction of your goals.

“Find your calling in career and life” —

“Find your calling in career and life”

How do you find your calling in career and life? Watch this interview below with Chase Jarvis and Chris Guillebeau.

Watch to see what the joy-money-flow model is and more!

My biggest takeaway was to ask myself two questions:

  1. Is it working?
    Interpretation: Is your current career path going well? Is it still working out for you at this point in your life or are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed and itching for change?
  2. Do you believe in it?
    Interpretation: Do you care about what you are currently doing and working on? Do you believe in what you’re selling and the value you are adding to your company or customers?If these two main questions are a resounding NO, then you need to make a change, maybe not tomorrow but change needs to come soon. If you realize you are not happy and this current career is not working out for you the way you thought it might OR if you lost your passion for it OR forgot why you started in the first place…make small changes. Or make a big change. Whatever you’re ready for!