There’s a line from the TV show “Parks & Recreation” where Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie, says to her friend, “I need you to text me every thirty seconds that everything is going to be okay.”
It’s a (admittedly funny!) joke on the show, but Leslie’s desperate plea hits close to home for me. Believing that things will be okay can be difficult when you are living with anxiety, with a pervasive voice in your head that consistently points out each and every challenge, wrongdoing, or perceived slight.
I believe that most negative emotions can be traced back to fear: fear of loss, rejection, failure, grief, more emotion, or a litany of other things. We all see so many things to be afraid of in our personal and professional lives, and it can be a paralyzing emotion – something that stops us in our tracks and convinces us that we aren’t capable of making it through.
My experiences with anxiety have led me to work towards thought processes that make living with the fear of an everyday human existence easier. I don’t need to believe that things will be excellent, amazing, or everything I’ve ever dreamed of. All I need to believe is that things will not be catastrophic or world-shattering – that things will, quite simply, be okay.
This idea has led to my favorite mantra that I’ve been using consistently over the last few months:
This situation may not be okay, but I am okay.
This mantra is an awesome reminder that the things that happen in our lives are separate from who we actually are. Something terrible can happen at work, you can make a mistake, you can screw up a relationship, the list goes on – and you can still be you, existing, being okay. You can still be happy, joyful, excited, and passionate, all while knowing that challenging things are happening and you are afraid. These things can exist simultaneously, which sometimes sounds absolutely revolutionary to me.
I find that thinking this way is a practice of not letting your thoughts become overwhelming, of not letting your fears spiral into something that feels larger than it really is. It’s about remembering that most things are small, and that if you ask yourself the question “Will this matter 5 years from now?”, the answer is often no.
It’s learning to feel steady even when life feels rocky. It’s believing in the simplicity of being okay.
Some things that I’ve found to help:
- Practicing gratitude in and for the small moments, and remembering that they are just as important (if not more so) than the big, scary stuff.
- My discovery of meditation has been a huge help with stilling my mind and calming my thoughts.
- Keeping a list of things that feel like big worries, and noting later how in most (if not all) cases, the situation was not as dire as you had thought it would be.
I’m grateful for this journey, and for this mantra that consistently reminds me to focus on what is important what is real. This situation may not be okay, but I am okay – and I am striving to be great.