Do you find yourself missing the "old" you who wasn't struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia? Trust me, I get it! When I was struggling with anxiety, I felt so much fear, frustration, and sadness when I would think about all the things I used to be able to do with so much ease. Things like going to work, the store, and even just going for a drive. I'd constantly wonder... How did it get this bad? How the heck did I get here? This might sound familiar, right?
I never thought that I would've struggled with intense fear when I left my home, went to work, stores, and sat in meetings. So when that became my reality, I was terrified. And it only made sense that I wanted to go back to a time when things weren't so hard...which is something I think that a lot of us deal with. We fantasize about what the old version of us looked like, and we often make it seem much greater than it was! And we do this because anything seems better than the things we're currently struggling with.
This is a truth that might be difficult to hear... but fantasizing about who we used to be and beating ourselves up for our current struggles will only keep us stuck. And because so many of us struggle with this, I want to share the truth about wanting to go back to the old you today. And, spoiler alert, you don't need to go back to the old you to experience peace, joy, and freedom again. In fact, the future you will be able to offer you lots more than the old you ever did! So let's talk about that.
Wishing To Go Back To The "Old" You Before Dealing With Anxiety? Let's Talk About It!
Why Going Back To The "Old You" Isn't The Solution
Here's the reality of going back to the "old" version of yourself that wasn't dealing with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia...You will run into the same struggles with anxiety again. And this might be hard to recognize at first, but the old you got you to the current place where you're struggling with anxiety. I'm not saying your struggles are your fault, because they aren't at all! But the old you likely wasn't taught how to have a healthy relationship with anxiety! And perhaps the biggest reason why the old you doesn't hold the answers is because the old you was likely running from things rather than facing them.
It can be so helpful to recognize that the answers don't lie in the person you used to be. Because most of us struggled with unhelpful habits before anxiety became more intense, that version of ourselves isn't able to support us in the way we might think. Heck, you probably have lots more tools and understanding to support your emotions right now! I know where you are right now is so hard. But I know it's better than where you were. You're here with me, and that tells me that you're committed to moving forward. And the healing and moving forward happens in the now, friend.
An Exciting Truth About Anxiety
We tend to think that anxiety has taken away all of the wonderful parts of us. But the truth is, anxiety hasn't stolen anything from you. Sure, it's made life feel a whole lot harder than it needs to, but all of the wonderful parts of you are still here. Everything you're capable of and all of the amazing things you can contribute to the world still exist within you! And anxiety can never take that away.
I'm sure there are lots of things you did without anxiety and panic popping up, right? Maybe it was going to your favorite coffee shop, or hiking in nature. Think of that place you love, and maybe have been avoiding, and know this: one day soon, you'll go back there. And you'll feel peace, joy, and freedom again. It's just going to take some action and effort to do those things again. Healing is just about uncovering those parts of you that have been there all along, and that includes everything you're capable of.
How Your Struggles Help To Build A Better, Stronger You!
As much as anxiety really, really, sucks...it's teaching you a whole lot about yourself. And the things you're learning from anxiety are tools that you will use for the rest of your life. So many of the things I learned when I was dealing with anxiety are tools that I still use every day, despite being recovered. The struggle teaches you how to care for yourself in your toughest moments, and work through all of your emotions in a healthy way.
Because of anxiety, I now know when to push myself, and when I need time for rest. I know how to show myself some self-compassion, and I let my struggles serve as a lesson for future me. So often, when my students come out the other side of their anxiety struggles, they tell me they're grateful for what they went through. And you might be thinking... Shannon, what?! Yeah, they often say they're grateful, because dealing with anxiety taught them so much about life, themselves, and their relationships.
So I want you to remember this... the best life is the one you're living right now. The aware you. The healing you. And the version of you that's breaking unhealthy patterns and taking healthy action, even when it's hard. Because this is the version of you that will lead to the absolute best version of you! So let's throw away the idea that the old you is the best version of you, and we'll keep moving forward together.
Make sure to tune in to the full episode of goodness! And until next time, friend, keep taking healthy action!