There is no point in panic. Panic is a deceptive, dark tool that puts fear in control of our experience. Panic makes you wish time away- ” I wish this flight were over,” “I wish I was done with the this meeting.” As someone who struggled with and continues to struggle with anxiety disorder I can tell you that most of my panic comes from living outside the present moment- outside of myself. Worrying about what comes next or obsessing over a past experience or choice. When I can connect to the here and now I can find calm in almost any situation.
One of my old anxieties comes from public transportation- it grew so out of control at one point that I avoided busses and trains like the plague for a period of 10 years or so. Any New Yorker can tell you that’s no easy feat. But that’s what fear does, it convinces you that it’s better to not do the action which causes the anxiety- it blinds you to the potential positive outcomes and makes you consider only the worst case scenario. I (pretty much) got over my fear of the train one wintry day in my early twenties. There was a dance audition in Manhattan and I was at my aunt and uncles house in Long Island. I didn’t have a car and when I was unable to convince one of them to drive me into the city, I resigned myself to missing the audition- there was obviously no way I was taking the train. At that moment my Uncle Alex came in and calmly said, “come on, if you don’t go- your just gonna stay right there.” Of course he meant that I would stay on the sofa for the day… But it resonated much deeper than that. How many years and months had I not moved forward? If I didn’t take this chance and face this fear.. I would stay right where I was- there could not be growth or progress with this crippling fear. I definitely wouldn’t book this job and who knows how many more opportunities I might forfeit down the line. To everyone’s surprise I let him drive me to the station and drop me off… He stayed until the train came and when I boarded I could see his smile from the platform. I knew then that he was right. Many people had tried to tell me that exact thing before but I had not been ready to receive it- that day I was ready.
As I write this I am on board a flight from Beijing to Bangkok. In order to get to our airplane from the terminal we needed to take a bus and even though some 7 years or so have passed since that day my uncle dropped me off at the LIRR, I felt that old familiar feeling in my stomach. That quiet ache, the voice of fear that says- “stay where you are.” But today I make the choice to get on the bus and go forward. I will reach out to life with the full length of my arms. I find, that if I focus, I can find reasons for gratitude in even the most stressful situations. Every time I find myself in a situation that causes me anxiety or stress I try to list 5 reasons I am grateful for this exact moment, things I may stand to gain and what my intentions were that lead me to this moment. When I can refocus and say thank you I change my vibration from negative to positive. Everyone knows like attracts like and I am determined to draw the most intensely positive and beautiful experiences to myself- which I know cannot be a done with a negative heart or mind. I will not be paralyzed or controlled by fear. I have been guided to this moment by a traveller’s a heart that wants to see the world and gets exhilarated by stamps in a passport. Even though sometimes it is difficult- now a days, I never miss a train.