One of our favorite mantras is “I can do hard things.” Anxiety can certainly bring us to our knees, and cause us to forget our strength and resilience, but we are psychologically hardwired to persevere. Still, we all need a reminder that we have done hard things (yes, everyone has) and lived through it. If you think about it, your track record for making it through hard days is 100%!
Recently, I was quite anxious about recording the audio book of The Anxiety Sisters’ Survival Guide. I had dyslexia and speech impediments growing up, and the idea of reading in front of the studio staff and the director seemed impossible. So I called my DAB (Designated Anxiety Buddy), and Abs reminded me, “You can do hard things.” I didn’t really buy it, truth be told, but I did what Abs said and kept repeating this mantra to myself over and over. The next week, I went into the recording studio and, even though I stumbled a bit, I did do it. “See?” Abs said. “You can do hard things.” True, but the real lesson for me that day was that I can do hard things with support.
Some of you may remember that I was so nervous about going into the recording studio that I reached out on Facebook to our Anxiety Sisters’ community. Many, many people cheered me on in all sorts of ways, and I deeply felt the support of the community. One person commented that I did not need to be perfect, just authentic. Other folks shared their experiences and gave me confidence. I carried this support with me into the studio, and it helped so much.
When I arrived at the recording studio, I was met by a lovely sound engineer and an incredible director. I shared my anxiety with them and they too were so kind and helpful. Throughout the recording sessions, the director gave me so much support, I actually ended up enjoying the process.
So, while I made the audio recording successfully, I didn’t do it alone. The Anxiety Sisterhood encouraged me, Abs gave me useful guidance, and the director was with me every step of the way. I was able to do something very hard for me because of so much emotional support.
For many of us, certain hard things seem impossible. For example, when I was fearful of driving (especially on the highway and in the rain), I could not see how I would be able to do it ever again. I blamed myself and felt weak. It wasn’t until I worked with an exposure therapist and went on medication that I could successfully overcome this phobia. I did the exposure therapy (driving on the highway) alone—which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted—but I had a therapist (and Abs) to help me through it. I may have been alone in the car, but I was not alone in the struggle.
Why am I telling you these stories? Because I think so many of us feel that when we can’t do something hard, we are to blame. We call ourselves all sorts of mean names and question our abilities. Then we enter that awful shame spiral which only exacerbates our doubts and anxiety.
If shame is about feeling outcast or isolated from the herd, connecting is what we need to do to alleviate it. We should start asking ourselves if we need support when it comes to doing a hard thing, and, if so, where can we get that support? (Hint: our Sisterhood is often a good place to start.) Because the truth is, we are all in this world of hard things together—no human being gets out without suffering and struggling and feeling alone.
Abs and I always say that Anxiety Sisters don’t go it alone. We mean it. We can all do hard things, but we need other people (and pets) to help us.