You were asked to cat sit for your neighbour. They looked after Jelly the Fish when you were away last summer so you kinda had to say yes. The cat is scary a.f. It erratically swipes at your face when your sitting on your own couch, and has hectic pupils that say “come closer and I’ll make you my bitch”. You sit hidden on the tiles in your locked bathroom and ponder your next moves. Smooshy starts scratching at the antique wooden door. Relentlessly trying to get at you, waiting, and ready to pounce!
What do you do next?
a) Stay in the bathroom. Smooshy will go away eventually right? RIGHT?
- Unfortunately anxiety doesn’t just disappear when WE pretend to disappear from the world. Believe me, I’ve tried that technique. Shutting yourself in, to shut IT out…just shuts you in…with IT. While isolation may offer some short-term relief as the worldly stimulus subsides and you can distract yourself for a moment. It is not a long-term solution. Time alone with anxiety for too long can move from self-care to rumination pretty quickly. The stories in our head can become louder as we spin deeper out of reality in our bubble of solitude. We can start to actually believe our thoughts and fears are already true.
b) Open the door and kick Smooshy in the face. Then brace yourself for the consequences of a counter attack.
- Fighting anxiety is a bold move. It’s like saying “fuck you” to a T-rex and expecting it to run away with its head between its legs. Unlikely! While boldly attacking your enemy is often seen as a hero’s mission. When you attack your own anxiety, it is you who ends up injured. Not because you ARE your anxiety, but because you’re pouring salt into an already pus filled wound. Yell at IT, and IT will yell back louder. Attack you more viciously.
c) Walk out and pretend like Smooshy isn’t even there. Passive aggression for the win!
- You may have heard the saying, “what you resist, persists”. Ignore your anxiety and see if it’s true! Watch anxiety as it starts to leak in to all your other living self-doubts and criticisms. It wants to be seen and heard, and it wants it NOW! As long as anxiety is alive and breathing, it will find you from any angle it can. It’s like asking a 4 year old to stay in the corner with their back turned to the wall for 5 hours straight. They will either scream or giggle cheekily non-stop to let everyone know they are still there…and it’s inevitable they will turn around again at some point.
d) Call your partner and tell them to come home with cat food ASAP. Surely you can bribe your way outta this…
- Another anxiety avoiding technique we all know and love. Stuff. that. mother. f. down! Eat. Drink. Party. Shop. Gamble. Smoke. Rave. Busy yourself with project after project. Attend event after event. There are endless ways to “manage” our anxiety and emotions. Putting so many things on top of anxiety to keep it covered, and out of sight and out of mind, is futile. The water will eventually boil and lift the lid people! The end result…mess!
e) Start chatting softly to Smooshy under the door. Like the crazy cat human that you secretly know you are.
- Talking to your anxiety may sound a little woo woo at first. Ok, maybe even a lot woo woo. But when a cat is hissing at you, or a dog is barking at you, is your first instinct not to calmly and kindly chat to the animal? We do that because we believe creating a soft, gentle, calm environment will assist the animal to also calm down and be soft and gentle towards us. Talking to our anxiety in a respectful and loving way can absolutely change the trajectory of our day!
Pick e)! Pick e)!
So lets say you picked e) and spoke to Smooshy with all the gooeyness and love a crazy cat person can muster. She immediately softens and wraps warm fluffiness around your feet. You’re still afraid you might fall over her. But you’ve begun a relationship now, so you know if you DO fall, she at least won’t attack you while you’re down.