Honoring Your Truth—The Whole Truth: Not Just the Pretty Parts
Recently, I have been struggling again with anxiety and depression, and it’s taught me a lesson I thought I’d already learned: to listen to my body. I find it fascinating how when things are going well in our lives and we feel good whether that be physically or mentally that we tend to abandon many of the tools that supported us to feel good in the first place. I am just as guilty.
I’ve had some degree of anxiety and depression for a good portion of my life. After my father’s murder, they intensified to a whole new level. Thankfully, through daily meditation, exercise, eating healthy, life coach tools, and, let’s not forget, some good medication, my anxiety and depression came back under control. Eventually I consulted with my psychiatrist about reducing my medication, and she supported the idea. I’m not anti-medication; I simply did not want to be on more than my body needed.
Looking back, however, perhaps there was another, deeper reason why I wanted to reduce my medications: because I felt better, I told myself that my anxiety disorder had dissipated. I believed I was now equipped to tackle the everyday stresses of life without medication.
While my anxiety and depression had definitely improved, I wasn’t being completely honest with myself. The truth is that I am better equipped to tackle the everyday stresses of life now—as long as I am utilizing all the tools in my toolbox, and that includes medication. These tools help me lead a life that is full of meaning.
Most of us tend not to utilize all the tools in our toolbox. I think rather than accept ourselves as is, and accepting there is no shame in utilizing the tools, we try to force ourselves beyond our limits. I know that I am guilty of this whether it be with anti-anxiety medication, choosing to not use a cane when my hip is begging for me to, or making a decision to attend a festival when my body would simply prefer to rest. Why do we do this? I think that we are denying and resisting where we find ourselves on any particular day. Recently, I’ve heard several people describing how they need to either “push past” or “force themselves into” uncomfortable scenarios in order to claim their rightful place in their life. I completely disagree with this theory. For me, pushing ourselves to do things that are uncomfortable for us is denying who we are and what our circumstances are at any given time. Our bodies’ communication is our bodies’ way of telling us which direction is in our best interests.
In fact, my recent bout with anxiety and depression stemmed from not listening to a message my body was sending me about how it was time to reach into the toolbox. I was aware that my right hip was degenerating, but I had taken such good care of my body that I began to feel better. I was walking without a cane, swimming a mile a few times a week, and so on. But the degeneration was still real. We don’t grow back cartilage and the make-up of a joint. So, while I had taken such good care of myself and I was able to carry my body in a healthier way, the reality of my hip had not changed. If anything, the hip had continued to decline—just as expected. However, my hip degeneration was not occurring on my planned timeline. I have a big trip coming up to Zambia. I wanted the decline to happen after I returned. Interesting, controlling thinking, I know. Tell me you have not had similar thoughts. (For more about my hip decline, see these past articles: “Injury and Illness: Friend or Foe" and "Learn to Trust Your Body’s Inner Wisdom.”)
My anxiety was my body’s way of telling me to grieve the trip that I had imagined and to be open to a trip to Africa that was not completely planned by me. Does that make the trip any less fabulous? I doubt it. I will still see amazing sights and animals and have the opportunity of a lifetime. It was important for me to make peace with where I find my body today and to ask my partner and the safari guide for what I want at any given time. It will be important for me to listen to my body and realize that one day it may feel like walking and the next day it may not. Either scenario is absolutely fine. However, it was important for me to grieve in order for me to truly understand that each scenario is fine.
What’s wrong with taking care of ourselves and advocating for what we want and what feels comfortable to us? Why don’t we do more of that? I think we believe that people won’t accept us for who we are. We think we should be over our grieving, done with our anxiety; we want to say we moved on to a different place than where we find ourselves. So, we push ourselves into situations that historically make us uncomfortable to prove something to others or ourselves.
I supported people with disabilities for many years, and I learned to listen to them and their truths. If being in crowded environments created great anxiety and tension for them, then I honored that truth. If people used wheelchairs, I did not expect them to use the stairs. There is power in honoring your truth, which helps you in living your best life. Let’s learn from people with disabilities who have learned to advocate for themselves. Get to know who you are and what makes you feel good and what makes you uncomfortable. Communicate those things to the people in your life. It’s important for us to give the people in our lives the opportunity to show up for us. Many times we don’t give them the chance. Instead, we make assumptions about what they want us to do or how they will perceive our requests. Let people in. Let them know that going into crowded restaurants is uncomfortable at this point in time, and you would rather be comfortable while enjoying their company. Own your story and all that it means. Ask for support. It’s alright! It’s not a sign of weakness to not be able to do everything. It’s a sign of strength to own your story and love yourself just as you are.
Do you know what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you feel uncomfortable?
Do you honor your body’s wishes?
Give yourself permission to ask others for what would support you to be at your best.
Brene Brown is one of my heroes. Here is one quote from her that I believe supports the idea of living your life honestly.
I believe that many people don’t ask for help or support because they are fearful about what others may think. So, it may seem risky to ask for what supports you to be your best self. However, ask yourself is that as risky as giving up on who you essentially are? Things to ponder.
I also came across this amazing quote and image and immediately felt drawn to it. It speaks to me because I believe it beautifully describes my anxiety, depression and epilepsy. I hope that you will find it helpful as well.
I thought this Ralph Marston video goes well with this e-newsletter. And remember that asking for what you want, need, or for support is always an option to all of us who want to make our dreams come true.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching