She carried much anxiety in her words.

There was the fear of increased responsibilities in her upcoming promotion…parenting her 12-year old daughter…watching her husband struggle in his job…wondering how to care for her aging parents…navigating an upcoming move…caring for her twin boys…serving in her volunteer position….it was A LOT.  Honestly, I felt the weariness sweep over me as I listened to her.

As she shared, I saw the reflection of what countless women are facing.  Many women live in a constant state of duress because of how much they are carrying and how much they are caring.

In listening to women for years, I continue to be astonished at the demands women are facing.  The phrase, “I am Woman, Hear me Roar!” often runs through my mind as I listen to the responsibilities they are carrying…and how much they are caring for what and who matters to them.

I too have struggled in this area and eventually longed for a better way.  I began to ask the question, “How do I use my constant companion of anxiety to learn how to befriend myself?”    Learning to use the angst associated with carrying too much as a tool, I began to realize how unkind I treated myself.

When anxiety struck, whether it manifested in mild stomach rumblings or rather strong reactions, I heard my inner-voice berating myself with demands and unkind questions such as: What is wrong with me?  Pull it together!  Keep up!  Do more!  How do I get rid of this anxiety?  I wish I could just do better.  Clearly, this just perpetuated the anxious thinking.

I wouldn’t speak that way to any friend of mine…why then did I speak so harshly to myself?  It was time to befriend myself and treat myself as someone I loved.

For instance, when anxiety hits, use it as a signal to stop and pause….ask helpful questions such as:  Where am I nervous?  What am I not saying?  Who can I ask for help?  What do I need to release?  How is this aligned with my values or goals?  How do I make time to listen to what’s bothering me? 

This act of using anxiety to better befriend ourselves causes it to dissipate as we make room for new answers and improved vision for forward momentum.

The next time anxiety strikes….use it as a flag to stop and pause.  Try befriending yourself by asking kind questions to help you get the support you need.  Ultimately, in learning to better befriend yourself, it will lead you into the fulfilled life you long to step into.  I know it did for me.