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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hunter

Everyday Anxiety: Walking on Eggshells No More


Man with head in hands struggling with anxiety


Anxiety is a frightening emotion, but it’s not the stress-induced adrenalin of a haunted house-ride or the fear of a car accident. It’s the low hum, bardo feeling of being somewhat unsettled, always light years from being totally at ease. It’s the queasy feeling in your stomach, the breathing into a paper bag, the shame of heaving sobs in public, but also the fear that there is something very wrong with your brain, that you can never feel normal again. The fear of freaking out again and again and again, the never-ending threat that you are standing in the middle of a minefield, and a tiny misstep could blow you to kingdom come. The phobias of others may seem inexplicable, but for the 19.1% Americans with anxiety issues, it’s somehow relatable. We grit our teeth and step around the figurative landmines, anything to avoid startling ourselves into oblivion.


The Invisible Weight

Anxiety doesn’t arrive on a white charger with trumpets blaring. Anxiety is a fragile creature, sneaky and slippery, a burrowing worm that digs its way into our psyche, weaving a tiny web of tethers. It’s the creeping disquiet before a conversation. It’s the buzzing mental overdrive, replaying real-time scenarios on a loop. It’s the knot in the stomach that strikes a misplaced question. It’s the feeling of not knowing what lies ahead. These are the everyday anxieties, the soft undercurrents that agitate the subtle surface of our peace.


The Masks We Wear

They’re the masks – the smiles, the laughter, the bravado – we wear as we pick our way through the eggshells without breaking one. But eggshells crackle all the way through. Every step strains our emotional equilibrium. We learn to hide so well those things inside us – the fears, the doubts, the grief – that they never see the light of day.


The Tyranny of "What Ifs"

Uncertainty is the breeding ground for anxiety. Like a shark it feasts on the endless ‘what ifs’ that occupy our mind: What if I make a fool of myself? What if I’m not good enough? What if this all falls to pieces? Questions like these overshadow everything, whether raising children, attending meetings, doing the dishes, or even getting out of bed. Each decision is fraught with danger, each interaction threatening. So you tread carefully, wary of any sign that something might be in store for you.


A Compassionate Perspective

One of the most effective ways to manage the minefield of anxiety is to be compassionate for ourselves and for each other. We’re not alone in this; billions of others walk the same path. If we are kind to others and to ourselves, we create a world of compassion and understanding. Being compassionate to ourselves is a bit harder. We tend to have the misguided belief we should be in absolute control of these feelings. We think when life is moving smoothly we should have bouts of anxiety.


Embracing Imperfection

There is so much emphasis on perfection in the world. However, the truth is that we are all a tad imperfect, a tad delicate, a tad human. And it’s the cracks, so to speak, that make us all slightly different, give us dimension and character. We learn the most when we embrace our mistakes.


Conclusion

So, walking through the everyday situations that can cause anxiety is tough but possible. If we can allow ourselves to recognize just how fragile we really are, just how easily we are tripped up by shortcomings and imperfections, then we can move through this minefield with greater skill and compassion and, hopefully, grow in the process. We can, quite literally, walk on eggshells in pursuit of a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.


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