How Did I Change My Own Overachieving Anxiety?
I wish I could say that in all my inner wisdom I just knew I had to stop my overachieving and so I stopped...smh...that's how my perfectionistic brain expects things to go. But the truth is much more brutal. All real change is.
In reality, I was ill and had no other choice but to slow down. My declining health forced me to change. So after many months of fighting (beating my head against a wall) I began to realize I would have to give in. Remember, I am hard-headed! So it's no surprise that only after a fight did I start to change.
(This is a picture of me in Bali when my illness started, when in Rome do as the Romans. So I am in their healing waters, but the shared water grossed me out but I still did it. LOL)
1. Healing My Trauma Brain
I have my own developmental trauma history, that I do not discuss often, because I think that when "my father knew better he did better." His style of child rearing was common during the 80s. He did what was standard for that time, which we now know is trauma based.
I tried to manage my overachieving anxiety through actions, but the intensity of my overachieving was overwhelming until I treated the trauma driving the anxiety.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and IMTT (Image Transformation Therapy)
These two processes have and continue to be regular processes I utilize to work on my overachieving anxiety and urges. They help to release these urges, and anxiety driving my actions, and thus minimize my trauma responses, however big or small. This has been essential to changing these emotionally driven habits, and making them more of a choice rather than a reaction.
I meet with a therapist monthly for my own inner work. This is essential to moving through my own stuff and to create freedom within my own body. I don't think our work is ever done, so I practice what I preach.
I watched so many podcasts on sleep and educated myself on the importance of sleep and how to improve it. HPHI.life helped in this department. Vitamins and habits greatly impact our sleep cycles and the underlying anxiety affecting it.
This consists of darkness two hours before bed, tea, a hot bath, sometimes ice baths, I have looked into the blue light glasses. I have changed exercise times to get the optimal flow in my body, but this one is a continual work in progress. I am genetically hardwired to be easily excited, emotionally and physically. So my sleep can be thrown off by the simplest things.
3. Old Lady Exercises
I have started engaging in more relaxing forms of exercise, as I roll my eyes. I hate the idea of it, but my body appreciates it and I feel better overall. After a long work day, my body responds well to walking instead of pounding out a bike ride. It has probably taken me two years to concede to this fact. Yeah, it's totally insane, but I love endurance sports and so not engaging in endurance training 4 to 5 days a week has been a sad acceptance for me. But honestly once a week is enough, and I enjoy my old lady walks with my close friend.
4. Habits for my overachiever urges
ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)
The human brain is fed by our daily habits and if you have anxiety and you feed your overachiever anxiety through habits that consist of :perfectionistic "reflection" which is really -- ruminating over projects, conversations, human interactions, or work followed by memory checking, scenario bending, or reassurance seeking. Basically you are increasing your anxiety through your habits. ERP and OCD taught me about these mental loops and how our internal and external actions increase our anxiety.
Feelings are the lock and our habits are the key. If you want to be anxious feed your anxious feelings through thought practices and habits. If you want to be free of your anxiety, engage in thought practices and habits opposite your anxious feelings. Thank you DBT. Managing my overachiever urges has been essential to minimizing my anxious feelings.
5. Daily Meditation
Guided Meditations, Image Transformation Therapy, Easy Meditations
Now I am not much for meditating. In my history I stared at a dot on the wall for 30 minutes a day. Torturous, but it taught me to be present in the moment like I was to the dot. It also taught me to redirect my attention gently.
Since that time I have done various meditations and tried a yoga practice but they never stuck. Today I do a daily IMTT guided meditation based on whatever tension, feelings, history, or images that are currently affecting me. I love this approach because it helps me release the stress from my body and creates so much peace within. I do it in the mornings to start my day fresh. This is a practice because all good things need to become a habit for maximum benefits.
These are just a few techniques that I have used and continue to use to move through my overachiever anxiety...but there are many others. I think it's important that people know that therapists struggle too! Through our own struggles and identifying our own humanity, we are better humans and thus better therapists.