Ever sat back to think when you started getting anxiety? I mean, I am sure when you were younger you did not know that it was anxiety. I realized mine started when I was in primary school, a simple thing like a test would have me in a state. I would start hearing my uncle’s voice in my head scolding me for not getting enough the marks. If you know what I am talking about, share your story in the comment section.
Family gatherings gave me anxiety because I knew at some point I would be a topic; someone would ask how I am doing in school. Someone would offer to take me and stay with me.
I would be asked questions that I had answers to but would be stuck between respect and speaking my mind, which would get me in trouble, so then I would just keep quiet. Then the insults would rain. Hated it! My guardians would let this happen and that was not helpful at all.
Here are a few things that I picked up on, you may have gone through a few yourself:
YOU WERE NOT HELPED TO FACE YOUR FEARS THE RIGHT WAY – our parents hated fear, the moment they sensed it they would go into ninja mode. They believed in kicking the fear out of you so quickly, so they made you do the things you feared without a care in the world what it effect it could have on you mentally or emotionally.
Whilst exposure is the best way to conquer fear, it has to be done gradually through practice, gentle nudging and guidance. This way, one gains confidence and knows how to face their fears, one step at a time.
YOU WERE NOT TAUGHT EMOTIONAL SKILLS – if there is something that was thrown at me so much; it was school. Oh that was very important! More important than anything else in the world. If you read my book, The Kings That Didn’t Need A Queen, I talk about how I yearned for an emotional connection but never got it.
Parents are so stuck on children excelling, they forget that when we do excel we are going to deal with people and situations that need us to be emotionally intelligent too. We smashed into anxiety because we were not taught healthy coping skills.
YOUR PARENTS WERE STUCK IN THE RAT RACE – my aunt once told me that my uncle would brag about me to his friends. I know she meant for that to encourage me to keep studying hard and getting good grades. It totally made me anxious, the thought of disappointing him and having nothing to say to his friends when they ask about me next really choked me.
I am still not sure why our parents were very competitive with us, but it surely played a part in us living in anxiety. Their race was never meant to be ours, but they really threw us in the deep end.
YOUR PARENTS GAVE YOU UNREALISTIC PRAISE – as for me, I was made to believe I would be the best doctor in the nation. Nobody took the time out to think of how much wounds made me uncomfortable. So I went around chasing that dream because of that praise, oh what a fail ladies and gentlemen!
Simple things like, ‘you are the best athlete on the team,’ can yield anxiety because now all that one wants to do is become the best even though they know it is not in them. This also results in low self-esteem.
YOU WERE SOLD ON HAPPINESS – how many times did you see anyone of your parents cry or express frustration? Our parents did a great job of acting happy and making us feel like that is what life is about happiness. On top of that, they worked overtime to make sure we were happy.
By the time we learned about frustration, sadness, anger, and disappointment being a part of life, we did not know how to deal with it. These feelings make us feel like we are failing at life whereas it is normal for us to go through it. So, darling, it is ok to go through these feelings!
YOU WERE PARENTED OUT OF FEAR AND GUILT – did your parents ever let you out of their sight? How often did they give in to your tantrums or wants? That was guilt and fear controlling them because they too didn’t know how to deal with it. They too suffered from anxiety but didn’t know it (this is my assumption). So what did we learn from that? That uncomfortable emotions are intolerable.
ELECTRONICS WERE YOUR ESCAPE – until today, when I am feeling low, I shy away from dealing with my emotions. So I head onto the internet and hope to find something that will make me laugh. I will look for a movie to download so I am distracted from my own emotions until I play myself and watch something that takes me back into my emotions.
Many of us are in this pool and it may be because talking about our emotions was never an option given to us, or if we did we were said to be weak. My aunt only learned that I was bullied in high school way after I was done with school. So we bottled up and avoided dealing with it altogether. We never learned how to cope with simple everyday challenges.
YOUR PARENTS STOOD AS PROTECTORS INSTEAD OF GUIDES – they thought they were guiding you when in fact they were just protecting you from their own fears. They did all they could to make sure that you were not emotionally or physically scarred, so as a result, dealing with life realities makes us very nervous and everything looks impossible.
I can testify to this; life has fallen apart so many times and each time, I feel like it is best to end my life than even attempt to fix it. In those times that I feel like a failure and that I cannot get past the hurdle, it takes so much for me to actually just take the risk. I was equipped to be smart and excel but never to face challenges on my own.
YOU NEVER GOT ENOUGH TIME OUT TO BE WITH FRIENDS OR MAKE FRIENDS – protection gone overboard! I was expected to be in the house at all times, I would see friends at school and that was it. Going for a movie was something that I applied for a month in advance and await the approval and if I get it, I would be asked a million questions. If the movie ended at 3 pm I was expected to be home at 3:30 pm.
I am a loner, time to myself is precious and at the same time I do not manage disagreements well, I am learning to but generally, I suck at it. I did things alone and my way for so long that taking someone else’s ways into consideration is difficult. A balance of solitary time and playtime would have easily taught me how to manage disagreements, give my opinion and not be sorry for it, as well as to stand up for myself.
YOU WERE MADE TO BELIEVE THAT ASKING FOR HELP MEANS YOU HAVE FAILED – you were given pressure to be the helper and not the one asking for help. So if you asked a friend to help you with a subject they were a good at, it was best to be kept a secret because why don’t YOU know. Today, life will have you on your knees and one phone call could save you but you cannot do it. The thought of needing help makes you anxious, let alone asking for it.
To the new parents and parents to be, may you do a better job so we can have a better world. There are many things we need to unlearn and I hope we figure it out, together, so if any of these resonate with you and you have overcome them please share how in the comment section.