"Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it."
― Kahlil Gibran
I always have maintained that my two daughters are among my greatest teachers, and recently, my oldest daughter taught me a valuable lesson in being good to myself when I was feeling badly.
For the last few years, I have dealt with recurrent bouts of depression and anxiety, and thankfully, they no longer plague me each day. The depression stays at bay for the most part, but the anxiety rears its head from time to time, leaving me completely out of sorts.
When the anxiety overwhelmed me yesterday, I was so fortunate to be able to confide in the trusted people who make up my support system, as they helped me to navigate the emotional minefield once again. I also was treated to an unexpected source of kindness and support that came in the form of my thirteen year old daughter.
I am very careful not to burden my daughters with the emotional punch that the depression and anxiety can pack, but I also am honest, in age appropriate ways about my feelings, as I want them to understand them and to know it is okay to express feelings and emotions and to ask for help, if needed. I have made clear that they are never the cause of these negative feelings, and they understand and believe me. They display compassion and kindness that some adults lack, and my oldest daughter demonstrated this in such a simple, yet kind and powerful, way.
Thanks to her petite stature, my oldest daughter still can easily and comfortably sit on my lap to snuggle with me, which she did last night. She knew I was grieving the recent loss of my grandmother, but she was unaware of some other issues that had triggered a wave of anxiety.
As she hugged me, my daughter said, "Mom, I don't want you to be sad, but I know it's okay. Here's what helps me when I feel stressed or sad, so, it will help you, too":
1. Remember, it's not the end of the world.
Of course, she was right, as I knew that these current situations could and would change and that these negative feelings would pass, as well. Her wise words were like a helping hand to pull me out of the negative quicksand that was pulling me under, as they helped put things in perspective.
2. Have a good cry.
Tears can be a great release, so, instead of fighting to hold them back, I let them flow later. Rather than berate myself for what I sometimes perceive to be a sign of weakness, I regarded my tears as an outlet for the anxiety and grief. I felt as if I would never stop crying, but I did, and when I did, I felt a bit better.
3. Go to bed, and try again tomorrow.
It will be okay. The fear of the unknown and my desire to control the outcome of future events and current situations often trigger an anxiety attack, and I feel like it will never get better. Sometimes, when I feel this way, I skimp on self-care, including allowing my body and mind to rest. So, I put myself to bed at a reasonable hour, and even though the anxiety greeted me to begin my day, a night of rest and support from friends helped me reclaim my peace of mind to salvage my day.
As I recover from this latest battle with the anxiety, I am looking for the lessons it has to offer me. Two of the greatest lessons are to be kinder to myself and to take my daughter's advice more often, as she is both kind and wise indeed.
Just one thing each day . . .
This article was originally featured on Kindness Blog