mental health

For My Fellow Social Anxiety Bunnies

Once upon a time in my early 20’s, I visited my GP because I was experiencing persistent dizzy spells. With this being my only symptom, my clever GP thankfully figured out I was actually experiencing anxiety, with the dizziness being caused by consistent hyperventilation… like a chihuahua.. that has taken ecstasy. She referred me for 5 free sessions of counselling with a lovely lady in Manukau.

I was a little unprepared for counselling. I thought the nice blonde; possibly German lady was going to fix me right up without me participating or contributing to the sessions in any way at all. Sadly, this is not quite how counselling works and unsurprisingly, the nice German lady and I did not get very far in 5 sessions.

However, all was not lost and despite my complete lack of contribution, the lovely German lady managed to impart a couple of absolute pearls, which have resonated with me on many occasions since.

For as long as I could remember, I had held the belief that I was some kind of sub-species of human being. That everyone else around me was worthy of good things and good opportunities, but for some reason, I was not. I have no idea why I felt this way. I just did. In any given situation, I believed that everybody else deserved the good position they were in, but somehow, I was less worthy than them all. This made me feel very awkward in social situations. Perhaps you can relate.

When the lovely German lady discovered that I felt awkward (I remember her saying it because her accent meant that she pronounced her w’s like v’s, awkvard), she gave me a life-changing (although very strange at the time) assignment.

The assignment was this: To go home and make a list. The list was to contain 100 items, and it was to be made up of all of the things that I had in common with other people. This felt rather foreign because so often we are told to celebrate our differences and the things that make us unique. Nevertheless, I am a chronic obliger and the lovely German lady had assigned a task, therefore I did it.

I started the list:

  1. I have 2 eyes
  2. I have 2 ears
  3. I have a brain
  4. I have a name
  5. I have hands
  6. I have feet

I’m sure you get the idea.

By the time I had finished this simple task, I had developed an unshakeable understanding that I was in many ways, just like everybody else. Not terribly different, even from those I most admired. I certainly wasn’t some unworthy sub-species of human being.

This realisation encourages me to chase things I had previously thought weren’t for “someone like me”. Because in reality, nothing really separates me.

Why do we think this way about ourselves? Where is the justification for it? Hopefully this exercise helps you to see that there is none. That you are just as worthy as anyone around you to succeed and have good things and be found in good places.

I did have another thought while I was mulling this wee post over in my head. Perhaps, there is something on the list that you don’t have. Perhaps you don’t have two eyes, perhaps you can’t hear well, you might not have much money, maybe your upbringing was unstable, or you don’t have confidence in the way you look. Perhaps you spend a lot of time wishing that you had the one thing on that list that you are missing. Whatever it is you think you are missing, I hope that if you make a list for yourself, you are able to see that one perceived “flaw” or “lack” does not discount you. That it is one item, on a list of many attributes. That it is not worth you diminishing your own worth for one more second. You are every bit as worthy as any other human being to pursue the life you were created for.

Go get it my friend.


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