All through February I wrote about selective mutism and my experiences with it. If you have been enjoying reading my posts, the good news is that I’ve barely even begun! The more I write, the more I learn about myself and the different ways this condition has manifested in my life – as well as discovering some great ways to help me shake off those remaining symptoms. I am not about to stop writing … and also have a book on its way which is “an exploration into the Heart and Mind of my Selective Mutism.”
“I Have Something To Say” will be released in May – so please sign up to my newsletter if you would like to hear about the up-coming crowd-funding campaign I am planning to take pre-orders and raise the extra dollars I need to make it happen!
Yesterday I wrote about the feelings I was having as I realised I would have to prepare for my speech competition. I had realised the way that anxiety diverts my attention away from the task at hand – but I also realised that I’d like to see how far I might go if I actually did prepare properly.
As soon as I finished writing my post yesterday, I felt the familiar bubble of tightness in my stomach. It was spreading up to my chest and throwing my attention around the room. I started to panic a little – there was so much to do! The house was a mess, the kids were demanding my attention, we were all going out into town and I didn’t feel at all ready to go speak at this competition later today!
Ugh! I was freaking … my whole body had taken on a more rigid pose than normal and I couldn’t seem to make a dent in my to-do list.
Suddenly I became aware of what I was doing.
I was trying to push through my anxiety; trying to pretend it wasn’t there, and live my day without it. Considering the fact that I had a speech coming up, that wasn’t likely. Anxiety was staying until I was done, and possibly for a while after the event too. I had to find a better way of coping than this!
If anxiety were a child …
I remembered what I wrote yesterday, about speaking to my anxiety as though it was a child.
If anxiety were indeed a child, I had spent the past half hour (and the rest!) pretending that child didn’t exist. No wonder it was being so persistent!
“It’s okay!” I soothed, “We’ll do today together. You and me – we’ll go everywhere together today, and we’ll hold hands the whole time!”
Before that moment, this technique had been more of a theory to me.
Suddenly I was feeling a rush of love spiral up my body. I at once felt grounded, and a sense of peace filled my previously tight stomach.
I truly was amazed … and there was the technique I used for the rest of the day. Anxiety held my hand on the drive over to Queenstown. We walked around the shop together and we walked into the room together. We sat down on our seat together and we watched the first two speeches together, instead of me feeling the usual discomfort and wandering mind that I’d really rather hadn’t come along.
The big speech
When I stood up to speak I felt calm and relaxed. A plane flew overhead just at that moment – giving me time to pause, eye up the audience and collect my thoughts.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Contest Chair. I am standing here today because of a promise I made to myself when I was six years old …”
I had started, and I finished. My speech went to plan. Anxiety and I returned to our seat, feeling pretty happy with our effort. The other speeches were pretty awesome too – but it no longer mattered to me, because I already felt like a winner.
I had found a way to work with a feeling I had been pushing away for years. I had worked with my anxiety all day long, and I was feeling passionate, purposeful and grounded.
“A few years ago I discovered a quote that I’d like to share – and when I do, I’d like to invite you to please think about its relevance in your life …
“Fear is excitement without the breath.”
I’m not sure who it was who originally spoke these words, but over the past few years I have been exploring its relevance within my life. As I began to slowly breathe life into my fears, I did indeed sense a rising excitement.
On the same token, I have recently discovered that it doesn’t stop there. Anxiety is passion without the breath; and all those other yucky feelings we all sometimes have but would rather not also contain gifts if we’d simply breathe into them.
As I stand here today; breathing life into my fears, my anxiety, and the other yucky feelings I brought along with me; and using the words that I have long wished to speak, I like to think that my six year old self would be proud.”
And the verdict?
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