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As I opened the door to the shrink’s office both my hands were shaking non-stop (this was an everyday occurrence). It was one of the darkest times of my life, and I couldn’t see where I would end up. I thought to myself in this moment, “Am I going mental? Isn’t this where crazy people end up?”
The doctor told me I was very sick, and struggling from a whole host of self-inflicted medical issues of which anxiety was the strongest. I took the last of the money I had at the time to pay for five sessions with the shrink.
It was now session number five and all I had done so far was talk about myself and have him shake his head. I started thinking that it was all a waste of money. In this last session, it was time for the shrink to give me his verdict and send me on my way.
He said one paragraph that changed my life forever. He said:
“Tim my diagnosis is that you have all the tools already to overcome your anxiety issues. You have already taken significant steps, and I didn’t instigate any of it. “
He then continued to say:
“Everything you need to turn your life around is already in your own head, and you are one of the smartest young men that has ever walked into this office. Stop second-guessing yourself and keep taking the small steps towards reducing your anxiety. I see great things ahead for you young man!”
His words were so powerful, yet all he really did was reconfirm the action I was already taking and believe in me. It was nice that someone other than myself saw what I was capable of. This one idea is something that can transform almost anyone’s current level of success.
The story above, occurred before my personal transformation a few years ago when I used to suffer from severe anxiety. It involved predominantly experiencing daily anxiety, followed by depression and any other mental disorder you can think of. It was fuelled by my ever-increasing stress levels, caused by my obsession with business, family issues and my life heading in the wrong direction.
In this article, I am going to explain to you how this anxiety elevated my entire life to the next level. Now that you have read a bit about the anxiety I used to suffer I want you to understand that this is very normal, and lots of people have the same thing. Anxiety is nothing to be afraid of.
I am now in a fortunate stage of my life where I don’t experience the effects of anxiety anymore, and I believe any mental illness can be unlearned and used to motivate you.
Below are the twelve inspiring ways my anxiety elevated my life:
1. It made me get involved in personal development
Without my previous anxiety disorder, I would never have taken up a commitment to personal development. The way to overcome anxiety (and any mental disorder) is through constant personal development each day.
Back then, I realised that I needed to change my state of mind, so I began listening to Tony Robbins and then that led to a whole host of others like Zig Ziglar, Eric Thomas, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Jim Rohn, etc.
Most of my life, while listening to mp3’s and for the entire day, I would always have the curtains shut, and my office and bedroom were usually in total darkness.
Around the same time that I took up personal development, a strange thing happened: the curtain in my bedroom broke. This seemingly insignificant event meant that in the short term I had to keep the curtain open continuously. This changed my sleep patterns and had a real effect on me.
Shortly after, the curtain in my office broke. It was like it was supposed to happen and was a divine moment. To this day, both curtains are still broken and have to be kept open at all times.
This small reminder each day serves as an anchor for where I am taking my life and how anxiety has helped me.
Anxiety can inspire you to do lots of things, but the best thing I have found it can do in my life is to inspire you to take up personal development.
2. It can teach you to think in the now
As I researched what anxiety was and how I could overcome it, I figured out a simple concept; anxiety is thinking too much into the future, and depression is thinking too much in the past.
When I carefully analysed each day, I realised that I was thinking about events that were way into the future and hadn’t even occurred yet.
Once I started thinking of these future events, I would then begin to stress about them in advance.
The key to overcoming anxiety and using it to inspire you going forward is to stop the habit of stressing about things in the future.
Learn to think in the now and not try and control things that haven’t even occurred. Most of the time the events I was stressing about never ended up happening or turned out in an entirely different way. All of this time spent stressing on the future was wasted and made me tired constantly.
3. It got me reading books
Anxiety has inspired me to do lots of things, but one way it elevated my life was to encourage me to take up reading. For many years, I never read any books because reading small words hurt my eyes, and I didn’t have the concentration or focus (probably due to all the sugar).
After my experience with anxiety, I discovered that reading was a great way to heal my mind, and so I began reading books on an iPad which didn’t hurt my eyes. I mostly read motivational books and autobiographies of people who had done amazing things in their life.
This simple act started to rewire my brain, and it became the foundation for the success trajectory I am still on. It was a calming way to go to sleep each night rather than stressing about future events or having the TV yell at me about how bad the world was, and how horrible people could be.
4. It helped me quit coffee and alcohol
During my anxiety period, I learned to wake up with two or three coffees in the morning, have a soft drink for lunch and then bring myself back down again with alcohol at night. Up until this point, all the references society had given me made me think this way of life was normal.
Through reading, I quickly figured out that these things were fuelling my anxiety even further and that I had to give them up. As I slowly kicked these bad habits, my state of mind shifted. I stopped making poor decisions and behaving badly as a reaction to my lack of energy and lethargicness.
5. It made me start tracking my success
Often when you try and overcome anxiety, it feels like you are making no progress. One thing that anxiety taught me was that it’s important to track your success. In the short term, I began to keep a note on my iPad of all the times I had successfully conquered anxiety.
Within a few weeks, I realised I was making a lot more progress than I had previously thought. Unless you write down your win’s, you will never know just how good you are!
6. It taught me to gamify my life
A cool outcome from the anxiety crushing process was that it taught me to play games with myself. As I kept a list of wins, I started to think of ways to increase my winning score and have even more successful situations.
I have later used this same technique to inspire me to write articles, by keeping score of my progress and how well I’m doing.
The concept of gamification is a great way to fast track any component of self-development. Gamifying your life is much better than wasting your time on computer or smartphone games.
7. It helped me to take control
Through the anxiety process, I discovered that the major driver behind anxiety is control.
“Anxiety is something that can take control of your human operating system and leave you without the power to make decisions yourself.”
This concept empowered me to take back control and not let anything control my destiny. Instead of letting others make decisions about what I was going to do each day, I became stubborn and insisted on taking back control on even the smallest decisions.
Until you take back control of your own decision-making ability, you will never reach the pinnacle of success.
8. It reconnected me to the habit of learning and sales
Anxiety showed me that learning is so important, and it can help us to achieve anything and even overcome mental illness. The way I overcame anxiety, if you break it down, is through learning new ideas, unlearning bad habits and relearning what made me successful in the first place.
You need to learn new ideas from inspiring individuals around you (or blogs like this), have the discipline to acknowledge your current bad habits and beliefs, and relearn the things that you have forgotten.
So in my personal transformation I used self-help content to learn new ideas, I wrote down all my bad habits (and conquered them one by one) and I relearned how to sell by taking an entry level job in sales for a short time. I want to focus on the relearn component for a minute because this was something that had the biggest impact on me.
When people ask me what made me successful as an entrepreneur, for a long time I had no idea. Through overcoming anxiety, I learned that sales is where all my success started from. I learned that sales equals confidence, and confidence drowns out anxiety.
Do you see the benefit of severe anxiety and what it can do for you yet?
9. It showed me the power of meditation
I didn’t actually discover meditation until after I cured the majority of my anxiety, but it’s a great way to relax. Meditating, as part of the cure for anxiety, is now common practice although a few years ago it wasn’t that well known when I was going through my own treatment.
Essentially, meditation helps bring your mind back to the present and allows you to re-focus. The easiest way to try it is using an app like the one I have called “Calm.” I find that when I am required to produce moments of inspiration, meditation allows me to settle the mind and prepare for greatness.
Part of my new found inspiration has a lot to do with what anxiety did to my mind, and how meditation helped to remove those mental roadblocks. I’m sure it can help you too.
10. It changed my work life
Anxiety helped me to elevate my life by first of all crippling everything I had, and then allowing me to come to the decision that my day-to-day work life had to change drastically. If it weren’t for anxiety I would still be stuck in the same work that I hated, with the same people that brought me down and the same old beliefs that weren’t serving me.
What you do to earn a living each day has a lot to do with how inspired you are, and where your life is heading. It can be tough to change your work life unless you have an event that forces you to quit and start again. Hopefully, if you’re lucky, that event may lead you down the path of entrepreneurship.
If not, that’s okay; there are still many wonderful things you can do to contribute to mankind and discover your purpose for being on earth. After all, you only get one chance at life so use it wisely!
Severe mental illness can be the trigger for something new, and all success starts with some sort of challenge or pain first. Anxiety was very much the seed of greatness in my life, and it can do wonders for you if you get the lessons from it.
11. It made me realise everyone suffers from a degree of anxiety
Have you ever seen someone toot their horn or swear at another person? The chances are that they probably suffer from anxiety to some degree. Anxiety can make you very frustrated and cause you to take this frustration out on other people.
During my anxiety days, I was often angry at the fact that I had to deal with this issue and thought I was one of the only ones. What I now know is that lots of people have this mental illness, and that it’s what fuels most of the negative people you engage with on a daily basis.
Once I learned to identify anxiety and crush it, I found myself being much nicer to people and less frustrated. This resulted in lower levels of stress, more happiness, and a sharp increase in my overall mental and physical health.
“We are all infected with anxiety, but we have the vaccine already inside of us”
12. It taught me to be more vulnerable
The biggest lesson I got from my dance with anxiety was that it can help you elevate your life further by teaching you to be more vulnerable.
The only way to overcome anxiety is first to admit to yourself that you have it, and then to seek advice by being vulnerable enough to talk to another person about it.
Without courage, you will never elevate your life to the next level. Courage involves you accepting that you need to get vulnerable on a regular basis.
You need to do things that are difficult, and produce the good kind of anxiety, all with the acceptance that you could fail and learn a great lesson at the end of it — what a horrible thing that would be.