It’s Not Them. It’s You.
It’s not really you but it is the way your mind tends to work. It’s our mindset, or as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, it’s about having “perspective.”
Not too long ago, I came close to having a full on anxiety attack for the first time. Rapid breathing. My mind racing. A sense of loneliness. The world crashing down.
And coming from a counseling background, you would think that I would be immune to any mental health conditions or triggers but as a mental health practitioner, we work so closely with folx struggling with all sorts of challenges that we need a reminder that we too are just as susceptible to mental breakdowns and burnouts.
At the time, I felt discouraged because I felt that I was not surrounded by positive people nor living in a location that was nature-friendly. So, I was quick to blame others for not being as ambitious as I was and quick to make excuses that living in sunnier parts of the U.S, such as San Diego, would make my problems disappear.
This is when I reached out to one of my great friends and life mentor, Sister Tabitha Wiggins. The first thing she says is, “What I know to be true is that the wilderness does not last always. That, this, similar to other times in our lives, is temporary. Rest in that. Knowing that what’s on the other side of this is a breakthrough. Is community. Is love in its most pure and unadulterated form.” And suddenly, the breathing slowed down and the mind came to rest knowing that the rain never last.
As I began to think about the type of energy that I am accepting from others and the energy that I am giving, I could not help but feel powerless. I initially felt that I had to accept the energy that others gave me. But, I do have a choice. You have a choice. We all have the choice of who and how we interact with the people around us.
The first step is knowing the kind of energy that you are willing to accept based on what you need at this moment in time. This takes some time in the department of self-awareness. Dig deep and then a little deeper. Think about the kind of energy that brings you the most joy. An energy that brings out your inner child and a sense of adventure and playfulness.
I realized that I was giving others my undivided attention and emotional support while the energy that I was accepting was not quite the same. Also, I was giving some people unwelcoming energy because I hadn’t been able to clearly express and communicate the kind of energy that I would like from them. I had to make a change because the energy that was I giving and accepting was not congruent, hence my sense of anxiety and perceived unhappiness.
For example, I have been providing my father with my undivided attention whenever we chat about his major life events. This is something that has been going on since I can remember. I ask inquisitive questions and dive deep into his life but rarely, if ever, does he provide that emotional support and undivided attention for me. I need that energy reciprocated.
One evening when he arrived home from work, he began to tell me about his work day, while I sat there with a ball full of anger, resentment, and frustration in my throat, until I burst. I boldly told him, “Pa, I listen to you about work and your life most of the time. I need you to do the same for me and listen to my life and truly listen.” And we both sat there in that raw moment. I voiced what I needed, and knew that I was not going to continue accepting his energy if the energy that I was giving was not reciprocated. My father nodded and said, “I will listen and do better asking about your life mijo.”
That was such a beautiful moment in my life because, regardless of my father’s answer, I was able to stand in my truth and power. I was able to set a healthy boundary and regain my perspective in that I do have a choice in what I accept from others. Thankfully, he has stood by his word and our relationship continues to blossom.
These three questions allow me to regain a sense of control of my inner world and in it, reflects an outer world of renewed choices, possibilities, and hope. They allow me to shift my perspective from victim blaming and seeing my world’s cup half empty yet full of anxiety to taking ownership of my own reality through my daily choices of the kind energies I accept and give and seeing my world’s cup full to the brim with gratitude and self-awareness.
“Everyone deserves to live a joyful life filled with integrity,” said Sister Tab. And a key starting point is to recognize what energy we are giving and accepting and whether they are congruent. This is a big, first step in regaining your perspective and achieving a joyful life.
What kind of energy do you give and accept? And are they congruent?
It’s Not Them. It’s You.
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