Throughout the course of a day or a week, we assume many different roles. During the day, I am an advocate (my job), but when I leave, I take on the role of avid yogi, friend, daughter, sister, committee member, and more. I don’t always notice when I switch from role to role, but there is a palpable sense of ease I feel when I transition from work to home; from being bubbly and animated, to being relaxed and withdrawn; from a messy office desk to a clean, cozy apartment.
There are certain roles (or titles), however, that follow us wherever we go. Even if I’m at work, I won’t stop being a friend when a friend texts me for advice; I usually accept the distraction from a monotonous day.
But the titles that I have the hardest time disconnecting from are the titles I give myself. And, let’s be honest, they aren’t always the most flattering titles that I have.
Those who know me well know that I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder. For the longest time, when thinking of how I defined myself, I would use the word “anxious”. I gave this title more power over myself than it deserved. I was letting the term define me, my actions, and my feelings. After all, if being anxious was just a part of who I am, what’s the use in trying to work through it?
Other titles I have given myself include: unintelligent, ugly, worthless, incapable, and immature, just to name a few.
What I’ve learned is this: how you define yourself and talk to yourself matters way more than how others define you. When I say matters, it’s not as if your opinion is more important than anyone else’s; rather, it has more of an impact on your day to day. How you define yourself is going to impact how you act, react, and interact with others.
For me, I have to replace my title of “anxious” to “normal”. I have to sit with the fact that my anxiety didn’t make me unique or special. Conversely, it is just the cross that I have to bear. Everyone has something that plagues them in this life, and this is mine.
By changing my narrative by one word, I am able to refocus my energy and not dwell on the anxious thoughts I am having. Adapting to my new “normal”, I am less overwhelmed by the anxious feelings I had and am able to work through them better.
Bottom line, know what power you have over yourself. Be honest and identify your narratives of yourself, and ask yourself how they affect you daily. The goal isn’t to be perfect; the goal is to be honest with yourself.