been feeling anxious, but not sure why… how I look inwards to discover the source of my anxiety and regulate it :)

Lately, I have been feeling my anxiety surging up once again. I find it quite frustrating that I still get anxious from time to time despite having put in so much work to cultivate mindfulness, and to live more in the present. Sometimes I wonder if my anxiety would ever go away, if I would one day feel completely at peace. That would probably be extremely difficult right? Given that new life situations and challenges are thrown at us all the time, I guess the only way to go about it is to keep accumulating and strengthening our mental tools and mental resilience to deal with these situations. I want to believe that efforts have not been wasted although I may be in a bit of a low now.

I decided to dedicate this blogpost to everything I am currently anxious about. I hope this will clear my mind out, help me process my thoughts and ultimately regulate my emotions. I hope this will help anyone reading ease their anxiety a little too.

Things I am currently anxious about:

  1. My grandmother who is 80+ was just diagnosed with acute leukaemia. She could either undergo chemo or choose to not get treatment (but would deteriorate within weeks or months).
  2. I have been dating my current boyfriend for 4 months whom I met in uni in Edinburgh. However, since the summer holiday started, I have gone home to Malaysia. I just got an internship in KL, which means I won’t see him until late September (I initially planned to go back to Edinburgh at the start of August). We would have spent the same amount of time apart as we have together (by the time we reunite). I am anxious that things won’t be the same by then or that one of us would lose feelings or fall out of touch.
  3. I got an internship at a firm that feels extremely aligned with my values. However, I do not know what to expect and this is my first real internship.
  4. This internship ends on the 15th of September, uni teaching starts on the 19th of September. If I leave on the 16th, I would probably arrive in Edinburgh on the 17th as it is a 13 hour flight. I would have one day to move out of my current flat and move into a new flat.

These are all the current uncertainties in my life that had been making me quite anxious. Here is my attempt at reframing them:

  1. I have always been really close to my grandmother. She took care of me when I was a baby. She often talks about how as a baby, I would always poop in her hands when she’s carrying me by the neck and bum after a shower. She also always cooks the best food for everyone, she spends long hours preparing the most elaborate meals whenever we visit. She is one of the kindest and strongest person I know, with a positive and humorous outlook on life. I think she had really lived her life well, she raised six children in poverty and all of them made it to uni (first gen). I am so proud of her, and I admire her so much.

    Since she is still alive now, I want to cherish the last few moments I can have with her as opposed to feeling sad from the anticipation of her death. Feeling sad and anxious about her death will make it impossible to have fun with her, to laugh with her, shower her with love and spend quality time together. Besides that, she had been making jokes around her death–she got a perm the other day because “she wants to look presentable upon death”. Despite feeling overall pretty weak, and experiencing a sharp drop in blood pressure, she’s still so cheerful everyday, she still goes to the park for a walk every morning, she can still tell tales, she even offered to alter one of my trousers for me today (she was a tailor). How admirable is that?

    I just want to immerse myself in the present moment, really really cherish our time together. When she eventually passes away, I will look back at our memories fondly. She will always be an inspiration to me and will always be in my memory. But I know such is life–impermanent. I know she will want me to be happy even after she is gone, so of course, my life would have to continue on. I would still have many people that I love and care about by my side, I would still have myself.
  2. As for my boyfriend, I really really like this boy. I have not liked anyone this much since 2017 I swear. I think we have a really strong relationship. He makes me laugh, he makes me feel comfortable, I can always be me around him, and most importantly he makes me grow. He makes me an even more compassionate person, and to be more carefree. He challenges me intellectually too as we share conversations about philosophy, politics, social issues, and more. I really like being around him.

    I just have to trust that our relationship is strong enough to sustain through the next few months (which I do)! Everything is going well now, we have been keeping in touch, I have been enjoying our calls and his snaps.

    **side note: Besides that, I met my best friend in 2020 January, we became really close right off the bat and we saw each other everyday. But when covid stuck in March, we both left Edinburgh but managed to stay in touch until I went back in January 2021. Despite that, when we met up again, it was like nothing changed, our friendship still felt as magical as before. So, I believe it will be the same for my boyfriend and I. πŸ™‚

    As cheesy as it is, if it is meant to be, it will be. Even if things do not work out that is okay too, I am only 21 after all. “There is not such thing as a rejection, only a redirection” — applies to many things in life. The butterfly effect is crazy too, one decision/event can lead to the opening up of an infinite number of other decisions to be made/ outcomes. Same goes with how I am regulating my anxiety around my grandma, I want to live in the moment, cherish our relationship now and not pollute its future potential with my unproductive anxiety and compulsive thinking. Because really, what is the point of that?
  3. With this internship, instead of seeing uncertainty as something that is anxiety inducing, I want to reframe this and instead see it as something exciting. Most things in life are uncertain, you never exactly know what is coming next. If I really knew everything that will happen in my life, how boring, unexciting and predictable would life be? I am excited to be working with this design thinking consultancy firm which strives to humanise businesses. I am excited to learn about their innovative solutions, work with different clients, and I am especially excited to meet the team!
  4. As for moving houses, I just have to deal with that when the time comes. Moving might be stressful and I am not getting the summer I anticipated but that is okay. This is a worthwhile trade off that I have to make to do this internship. I’d have my friends and my boyfriend to help me on this move, I am sure everything will be sorted. πŸ™‚

Writing this blogpost really helped me regulate my anxiety, so thank you. I feel so thankful to this platform. I am mostly writing for myself but I feel much calmer now. Writing all my thoughts down really help me rationalise my compulsive thoughts, and put things into perspective. One thing that I learn recently that I think is extremely powerful is metacognition — our ability to think about our thoughts, our thought processes and feelings. How cool is that??? This means we all have the ability to regulate our own emotions πŸ™‚

Reminder for myself: cherish the moment, live in the present, and stop polluting the future with my anxiety! All of our futures are filled with so much positive potential, so why pollute that space with our anxieties?

With love,
Sing

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