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Dreamers With Anxiety: Don’t Look at the Monsters That Stare You Down

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Dreams aren’t dreams without nightmares.

We have dreams; we all do. But I know no one who has accomplished their dream without struggle. Nightmares? Name someone who has bypassed their existence. The elements those terrors are made of is what drives our retreat. Hurtful words others say are the monsters that chase us. Self-doubt (whether that be outwardly, or inwardly instilled) is the indecipherable face on each of those threatening creatures. Fear is the weapon each demon carries. And each nightmare where you run but don’t seem to go anywhere is controlled by a tar pit of anxiety.

Those of us who experience anxiety on a daily — correction: constant — basis understand the unspeakable power it has over each and every dream — big, or small — we dare set fire to. Perhaps that is why some of us end our chases so quickly. There’s a constant fear of screwing that dream up; of having attention called to ourselves; of having others think us to be odd, or overly ambitious, or selfish or anything else we fear they may think; of never making it; of defeat; of any lie anxiety convinces us of.

Those lies are many.

And, when believed, the lies that haunt us outnumber the dreams we once held tight.

People who have anxiety understand the well-meaning “wisdom” others unsolicitedly give us.

“I’m stressed, too.”

“You’ve just gotta push through.”

“Get a job.”

“Join a group.”

“Pray more.”

“Get out more.”

“If you had more faith, I’ll bet you’d see a difference.”

Everyone’s advice has merit; at some point in these advice-givers’ lives, the words they are imparting on us benefitted them, or someone else. However, because that advice was applicable in their (or someone else’s) life doesn’t mean it’s necessarily applicable to ours.

People with anxiety, raise your hands (if you feel alone, mine is held high). We know how hurtful those words — those monsters — are to us. Words have great — perhaps the greatest — impact. And often, those words lead to self-doubt, giving each of those cruel beasts a face for us to stare at. “These dreams aren’t worth pursuing anymore,” we think. “If they were, it would be easy; I wouldn’t doubt myself.”

We begin to fear our dreams, and as result, the monsters raise their weapons. We shrink back. “What was I thinking? Look at all I would have to do! It’s terrifying; the smallest step is impossible.”

When we can’t run from these monsters anymore, we’ve hit the dreaded tar pit. Anxiety has won. It seems as though we can only sink deeper. We’re stuck. Lost. Paralyzed. Hopeless.

Facing a day? Tiresome.

Getting out? Impossible.

Socializing? Unthinkable.

We are trapped in a nightmare.

…But we can wake up. Just as nightmares corrupt our dreams, our dreams can overpower our nightmares.

Laugh. Please; laugh at this concept.

Then, think. You’ve had dreams, for a human is not a human without a dream. What dreams are your nightmares suppressing? What steps is your anxiety preventing? What passion is your fear consuming?

Only you know how to reach your dreams, and it is your decision whether or not those dreams are worth seeking after.

Yes; anxiety is a powerful, nightmarish hell that only those who have it know exists, but no amount of anxiety can withstand the power of your wildest dreams.

So, if you want to frighten the very nightmares that frighten you, rediscover the dreams you once held so close. No matter how much your anxiety haunts you, never let those go.

Don’t look at the faces your monsters stare you down with.

Don’t listen to their taunts and their lies.

Be bold toward the challenges they throw at you.

Because the dreams we hold inside of us are far more powerful than any nightmare could ever be.

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Thinkstock photo via lupashchenkoiryna

Originally published: February 27, 2017
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