To be honest, the past few months have been challenging for me. Outside circumstances keep popping up and throwing me off and recently, something happened with family that caused me to question everything, and spiraled me into my old habits of anxiety and depression. I caught myself gripped in fear with worst-case scenarios and immobile with pessimism that things will never change or get better. I was walking around completely STUCK in my own misery.
And then I remembered a phrase that one of my teachers, Genevieve Yellin, offers in her work: “I control my inner peace.”
I’d been living from a place of powerlessness, allowing everything within and around me to dictate how I feel. I felt like a leaf blowing in the wind, being knocked every which way without any say in where I go. Then I began repeating this mantra over and over, suddenly liberated at the idea that, no matter how much it feels like outside circumstances are controlling me, I am the one who has the power to control MY inner peace.
With anxiety (and especially panic), it can feel as if our bodies and minds have been hijacked and we have zero control over our racing heart, dizzy eyes, fading breath, and intrusive thoughts. Often, it can seem as if we are victim to our anxiety, so we fear when it will come back and adjust our lives accordingly. We become smaller and smaller as fear grows bigger and bigger.
Yet the most powerful piece of information I learned in recovery from panic attacks is that panic does not have control over me, no matter how convincing it is. I have the ability to take the power back into my own hands and I don’t have to let fear rule. It’s a choice (and not an easy one) to stand up and declare our own strength.
And the same can be applied to any part of life. Outside circumstances like difficult relationships, work issues, illness, and injury can knock us down swiftly and brutally. But we always have the choice of how we respond.
Just the other day, I was caught in depressive thinking. I had no motivation to do anything. My thoughts swirled with, “I’m never going to be happy and things will never get better. I’ll just have to resign myself to this misery.”
When we’re feeling down (or anxious) and our thoughts are running wild, it is SO easy to get dragged down into it. It’s so EASY to surrender to the negativity or the fear. And it might feel as if we truly CAN’T choose another way because the sensations are that powerful.
But we don’t have to stay there, no matter how much we want to or feel like we have to. We have the power to choose something else. We have the power to control our inner peace.
So it hit me, as I laid there wallowing, that there is no reason why I can’t choose happiness and gratitude today instead. Because I have that choice. It’s just up to me to make it.
I got out of bed. I watched my thoughts. I chose NOT to indulge them and I chose to replace them with positive, loving, helpful thoughts. I chose to fill myself up with healthy food. I went to a yoga class.
I control my inner peace.
When you feel the rush of panic that threatens to throw you over the edge: I control my inner peace.
When your negative thoughts tell you that you’re doomed to stay in misery: I control my inner peace.
When other people bombard you with their own negativity: I control my inner peace.
It isn’t easy. It’s actually really, really hard. It goes against everything our bodies and minds are telling us to choose something different. And we may have to choose it over and over again every single minute. But we have that power.
Today, you control your inner peace. How beautiful is that?