Don’t Judge, Just Listen

It hit me about a month ago when a friend of mine openly spoke about her struggle with the anxiety she was facing considering our current “corona” situation on social media.  If I may be honest here, it was sobering to hear another facing the same concerns I know I am dealing with, and have been dealing with.  Obviously, having another face it does not mean I enjoy knowing another is struggling, but rather the fact I appreciate the sharing of such feelings with others; that it is ok and I am not alone in this—that we are not alone in this.  It became clear to me that there is no way out of this state of mind unless feelings and emotions are shared, openly communicated.

For the most part, talking about anxiety and stress is not a popularly accepted topic of discussion in this country.  First of all, in my experiences you are shunned for even entertaining the idea.  “Entertaining” the idea?!  Funny huh?  That is how many will look at it—as if you are bringing this “un-necessary” idea of being stressed and anxious upon yourself.  My first reaction was to always get angry.  Then I thought about it and realized I only feed into their “mis-understanding,” rather than accept their “non-understanding” about the matter.

Anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”  Stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”  So for all of my open-minded-enough readers willing to make an effort to understand, I have to say this:  anxiety and stress are real.  I applaud my friend for being vulnerable enough to share her worries with the world in hopes of finding whatever solutions may lie out there.  But most importantly, I applaud her for being courageous enough to put herself out there, knowing there are many people feeling the same way.  I applaud her for allowing others that are not too keen on sharing these feelings know that they are not alone in this constant battle.

I always used to deny myself of the feelings of anxiety.  I denied it because it never made anyone comfortable enough for me to talk about it with.  I denied myself of the feeling because I felt too privileged to be feeling this way.  By privileged, I mean in the sense of having most, if not all, of life’s basic necessities fulfilled:  roof over my head, access to education, food to eat – you get it the gist.  But then I realized, “wait a second,” just who said I can NOT and am NOT allowed to feel this way?  Just who has so much sway over me enough to make me un-acknowledge the fact that this is how I feel?  Who?  I came to the realization it has always been me.  It has always been me who has had the power to accept myself enough to feel this way.  Anxiety, for me, did not start with this “corona” reality we are now living in.  Oh no!  I wish!  It has been part of my adult life for as long as I have known myself to begin paying attention to my feelings and my mind-state.  It has always been something that comes and goes as the tides of life brings the waves of growing pains along, as they call it.

I have said it before.  Life is hard.  It was never meant to be easy.  It was never meant to be fair.  It was never meant to make sense.  You don’t always get what you think or feel you deserve.  The key though, is in realizing that “deserving” is not the way to look at life when sh*# is hard and painful or when situations are not to your liking.  Instead, the key is looking at what has been given to you as a less-than-pleasing-of-a-living or rather “situation,” if you will, as a blessing to have been chosen to being able to handle it.  Too many words?  What I mean in short is what I believe to be true in my opinion is that regardless of whatever religious denomination you belong to, the universe is divine and beyond our capacity to understand in its choosing of the strongest of us humans to go through the hardest of hardships for the sake of the human existence’s balance.

You might be inclined to think that anxiety or stress should not even be considered when talking about hardships in life.  But that is where I’d like to argue that you are wrong.  Yes, children are born into war, people are born with disabilities, and we have all heard of heart-wrenching life challenges and situations some people have been thrown into.  But I plead with you to always, always remember that no situation is above another.  We are dealt different cards and as such, as outsiders of the various scenarios people may be facing, we need to find the sensibility within ourselves to be sensitive enough to each person’s case of challenges, anxiety being one of these.  How about you choose to lend a shoulder, listen and not judge?  You will find you just might be relieving someone of internal pains you cannot begin to imagine.

“Those who judge will never understand, and those who understand will never judge.” Anonymous