Welcome to Practice Makes Presence!
A Journey filled with candor and compassion
Podcast and Blog of Matt Sandoval
For me, Anxiety is like an annoying semi-acquaintance who knows exactly when it would bother you most to call and how to make that conversation as awkward as possible. Ring, Ring, Ring! Ugh.....
At first, I would mute the calls but Anxiety knew that I was there trying to avoid the calls. The calls would come in one after another, sometimes at odd and inconvenient time. First, I silenced the calls, then I put the phone on permanent vibrate, later I learned to turn off the phone. However, as soon as I turned the phone back on, a new call come in. Avoiding the calls only made more of them.
One day I answered the call and said "Hello" and heard only breathing on the the other side of the line. "That's creepy," I said as I hung up.
The next day I left the phone on and waited for the call. When it came I asked it to speak and tell me why it was calling. After a long pause anxiety said, "You called me." This made me angry and I responded by saying, "There is no way I called you, stop calling me" and I hung up.
A couple of days went by without calls. During this time I couldn't stop thinking about how Anxiety had thought that I called them first. It was time for a plan. Anxiety liked to call as much as I hated to hear or even see the phone. I decided to be proactive and call first with a list of questions that I hoped would close the matter. My questions and the answers were:
'Who are you?" Answer: I am your conditioning. Your thoughts have made a comfortable place for me to live. Remember how you decided that thinking was the only way to solve and avoid pain in your life?
"Why do you keep calling ?" I miss you if it has been too long, I grow weaker without reminding you of the pain that you ignore. Remember how you learned to stay level because it wasn't long before trouble returned?
"Why are you calling?" Because you keep ignoring me, we are connected and we need each other to survive. Remember what it's like to feel like you aren't going to make it?
"Why do you call so often and so randomly?" We have to keep up our guard, the world is hostile and other people are unstable and some of them want to hurt you. You need to be reminded that it is just us against them. Remember how many people have let you down?
I didn't sleep that night. Neither did Anxiety. All of my life I had felt something troublesome was always around the corner. It didn't help that anxiety told me that what I am afraid of most is me and my painful memories. The next day and the days after I called first. I decided to use my phone not to avoid, but to listen to my conditioning, to feel its hidden pain, and then speak back words of acceptance, respect, and love.
At first, these calls were very difficult and anxiety often screamed at me in return, only to crank call me later. As weeks turned into months, I learned to look forward to collecting my feelings and thoughts before the calls. My new experience taught me that how I think determines what I feel and how I behave. At its most destructive, this pattern had made me equally isolated and lonely. I chose to accept those feelings as being real and true and that living my life to avoid the calls from my conditioning only made them stronger.
These days I initiate the calls most of the time and fill the dialogue with commitments to gratitude and loving awareness - especially on the days when circumstances tell me I shouldn't feel those things. I even call some trusted friends who understand and now I listen when they call, too. Anxiety still calls sometimes but when it does, I greet it with love, respect, and understanding. With practice, it's possible create an environment for your life that turns down troubling noise of fear. We need only self-love and care supported by our allies.