My successes in life never seemed to outshine my failures. No matter what progress I made in my personal or professional life, I never felt that I held any actual value. I would continually find myself in the mindset that disaster was around the next corner. Someone could always replace me, and my absence from the job would hardly be noticed. If I asked for the raise; I would be fired. If I asked for the promotion; I would be laughed at.
My qualifications, experience, dedication and loyalty were only noticed by me. At least that is what I constantly told myself. Even with that mindset, the promotions still came, and occasionally they were accompanied by more money. Looking back, the only person that didn’t believe in my potential was me. It’s a struggle I still face almost daily.
My depression and anxiety just wouldn’t let me enjoy anything, no success, no accolade, nothing was sufficient to overcome the dark, joyless existence inside of me. In my mind it was the same thing, “you don’t deserve that.” or “someone else deserved the credit for that,” and even “they will find out you’re really worthless and you’ll wind up jobless and destitute.”
These irrational fears only magnified once I got married and started a family. Now not only would I end up under a bridge but so would those who depended on me as the main breadwinner. I remembered growing up with almost nothing, living in a literal shack and panicked at the thoughts of my children going through the same fate. That history and experience of being dirt poor made the fear that much more real. Remembering the shame during my school years that turned me into the introvert, shy, quiet guy that never took a chance on anything, girls, parties, sports, nothing.
As time has passed and I have gained a better understanding of where these fears come from, I have managed to confront and most of the time overcome them. I have lived more in the last five years than I did in the previous thirty-five. More family outings, more social events, more risks both in career and private life.
It is still a struggle, but one that I have learned to combat. Anxiety about these situations doesn’t control me like it did. Sure it still tries, but I now have tools in my toolbox to be successful in the fight. My career has flourished, and my overall happiness has exploded. I am no longer afraid to go after what I want.
Seek help- This is the most important step to overcoming depression and anxiety in any part of your life. Once you recognize that it may be something inside you holding you back or damaging relationships, the biggest step is to seek help. Research what you’re feeling, read articles and listen to experts. Then find a solid professional that can help you overcome these destructive forces. Talk to them and find the best course of action for yourself. Each one of these battles is personal, and triggered by different life experiences, none of our journeys are identical. Our treatments will also be different. If you continue to ignore the problem and try to fight on your own, the longer you will hold yourself and those around you from real joy.
Truthfully examine your past- None of us are fortune tellers, we cannot know ahead of time the outcome of each of our decisions. Anxiety makes us believe that we can, and it always tells us that it will be a disaster. What we can do however is to truthfully look back on our lives and past decisions and see where many, if not most of them worked out. We can see the successes for what they were not for what our mind tells us they were. When you can honestly see your life and the good in it, you will better understand the potential you have in the future.
Believe what others say- Anxiety has a way of shutting out the good people say about you. We almost either never pay attention to it or simply don’t believe it. Here is what I did, while I struggled to accept any praise or even believe it of myself, I began to recognize that the person giving it believed it. Taking their words as sincere allowed me to understand that what mattered in advancement and growth was what others truly believed. I stopped letting anxiety tell me what I needed to do next and start letting my work and others opinions of it lead me to my next decision.
While I do still make the occasional misstep and at times hesitate to make a move, I no longer sit frozen waiting on or expecting destruction. Your career, like mine, is only limited by you.
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