How anxiety was my greatest weakness and now my greatest strength

According to the famous mythologist Joseph Campbell, the greatest weakness, problem or challenge of the hero is what will eventually become his greatest strength. Campbell points out that stories across cultures and time (even many modern movies and novels adhere to this concept of "hero's journey") follow this theme.

Like a road map for self-improvement, the heroine's journey includes different stages in which the protagonist struggles with awareness of what her problem is, gains greater awareness along her path, at some point she faces a reluctance to change, overcome this reticence through their own self-determination and with the help of mentors and allies, commits to change, experiences improvements and setbacks in their attempts at change, and finally learns to master their problem and, in the end , becomes a stronger person for it.

And like any great story, the hero's journey can be applied to our own battles. Personally, my lifelong struggle has been anxiety, it has been my greatest weakness, yes, but it has also helped me find my greatest strength.

In my first stage on this trip, I experienced a limited awareness that anxiety was, in fact, a mental condition for which there were answers. In fact, I wasn't even aware of how frequent anxiety was. In my mind, I was alone and separated from others that I considered "normal." I was also scared to admit to others that I faced chronic and acute anxiety, for fear of being branded as weak.

Eventually, my awareness increased. I bought a self-help program and, through it, I realized that I had a very real condition that I could eventually heal, and beyond that, I also learned that I was not alone. Reading about the struggles of others with this often debilitating condition helped me out of my own emotional bubble and gave me hope that I had not experienced before.

However, like so many others on the road to self-discovery, I also reached a period of reluctance. No matter how many positive self-affirmations I repeated to myself, no matter how many times I read how I should not blame myself, fears and self-recrimination continued to explode, especially when I felt unchained, tired, or simply received discouraging news. I imagined that my special irrational fears were so ingrained in my brain that I could never completely shake them.

Fortunately, I persevered through this reluctance by immersing myself in my creative process while writing my first novel "The Grace of the Crows." Writing became a cathartic exercise in which I could turn off the "what if" part of my brain. How wonderful it was to learn to channel those negative fears into a productive act of work. In addition, while writing about a protagonist who overcame anxiety, I also believed slowly but surely I could do it too.

In addition, I promised to change – and challenged myself like never before – by joining Toastmasters, a nonprofit group that helps people hone their public speaking skills. Although my anxiety had subsided, I still harbored a deep fear of speaking in front of groups – or even the idea of ​​being a guest for possible radio, television or podcast interviews. I realized that if I wanted to promote my book about a woman who overcomes anxiety, it would be better if I learned to walk myself. And, in fact, over time I could say yes to the interviews thanks to my continued commitment to Toastmasters.

Of course, I continued to experience both improvements and setbacks along the way and, in reality, I still experience them. Yes, life would have been (and still would be!) Much easier without having to deal with anxiety. But…. I am also grateful for what you have given me. If I had not had to deal with this debilitating condition, I would never have written my first novel, I would never have gone to Toastmasters, and I would never have connected with so many anxious and wonderfully brave warriors. Not only am I stronger thanks to this trip, but my life is also much richer.

So, when looking at your own challenges, dear readers, please acknowledge your own hero's journey: How have you learned to recognize, learn from and master your biggest problems? And … how have you grown even stronger because of it?

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