Do you worry a lot – That’s a strange
question, isn’t it?
What’s even stranger is that there are only
two letters difference between words “Worrier”
What’s that? You think that I’m completely
off my rocker? That I’m as nutty as fruitcake
Well maybe, but listen to this…
While suffering from a full-blown anxiety, I
remember having two choices: fighting this thing
or giving up.
To tell the truth, neither choice seemed
The path I was on was dismal and barren. Every
day I just waited to see if today was the day I’d
get carted off to the loony bin. I was deeply
convinced that I was crazy, and all the things I
used to wait and look forward to now seemed like
All my strength was consumed by sheer survival.
What possible strength did I have left to fight
this unbeatable enemy?
I remember one time I was riding my bike with
headphones on. The summer stars were shining above
but I was feeling numb.
Pearl Jam’s “Alive” came on, and I cranked it up.
The words resonated with me as the lead singer
screamed “I’m still alive” with such anger and
determination, as if he had lived the same
desperation as I had and was amazed being still
here in blood and flesh.
He had somehow clung on for his dear life by his
fingernails, just like I was doing. Needless to
say, the song haunted me.
I was alive.
Four years of anxiety and panic had left me
worn out and beaten down.
I didn’t see any way to win this battle.
One night that summer of 2001, flipping through
the channels, I stopped on the channel that was
showing movie called “Chariots of Fire.”
It’s a movie about track and field athletes
competing for the opportunity to represent Great
Britain in the 1924 Olympics.
An athlete, Harold Abrahamson, competes for a
spot on the team against a Scot. In several trial
heats, the Scottish runner wins.
Abrahamson complained to his girlfriend that if
he can’t win, he won’t run.
“If you won’t run…you can’t win,” she answers.
If I was going to win back my life, I had to run.
I HAD to.
Not away from my fear, but toward it. Right
into its core.
My days were spent reading all I could,
educating myself about anxiety disorder and
I began a file of quotations that rang true
for me, words that inspired me. When I was
feeling particularly down, I would read and
reread these quotations in the hope that they’d
sink in one day.
All my friends were starting their careers, and
I had nothing – not even the small level of
comfort I’d build in college.
There, as miserable as I was, I was still
working toward a goal: beat my biggest foe …my
My social life was minimal, but I had a hard
time saying “No” to people, so sometimes I would
get cornered into going to a party.
My entire goal was to survive these occasions
with my panic going unnoticed.
The only place I felt comfortable was on the
There, I was bold and aggressive.
In the July after graduation, I was on a team
with Rich Kingston, the president of a national
telecommunication company, and I had done very
well in the day’s game – our team finishing
undefeated. I was physically exhausted thus
incapable of producing a panic attack when Rich
came up to me and offered me a sales job.
He told me to call the company’s director of
sales for an interview, “just as a formality.”
He had assumed that my confidence on the court
would translate to success in the workplace.
“Little did he know,” I thought, but accepted
the phone number and thanked him.
At home I entertained the notion, arguing back
and forth with myself about whether or not I could
ever handle a job in sales.
I told my old friend about this and his answer
was simple: “Sales? You need to be articulate and
aggressive, a real ‘people person.’ I don’t think
that’s a good idea for you.”
Sometimes I do my best when I’m challenged like
this. When people tell me I can’t, it gives me the
motivation to show that I can.
Besides, I was already at rock bottom. How
could things get worse?
I decided that self-esteem was my main problem.
If I could just raise my self-esteem, I
wouldn’t panic. The job offer gave me something to
shoot for – I knew I wasn’t ready for it yet, but
it gave me the impetus to switch tactics and get
myself into the fight.
Maybe the problem was that I had been hoping to
get better at once, to get “fixed” just as
suddenly as the panic came.
But if you want to lose 30 pounds, you don’t
lose it overnight.
You work, you plan for it, and get it done a
little at a time.
This is when I started my “PANIC PLAN”
In addition to studying my main foe anxiety, I
also began studying the opposite. I studied
successful people, analyzing their lives and
thoughts, reading their stories, and listening to
Their fields of success weren’t important to
me – whether in sports, the military, acting, or
writing – if they had something to teach me, I
wanted to learn.
I found it best to use the same method that
people use in the fruit aisle at a grocery store:
Instead of buying whole bushels of apples, I
examined them all and selected just the ones from
each barrel that I wanted.
You don’t have to agree with everything
everyone says to glean some helpful
information. Just take what works for you and
toss everything else aside.
Monitoring my self-talk was the next big task
Most of my life, I had bombarded myself with
messages about how stupid I was, how awkward and
Add that to the messages I sent myself once the
panic kicked in: “You’re crazy. You’re worthless.
You’re an embarrassment. You’re a failure. You’re
weak, screwed up, and you’re never going to live a
Self-talk like this is so pervasive that it
becomes ingrained, automatic.
Now I was going to have to become aware of each
time I sent myself a negative message like this
and replace it with a positive one.
On top of it, I had to forcibly change my
perception of what other people thought of me.
On some level I knew my negative thoughts were
irrational, or at least overblown. And I knew that
these thoughts were destructive to my self-esteem.
But I’m a stubborn person, and changing my own
belief system wasn’t going to be easy.
I even began writing down these thoughts so I
could dissect them and rearrange them in my favor
in journal entries.
“I’ll never be good enough” became “I’m a good
person and I’m working hard every day.”
“People will think I’m crazy” became “I have
lots of friends and family who love me and always
I learned to pit my thoughts against a reality
test: What proof was there that people thought
badly of me? NONE!
So those thoughts didn’t deserve to stick
When I played a basketball game, I played to
compete as hard as I could and win to. To overcome
panic, first I had to change my mindset.
I wasn’t going to “win” the whole game all at
once. I had to learn that just playing – just
getting into that ring – was winning.
The cause of our anxiety and panic is the way
Our thoughts are what determine our misery and
We think ourselves into anxiety and we can
think ourselves out of it.
Do you want to change your life,
CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
Now don’t give up hope when you read this,
because I know how impossible it may seem to you
at this moment to do so.Dont despair because there is always a brighter day.