Man breathes deeply checks in with feelings

Affirmation From a Therapist: Your Life Matters

By LifeStance Health provider and award-winning therapist Carl Nassar, Ph.D., LPC, CIIPTS

Your life matters.

Your life matters a great deal. You profoundly impact (and interact with) the world. I know it might not always seem that way. So, I’d like to help you understand how you’ve come to forget your importance. And, in one quick blog post, I want to help you remember.

You’re this wonderful person. I know, it doesn’t always feel that way. But bear with me (because you are wonderful):

You, this wonderful person, get around other people. And deep down you want them to know you. You want them to see your heart and your tenderness. You want to be seen in your vulnerability and in all of who you are. And you long to be loved.

But when you’re around other people, you – like most of the rest of us – get scared. Your anxiety kicks in. And instead of sharing your heart, your anxiety tells you to be careful.

One day it gets you to hide behind a mask of humor; on another, it encourages you to just retreat within yourself. But whether it’s compliance or avoidance, anxiety finds a way to hide you away.

Hiding away becomes contagious. Good golly, your anxiety gets you to do that with yourself as well. When you’re on your own, a part of you wants to slow down and choose to act in a way that is congruent with your best self. Decide what taking care of yourself looks like; decide what rejuvenation would look like, and do that.

But, instead, that gosh-darn anxiety kicks. And it scares you again, telling you if you slow down, you’ll get in touch with your loneliness; or your sadness; or some other painful feeling; and it’ll all be too much and you won’t know what to do with it. So, alone, your anxiety gets you to quickly look for that one thing to escape behind. Your phone. Your work. Your bottle. Your video game. You know what that something is. And instead of rejuvenating, your anxiety engages you in escaping.

It’s no wonder you forgot how precious you are: Your anxiety has made it so hard to fully show up for your life, with others or with yourself, that you miss it. First, days go by. Then weeks pass. And suddenly it’s years hiding behind masks with others, escaping when you’re on you’re own.

Enough. Let’s change that. Right here. Right now.

First, I’ll tell you why I know you can. Because to change this you only need two things. Things every human is born with: breathe and feel.

If you can breathe and you can feel, and I know you can (or you wouldn’t be reading this!), then you can change everything. Let’s do it together, right now…

Breathe: Look for the gaps in life, those moments life gives you when there’s a pause. This is one of those moments. Right now, instead of hurrying into the next thing (or the next line), pause (right here); slow down your breath. Take a few deep breaths. There you go. And now…

Feel: Just let yourself get in touch with the anxiety you so often feel… how scared life can make you… just take a moment and really touch the scared and the anxious. Imagine yourself as a small child – so very deserving of compassion. Let yourself bring that compassion to you.

You could begin with, “It’s okay to be anxious, we all are.” You could go on to, “It’s okay to be anxious, my anxiety is only trying to protect me. Thank you, anxiety for being here, my old (albeit misguided) friend.” Now…

Feel again: Let’s together feel all that’s been lost to your anxiety, all the lost moments caused by being too scared to lean in with your heart. Just let yourself feel what’s been lost. The hugs with others that were never shared, and the calm within yourself that’s eluded you.

I know it sounds odd, but your natural self will begin to move organically toward living differently when you allow yourself to be in touch with these emotions again and again. You don’t have to do anything more to change. Just keep repeating the breathing and the feeling. And little by little — inch by inch but soon mile by mile — you’ll start to show up for your life. You’ll stay with it instead of having your anxiety take you from it, and you’ll realize just how much you matter when you’re really here for life.

P.S. This article is not intended for “single-use.” Read this article again and again, as often as you need to. It can be a real life-saver!