Despite what I’ve said in many a past job interview I deal badly with stress. It’s one of the things that I handle with no finesse.
Yet, last week I agreed to unreasonable amounts of work, which climaxed into a sleepless, frantic weekend. Then yesterday as the pressure released, I had a minor anxiety attack. I’m not sure if that’s the correct medical term for what I experienced, but basically my heart started beating so fast that I panicked and had to lie down on my couch and do some deep breathing exercises.
I’m not sharing this so that you will feel pity, or even compassion for me. I feel lucky to make a living doing work that I enjoy, no that I love. My break-down does not even really have to do with my workload, rather it was a manifestation of feeling groundless. That is why I’m sharing this. Because I think that feeling groundless is what comes before feeling weak.
We don’t always know what makes us feel groundless.
It was only a recent discovery that stress literally ‘stresses me out’. It makes me experience a sensation of ‘loosing it’, of not knowing where to focus my energy, a sort of disorientation from who I am. With this knowledge, I now know that the remedy is to ‘find ground’ metaphorically speaking. My missing a deadline won’t result in the Armageddon.
Loneliness, to use another example, isn’t such a big deal for me. I have a high solitude threshold, and even though I enjoy being around people, my favourite moments are when I can be in my own thoughts. Processing life is in a sense more enjoyable to me than ‘living’ life. But for someone else loneliness, or solitude (and they may differ) can make them feel groundless, whilst on the other hand they (perhaps logically) might get a kick from having way too much on their plate.
Anyway point is, it’s worth identifying what makes us feel groundless so that we can cope better when those moments of weakness hit us.
For the rest of this week, I am prioritising my social life because good company heals many things, such as stress, or loneliness.
The reason I titled this post the way I did is to suggest that rather than the ‘turn your weakness into a strength’ philosophy we often (try to) adopt, I find more comfort in just accepting that – okay, this is something I don’t deal with very well but I’ll try to work around it. I find this more effective than say, pretending that stress has made me a good multi-tasker. I’m a crap multi-tasker, but I have many passions so I try to find a balance.
What do you think – is it better to turn a weakness into a strength or accept and deal with it as a weakness?
Shout-outs to The first ladies xmas fayre, I blogged about this on tumblr, I will be speaking about successfully managing an online brand. That’s if the organisers don’t decide to cancel after reading this post, which might have invalidated my credibility ;).
Innovate Her – if you are a female entrepreneur based in East London then you really should know about this (free)business advice service, they are a helpful team.
Xmas is (sigh) round the corner. Why not support an Afropolitan brand and get your cards with a Ghanaian twist from Kente Cards this year.
photo credit: Stefanie Neves
annie q. syed says
i am very happy that you recognize the building up of this, the need to breathe, and instead of making this a post about “how to avoid it” or many other posts like it, it just is: EXHALE.
this line really resonated with me: “I have a high solitude threshold.”
i think that just comes with the creative life, although I love people and being social too.
i have other weakensses that just ARE—best for email or skype.
connect with you soon.
Ha! Same here!
Look fwd to our next skype session
I don’t know, basically, I’ve never posted on this site before. I was just watching “My Fair Lady”. You know, the version starring Kiri Te Kanawa and Jeremy Irons.
And I think there is a line where he says something like it’s his ‘god’ that keeps her in place? Just after referring to her as a prisoner of the gutter?
And then convinces her to forgo her feminist principles and her culture maybe, for some kind of illusion.
Accept it he encourages because he teaches her – how lovely it will be… I am not versed on this play yet. But it looks to be like she is slightly under pressure.
It just seemed to me like you might be contemplating looking back, somehow. I think I prefer the feminist type, nice and confident!
Anyways, this is one of the Longest playing musicals in Theater. It has been called – “The perfect musical.” How much has changed? I think it was written by British males to pass down to their sons. Not trying to takeaway anything from its brilliance! It’s an interesting play and ends on an interesting note. I think this play says something about how far we’ve come.
Not really understanding the comment…
*sidebar* glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand that comment….erm….*/sidebar*
Yet again, I so needed to hear this. Feeling groundless is basically spot on for me. When I’m exhausted and stressed I find I can’t place my anxiety or my worry, I’m a coper, I know I’ll get through. Others trust I’ll get through and I generally always do.
But when I come across the worst points, I feel totally groundless. Not a thing is real, nothing is possible, everything is too much and I don’t know why. Then it passes.
I’ve had two anxiety attacks in my life and they felt pretty much as you’ve described. Strength is overrated. Sometimes weakness is what teaches us the lessons.
Thanks for sharing, I’m off to go update my blog!
Thanks for your comment, I think you are entirely right that weakness is what teaches us the lessons. Unless we can bear to be with ourselves in our weakest moments then we will always feel fearful of them.
Sorry about my rant earlier. I was just saying I feel like some of the groundlessness also come from feeling brainwashed. That’s when the lessons we are thought about whom we are tend to be misrepresentative. For example, does woman come from man’s rib? or does man come from woman’s rib?
That woman, Kiri, from My Fair Lady, I was thinking must have experienced a great deal of groundlessness, by taking on that role and being that character. I think this was a big part of what she was trying to bring to light, this concept of groundlessness. Where it comes from and she was able to identify it and deal with it in her way.
Just this concept of groundlessness suggests the very foundation that supports who we are seems to dissolve when put to the test. And who we think we are largely based on our education. I mean, she felt groundless after he told her those wicked things, wasn’t it? She was more like a prisoner of war, than anything else. Anyways you got me thinking about things. Thanks!
Thanks for coming back to explain, appreciate it. I feel I need to watch the clip in its fullness!
Anxiety hits me probably about five times a year same symptoms as MsAfropolitan including dizziness and Im in my mid 30’s.Stress pays a significant role ,but what we put in our body can cause the rapid heart beat etc in other words believe it or not indgestion also has same symptoms.We as african american women have to pay attention to these signs.Hope you feel better!I understand!www.survivingsinglelifetoday.blogspot.com
Thank you for visiting and the words of advice! Indeed the food we eat can either decrease or increase our stress levels. Sometimes when I feel stressed, if I catch it before it catches me that is, I like to take a pause and eat something nutritious and healthy – eating well has a very calming effect.
Phew, you’re not super woman after all :)Hmmm I’m trying to decide how I feel about weaknesses. First of all , I think it’s always best to be aware of them; even if it’s just to accept them. I also think we should always work on or with them. For me the difference is in whether it affects anybody else or just yourself.
So for example, one of my weaknesses is that I have developed a fear of public speaking; I literally forget to breathe! I don’t know if that’s ever going to change but I know preparation and being comfortable with what I’m speaking about helps with this nervousness a lot, so it’s something I always do. Another weakness I have is expecting too much of people, then being constantly disappointed by them. With this one, I feel like I need to work on it as it hurts and affects people other than just me. I’m not saying it’s easy, and who knows if I’ll ever be completely ‘cured’ but it’s a weakness that I feel I need to change rather than just accepting it.
Just my two cents 😀 Thanks again for provoking my thoughts 🙂 I hope you’re well and have a relaxing Christmas break ahead to look forward to!
Thanks for this article. You told it as it is – so much that I read to the end. Seriously though I really enjoyed reading as it so encompassed my own thoughts, feelings social considerations regarding stress, overwork, groundlessness etc and having a high threshold for solitude myself – it’s easy for me to relate to your thoughts on this. I chose to ‘lay low for a while’ as I felt myself grinding myself down (I’m a spoken word artist and writer). It meant it was tough for me to ‘get back into the game’ regarding coming back out of my shell (and I’m still experiencing weakness) luckily or blessedly I can see that I have actually gained from a near breakdown – the strength it takes to see it, choose to be in that phase totally and move through it. It’s still hard in terms of ability (sometimes just too challenging), but I’m acknowledging my weaknesses and articles like this, make it easier. Being honest instead of doing what we ‘should’ be doing, is more real and accepting which may connect with the masses instead of isolating. Honesty the best policy? I’d rather say ‘tell the truth first’ and let’s go from there!! Thank you!
hmm … not sure if this is really relevant but .. my weaknesses are my little secrets … and the moment I reveal a weakness I make sure I over come it. Simply because I don’t trust people not to use it against me lol
i’ll give an example “Closure.”
Once upon a time if I didn’t get closure I go CRAZY!! I didn’t understand why and I didn’t bother searching why I had a problem with not getting closure until I crossed the line with my craziness.
I searched and I found out why it got to me so much … now the last crazy outburst I had, I shared with a friend (then). I foolishly exposed a weakness and as I feared this “friend” tried to use it against me.
However being the ‘self improving’ person that I am, it was already too late as I had already found the source of this weakness and I had over come it. HA-HA! Now it doesn’t bother me so much when I don’t get closure … I discard it and get on with my life.
I guess my point here is self improvement …
We will always find out weaknesses we didn’t know we had, or weaknesses we develop due to things we experience. Finding the source of this new manifested weakness is what could help us over come this weakness and move on to over coming the present and future ones we encounter. … I may just have repeated what you just said LOL ooops!
When I am stressed I just shut down completely! Turn off the lights and sit in the dark while I focus my thoughts on just one thing. Most of my stress comes from information overload, I get so confused when this happens that I even cry LOL In fact my plan from Monday is to do NOTHING for a week! Its me, myself and I week. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted! I need me back 100%
Sister, you experienced an anxiety attack. To which I can relate very personally. Won’t go into detail here, but, feel free to connect with me if you desire to know more re: my personal experiences.
Anyway, I am glad you read the signals much earlier than I did.
We all need to say, STOP, before it eats us alive emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
I can also relate to having a high solitude threshold. Perhaps this is why I am not married. LOL!
I dig this post:
The creative mind need “space” to reflect and this can result in a lot of time spend on his own.
Are you on the Underground Railroad Network? If not, I can send you a personnal invitation….you may find like-minded people to discuss, exchange etc….
The Underground Railroad is a network for black British (African/diaspora) artists to share, profile-raise and collectively develop. To find out the background, what to expect and how to use the space read on…
Let me know