Dear Mesmerizing Meg: How can I cope with anxiety during a conflict? During any conflict I have an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, especially when arguing with my partner. He is able to go about his life, laugh and enjoy stuff (even when he’s in the wrong) but I’m stuck in a dark place, not knowing what to do with myself, with my thoughts running around, shortness of breath and being alert. I know I depend heavily on the emotional wellbeing of those close to me and I can’t seem to function at times of a conflict or when there is an unhealed wound that the other side chooses to dismiss. Any tips?
Kind Querent: It sounds like you have a fear of conflict. Perhaps you’re afraid that disagreeing with someone equals the death of your relationship. In some cases, this is true, but usually over major things, like whether you want to have kids or which city you want to live in. And even then, it’s not the conflict itself that’s ending the relationship, but rather the inability to have similar priorities.
In your case, there’s an episode of Friends I’d like you to watch. It’s called “The One With the Kips.” (And no, I have no idea what the kips are.) In it, Chandler and Monica argue over something, which leads Chandler to assume their relationship is over. Monica then realizes why none of his previous relationships have lasted, and she lets him know that it’s not the end of the world to disagree.
It might also help you to ask your partner this question: “If we’re disagreeing or arguing over something, does it mean our relationship is in jeopardy?” Just see what he says. He sounds like the kind of guy who’s very much “with it” and grounded, so he might be able to offer you some perspective.
If you’re anxious in other ways as well, you might want to seek professional help. Anxiety bites.
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I am 27 years old and I get anxiety about going to the store by myself which keeps me from stocking up on food. I always have to have someone come with me. I don’t know why. How can I over come this? I don’t know why I’m scared. I just feel my ears plug and the sides of my face get warm and I just feel everyone is judging me. I know they aren’t and even if some are, who cares? But at the moment I just get so nervous. How do I overcome this?
Kind Querent: I’d recommend that you see a psychiatrist. I can’t tell if you’re paranoid, extremely self-conscious, or agoraphobic, but whatever it is, you need help. Please get help now, before you start avoiding other places. Trust me, you don’t want this to escalate to all aspects of leaving home.
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: How can I become self-reliant and self-motivated? I’m living in a city without friends for the first time ever, and I’m single. I’ve only been in my job for a few months, and I live with strangers who don’t really have any similar interests, so I’m struggling to stay motivated. I guess without realizing I’ve always needed the belief and motivation from those around me to get me to do things, but now I’m on my own I’m really struggling. I have a full-time job but to succeed in my dreams (filmmaking/creative goals) I need to be working on side projects outside of work, but when I get home I have no motivation.
On the weekends, because I don’t have friends texting me to make plans, I struggle to get out of bed early or be productive. At uni I was always pushed to do more and I had that drive because I was around creative people, but I don’t really believe in myself, I’ve found. I didn’t know I was this kind of person until recently. There’s been a lot going on and I’m new to the working world having only graduated last year, but I need to find a way to rely on myself completely and just commit to my goals. I’m starting to get depressed and I need to change that.
Kind Querent: Whoa. You’re being way too hard on yourself. Think of all you’ve accomplished so far! Living on your own (and yes, living with roommates counts), working full-time, and doing it all in a new city, no less! There’s no reason for you to feel bad about your efforts. From my perspective you seem quite successful, and I’m impressed!
You can’t keep forcing yourself to pursue your filmmaking passion while adjusting to your new full-time job, so I’d recommend that you spend the next six months just getting used to your new routine and letting yourself do whatever with your free time. (My recommendations would be to find some local friends and/or get involved with fun activities, but with no pressure to pursue your passions at this point.) You’re trying too hard to do it all right now, but you don’t have to. Working full-time in and of itself is huge! To many people, that is success. You should embrace that success without expecting yourself to become super-successful by tomorrow. You’re doing great! Keep it up!