The only thing certain in life is, seemingly, uncertainty. These days, especially, we don’t need to look very far to find uncertainty. We find it when we go to our local grocery store and see faces covered in masks, or when we turn on the news and hear that even our nation’s lead medical professionals don’t have the answers when it comes to stopping the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety, the conversation of uncertainty and the role it plays in our worry brain is a conversation in which I am well-versed. As a human being, who has struggled with anxiety myself, I know the powerful grip that the fear of things beyond our control can hold on our life. As I got married, became a mother to three children, and started a business of my own (all in the matter of four years) I found myself successfully managing it all on the outside, and yet often feeling overwhelmed and unsettled on the inside. How did I cope with this? Like so many of my clients, I grasped too tightly at the strings of control, micro- managed, and stayed in constant motion.
I don’t know exactly when, but one day it occurred me to that it wasn’t “normal,” for the site of a few dishes in the sink, or a messy playroom (hello, it’s a PLAYROOM) to send me over the emotional brink. When my anxiety took the wheel, I didn’t recognize the rigidity of my own thoughts or sometimes even the sound of my own voice. Anxiety, while it manifests differently for everyone, can make us live in a way that feels out of line with the things that we value most. The truth that I needed to be reminded of was that having knowledge around anxiety treatment, didn’t make me immune to experiencing it. If I wanted my values to guide me through the things that I hold most dear (my parenting, my marriage, my work), I would have to do “the work” myself.
The process of letting go of my own faulty belief that I have to have it all together or fit into boxes that I no longer fit in, is allowing me to fully step into my power as a practicing human, a mother, a therapist, and business owner.
Facing, challenging and then changing the beliefs that were keeping me stuck and small, inspired me to share my voice and take up more space in the world. I started a podcast and a social media platform where I share my thoughts and insights from both my clinical and personal perspective around being imperfectly and courageously human.
When the pandemic began, I noticed that people who didn’t have Anxiety Disorders were starting to experience the very thoughts and feelings that so many of my own clients and followers experience on the daily. Knowing the way in which people would increasingly start to struggle with anxiety as the pandemic unfolded, and also the way in which we as therapists would have to adjust our work, inspired me to create online resources for mental health that are both accessible and affordable.
I created the “Living Well with Anxiety,” mini guided workbook as a way to both share helpful truths about anxiety and introduce people to the life changing practice of learning to welcome uncertainty. While this workbook doesn’t encompass the depth of work that needs to be done to fully help people with their anxiety, it’s a start. In this season of life, I am learning to embrace that something is better than nothing. If we wait for things to be “better,” or the perfect circumstance to work on our mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health we just might miss the boat.
I hope you’ll take this workbook as an invitation to take ownership of your own life, even when it’s hard. I believe we can learn to live well with all the things life throws our way; and yes, anxiety included.
About the Author
Kaitlin Soule is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Kaitlin has a private practice in Northern California where she helps people to do the work of healing and growth when living with anxiety, depression, OCD, navigating life transitions, and dealing with trauma. In addition to seeing clients in her practice, Kaitlin is an advocate for destigmatizing mental health and hosts a podcast called, “Living Well With Kaitlin,” where she shares her clinical and personal insights around mental wellness. Learn more about Kaitlin at www.petalumacbt.org