Mar 27

This Totally Blew My F-ing Mind!

A MASSIVE epiphany I honestly didn’t see coming.

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This is me with my first meditation teacher, Peter Sonnenberg, and his wonderful wife, Anna. I love them both so much.

Hey,

This week, I did something I’ve literally never done in my whole life. Rather than allowing my anxiety to fuel my productivity, I actually mapped out and wrote the first draft of my TEDx talk early so I could still show up for our weekly cuppa tea this evening.

My usual MO would be to avoid working on the big project and then as a result have so much fucking anxiety about what I’m avoiding that I can’t really do anything else! Do you ever do that? I even teed myself up for this avoidance in last week’s letter by saying I wouldn’t write til May bc I’d be working on the talk. What I REALLY meant was that I expected to be in fetal position marinating in paralyzing anxiety until my TEDx talk was finally over. But, this time, I chose something different. This shift in my relationship with anxiety is very, very new and I want to share the secret with you.

In the past, anxiety, to me, had been like water to the fish. What water? What anxiety? I remember at the height of my career, my older sister trying to gently explain that my crazy-eyed 😵‍💫 insistence that “Oh, I’m not anxious at ALLLLLLLLL,” was an indication that I was, in fact, really quite anxious. And btw, so were most of my colleagues so I didn’t really experience much contrast. But again, try explaining water to a fish. I was not ready. I was in too deep.

But now that I have many years distance from the really high, high levels of anxiety…my proverbial ocean, I can see it more clearly. Like a fish that’s left the ocean and lived in a fish bowl for a while…seeing humans walking around, having dinner, doing things outside of water. 16 years out of the ocean…16 years gaining some perspective, I am much more aware of when I am anxious (ummm…yeah…almost always 😬). But there is a huge difference between anxiety being my status quo and having awareness of my anxiety. In one instance, it’s like a car with an automatic transmission. I was not in control at all. I would just shift in and out of anxiety without any consciousness or any pause to make a different choice or support myself. Even though it’s kind of brutal to be vividly aware of my constant anxiety, it’s like driving a stick shift. I can be more intentional about supporting myself when I feel it come on. When I didn’t have awareness that I was anxious, I was just…Burnt. The. Fuck. Out. With no space to choose otherwise, the only solution felt like continuing to hustle. I’m fine! I’m great! (Said with a maniacal serial killer smile! 🔪🔪🔪) Continuing to grind. Continuing to…to…joylessly…bitterly…punch in: The polar opposite vibe to what got me into the magazine business to begin with. I worked 7 days a week and only allowed myself Sunday afternoons off. I was too fried to do anything around my home. Never unloaded a dishwasher. Never made a meal. Making my bed felt like it took a major effort. Luckily or unluckily, I had a partner who would do it all. Today, I would call this enabling because he allowed me to be as unbalanced as I became. Not blaming him at all. But showing the other side of devotion. Everything in balance, right?

Are you ready for my big-ass epiphany that lead to this first-ever ACTUAL change in behavior? Stay with me, because I’m going to use a word that I know, for sure, will make you 🙄🥱😴💤.

Meditation.

Right??? Like suuuuuurrrrrrreeeeee, I’ll meditate. 👌🏻 I will start…tomorrow. When I have absolutely nothing else to do. Which means I’ll start the 10th of Never. Press here to Unsubscribe to poor Atoosa’s newsletter. (Don’t do that! In fact, become a PAID subscriber! 🤩🤣)

But seriously, I REALLY relate to a disinterest in meditation. It’s like broccoli with my kids. They are fully aware it’s good for them, and they prefer fries thank-you-very-much. And to be clear, I’m not asking you to meditate, just listen to the big realization I got through meditation and try THAT on for size.

Let me backtrack for a moment.

I don’t need to remind you about how weirdly hard it’s been for me to get over my ex-boyfriend, the Bear. 🐻 (This is where my besties, stop reading. 🖕🏼) Even though I have avoided talking to him when he has reached out, I have NOT been able to stop thinking about and missing him. It’s been so vexing for me. So I keep going back to a place of compassion and gentleness with myself. I started to do a formal sitting meditation practice to see if I can gain some insight.

And…BANG…it actually fucking happened! 🤯

Have you ever heard the term anchor or drishti? In meditation, your anchor or your drishti is what you go back to. Like it could be your breathe….a mantra….a gazing point inside or outside. If, during your meditation, you get wrapped up in your thoughts, you’re supposed to gently go back to your anchor/drishti: your breath, your mantra, whatever. And whether you have an actual meditation practice or not, life is a meditation…for EVERYONE. That’s why the formal practice is helpful. It’s a concentrated pocket of time daily (20 minutes-ish for me) where you can gently train your mind and perhaps make more conscious choices in other parts of your life.

Ready for it?

If we look at my life as a meditation, I had unconsciously made the Bear my fucking anchor! Anytime I was anxious or overwhelmed, I would go back to thoughts of him. He is not the right romantic match for me, but our relationship was a beautiful experience and memory. So when stressed, I just kept going back to him over and over, making the Bear groove deeper and deeper in my psyche despite my conscious desire to move on. I realized, if we don’t consciously pick our anchor, in the midst of life’s typical stresses, we will keep going back to an unconscious anchor. For me, it was this past relationship. So despite being in a new relationship, despite WANTING to move on, despite, despite, despite it ALL, I was keeping this old relationship that was totally past it’s expiration date front and center and deeply embedded in my mind.

This was a huge epiphany for me. HUGE!

So now when I find my thoughts drifting to him, instead of thinking UGH, WHY DO I KEEP THINKING OF HIM…or getting lost in yearning, I gently (gently!), with love, redirect my thoughts to my new mantra…my new drishti. Drumroll, please…. The Emancipation of Atoosa: My freedom from being controlled by anxiety; freedom from co-dependent relationships; freedom from using achievement to determine my worth. Freedom, freedom, freedom. I envision myself being a creative creature again. I envision myself curating content again. I envision myself leading a team again. I envision myself doing all the things I used to do and love but this time without being fueled by fear. That is my new anchor.

Do you have an anchor you weren’t consciously aware you were using in your life’s meditation? A traumatic memory? A past love? Social media or death scrolling? Remember you can change it right in this moment. Just create your highest intention for yourself and every time you are uncertain…every time you are afraid or anxious…every time you want to grab your phone and watch some dumb shit on TikTok or IG, conjure up your beautiful new anchor.

If you have no patience for meditation, feel free to use my insight, because whether you like it or not, all of life is a meditation. Let’s pick our anchors wisely and make them nourishing, healthy and supportive. Why the fuck not? We can’t pick the outside forces that cause us anxiety, but we CAN choose how we deal with it.

Changing my anchor is what gave me the space and insight to change how I dealt with my upcoming creative deadline. It’s remarkable how limiting having an unhelpful anchor was to my life. I kinda wonder what my anchor was at the height of my anxiety when I was working. I suspect it was an insane sense of competition with other magazines, like “Must destroy Teen People.” 💀 The idea of it is so f-ing stupid and hilarious to me today. But I suspect it was super toxic and negative back then. It only took me 16 years to figure it out. 💁🏻‍♀️

I know there’s a whole trend on TikTok about retiring by age 30. I totally get that. I totally lived that. Burn out is like sitting in a jacuzzi that keeps getting hotter until you feel you will be boiled alive. You just have to get out. That’s why I, myself, retired at 35. I was really lucky because I had met my career goals and was married to a guy who was able to finacially support us..and in time, our family. (And by the way, as lucky as the latter was on one hand, it also made me complacent for many years - perhaps without the wealthy husband, I would have resurfaced sooner than 16 years - I have no idea.) Before you, too, decide to be a freegan or whatever to retire early to escape the grind, see if changing your anchor from social media or negative/painful memories and thoughts shifts anything for you. Tbd, sister, tbd. Paid subscribers can scroll down for some great meditation teachers and guided meditations.

Okay, now I have to revise my talk. Here for you, 24/7, as always, at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa

The soundtrack of my 🤍🖤❤️:

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