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How to Step out of the Competition: Part I

Updated on March 2, 2015

My Inspiration for this Article

I'm an artsy-fartsy hippie at the best of times and a ruthless, cold blooded business woman at the worst. How is this possible? Well I'm insane. Also, I refuse to fit myself into a category. Because really, there are no categories.

As an artist (allow me to categorize myself now), it can be hard to leave comparison out of my process. One day, I was working on a particularly silly project that put my brain into this spiral. I was working on creating a mosaic piece on my window with film. Basically it was differently colored hearts placed closely together in a design. Some of which, I colored myself to look "stained-glass inspired". I was staring at one of the hearts. It wasn't perfect. The shape was but I could see marker strokes on it.

I thought about how much better it would have looked if I had just bought "stained-glass" contact paper. I considered my husband standing in the kitchen cooking (proving there is no logic in anxiety-producing storytelling in ones head) and looking at my window wondering the following: does she think that looks good? Is she done with this project? Is this really the final result? I live with a crazy person leaving 4th grader art all over my house. I should divorce her.

The anxiety spiral is a fun game for some but there is a way to step out of it. I PROMISE!

Personal Process

We all have different ways we process information, thoughts, and emotions. I have a long standing love-affair with anxiety. Meanwhile, my mistress depression is always lurking closely by. These are both abusive relationships though! Let me tell you, living in one is bad enough but adding in the other seems to do more than double your problems.

As you might imagine, I'm not the "calm type". I am however, the "kick ass, take names later unless I forget type". Whether it be during a Depression Spiral or an Anxiety Roller Coaster, I have turned to my lord and savior, Google.

When I'm freaking out (yes, that's the clinical term, I'm just sure of it) there are things I want and things I don't want. Keep in mind I'm being mature enough to look for help instead of huffing a can of spray paint and flying my car off of a cliff. Still, it has been hard for me to find helpful information.

I don't want an article telling me to partake in calming breathing exercises. If I could do that I wouldn't be mid-freak out. I don't want to be told to count my blessings and do some yoga. My inner demons are not down.

I don't want to be calmed or sedated. I want to fix my problem to regain my control. Get it out. Talk to someone safe in your life. Anyone you can trust. If you're mom is going to stomp on your self esteem or your brother will use it against you, don't talk to them. Don't create more problems for yourself. Once you have a safe person to confide in, Let it go (sorry, I had to).

Let it Go

Say everything you're thinking. Don't curl up in a ball of self pity. That takes up too much time you should be spending enjoying yourself. The most important thing is to stop the Depression Spiral before it starts; before nothing has meaning and you're going to die.

Feel like you're going to freak out? Here's my advice: freak out. I know, insane, listening to yourself. What a concept. While being simple, this concept is often overlooked. People do what's easy and what works. What we forget is that immediate gratification rarely leads to long-term satisfaction. Things can work better.

Believe it or not, there are ways to freak out in an appropriate, healthy manner. We can't go outside to rip into a gazelle or beat our spouses. Quite frankly, most of us don't really want to, also, when you get right down to it.

Vent it out. I think people who draw inward and self-destruct rarely feel heard. Make yourself heard. Talk to your loved one(s). Say every nasty thing you think and every wrong way you feel. Be heard. Don't bottle anything. Some of us can last a few weeks before exploding, others a few hours. It happens though. Why delay the inevitable? Cry, yell, laugh, just express yourself. If you don't really know why you're so mad or sad vent about anything and everything that makes you so mad/sad. Once you get talking it will ramble itself out for you.

Babies Are Smarter

Pitfalls to Dodge

Posting on social media while angry or sad is just a bad idea. Also, don't go home to pick a fight with your spouse. Remember, they are your ally. Don't punish those around you by projecting your fears or anxieties onto them. In the long run, you will feel worse for doing so. Some people however, feel better after doing so. If you notice that trait within yourself I would suggest seeking therapy. Trust me, we all feel it to a certain extent but if you notice that trait popping up often, I would seek help. Include your loved ones in what your problems without hurting them. Leaving them out makes them feel helpless and often very confused, if they don't suffer with similar issues. When my husband and I first got together I left him out of what I'm going through. I remember him telling me, "just calm down". As if, that thought just never occurred to me. I would get so mad and wonder what the hell he didn't understand. Then, I realized the obvious. I had never explained any of it. Of course, he had no idea what was wrong with me because I never told him. We now have a very open line of communication about all of this and so much more. I consider myself much more sane.

Something that also took me way too long to figure out; I don't want my problems solved. I just want to talk and be agreed with. I've gotten to the point where I just say that up front. It's actually less stressful for them because they end up not feeling like they have to take on your load. Men are problem-solvers. Women have the solutions in the back of their minds but they still have to vent off the frustration. We have an extra step (yay!).

When I'm spiraling nothing pleases me. I promise you. I can have the perfect options presented to me and still be a total pain in the ass. At that point my attitude sucks. Have you ever heard the term, lean into the skid? There's something to it. If I try to watch something funny or sweet I'll rip it to pieces. If I watch Law and Order: SVU, I'll actually start to feel better. Stay in your tonality but try to focus on something other than your immediate issue. Then, you can start to move away onto something else.

Law and Order: SVU

The Dangers of Drawing Comparisons

Comparisons are dangerous because the keep us from being able to fully appreciate the beauty each and every thing holds.

The little heart on my window. As I stared at that little heart, I poisoned it with my negativity. I started to feel bad. I remembered during one of my particularly attractive days, looking at a painting I had completed; judging it. My husband told me that it doesn't matter if your art is "good" or "bad" because it's your art; it' own entity. There is nothing else like it. It's just beautiful because it simply is.

I felt bad for judging that little heart. He just is who he is and I'm being rude about him. He's 100% unique and I'm being judgmental. I love that little heart now. Clearly, this is about much more than hand-designed window stickers. It's applicable in so many aspects of our lives though.

This leads me to my concept, Individual Truth. Everything is it's own. Take a look at the image below.


Individual Truth

How many times have you heard/thought the following "I could paint that", "that doesn't even look real", "that's dumb", etc. Why? Because it looks simple. It isn't super detailed. It's not so intricate that it would require an unbelievable skill. These thoughts are negative. They are intended to bring something down to our level so we feel higher. While this comes naturally to most of us, it's incredibly harmful. It keeps us from absorbing the positive. You can't emotionally feel something if you're simultaneously attempting to rip it down.

The fact is, you didn't make it. There is nothing exactly like it. Something I have tried to do (not during a panic attack) is list what I love about something. I'm not allowed to list anything negative. Using the image above as a reference, I will give an example of both negatives and positives.

Negatives: Not anatomically accurate, not enough detail, amateur.

Positives: The yellows pop with a beautiful, vibrant intensity. The clashing patterns and colors identify with my own complex feelings about myself. The lines and shapes formed in this piece make me feel connectivity within my own conflict.

Really, which thought makes you feel like you would walk away happier in your day?

Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?

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