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May 30, 2013

Type A . . . for Anxiety . . . and Acceptance

So, needless to say, the date with my buddy never happened.  And we’re not actually friends anymore . . . Sorry for the depressing start to this, but it’s actually good news in the end!  You know how I mentioned that listening to my emotions was a big part of moving on from my last relationship?  Well, while this friend of mine--let’s call him Greg--had passion and was supportive of my health, he wound up triggering my anxiety as well.  I noticed my guard was up once we set the date.  Greg wasn’t following through on a time or place for getting drinks and my defenses were rearing their heads.  It’s fascinating how my emotions seemed to know what was up more accurately and quickly than my conscious mind.  Being a caretaker type--as many of us in this field are--I wanted to see the good in people.  I didn’t want to believe Greg was stuck in some unhealthy patterns. But, I’d already learned the hard way that I didn’t want to try to change anyone; that was a losing and exhausting battle.  So, I had to face the facts that some of the things Greg had said over the last year and a half of our friendship just didn’t add up.  He’d also mentioned he was terrible with women and now he wasn’t following through.  At one point, my friends had told me to run in the other direction.  These were pretty strong signs, right?  So, finally, I had to accept that he simply wasn’t the person I wanted or needed.  That brings us to the acceptance part!  

The morning of our date, Greg emailed to explain why he just couldn’t follow through with our getting drinks.  The reasons were somewhat legitimate, but he’d known them when he asked me out 2 weeks prior. I wanted to be able to remain his friend, but I knew in the end that I wouldn’t really be able to move on and be open to other people if I did that.  I was hooked and needed to unhook myself if I was going to effectively move on.  So, I called him and told him I’d felt a strong connection with him, but since he’d cancelled our date and had no intention of following through, that I had to create some space for myself and let go of the friendship.  

Immediately after having this conversation, I felt more like myself again.  Since letting go of the friendship, more facts have come to light about Greg and why he wouldn’t have been the man for me.  Turns out intuition is quite the gift and I’m learning to view my feelings in a whole new light.  I am truly grateful for being an emotionally sensitive person now because I’m able to interpret the messages my feelings are sending me and act on them.  My anxiety no longer feels like a burden, or something that is wrong with me, but a healthy signaling system that something is amiss. I’m able to face the difficult feelings head on and to make the tough calls when I need to, regardless of how painful it might be. The beautiful thing is that when I do this, the difficult feelings resolve themselves and dissipate.  I’m left feeling stronger, more confident and more resilient.
________________________________________________________________________Heather Shannon is a counselor and health coach working in private practice in Chicago.  She works primarily with "Type A" clients and takes a holistic approach to counseling, incorporating nutrition and lifestyle education into her work with teens and adults. 

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