My downstairs neighbor is practicing Christmas carols on his trumpet. What did I do to deserve this? WHAT DID I DO?
— Body-Mind Conspiracy (@BoMiConspiracy) November 9, 2013
Hi. I’m Ian Harvey, and I’ve got social anxiety.
Consider the following: You’ve spent a year of your life learning a skill, then several more honing it as a hobby. You get licensed, you’re good at what you do, and… nothing. Your brain vapor locks at the thought of actually executing your craft. Thousands of hours sunk in, and your hand drops the paintbrush, or your feet go numb when you strap on the tap shoes.
That’s where I was on Tuesday, all dressed up and no place to go. I’m a massage therapist, and I can’t bring myself to see clients.
The whole massage thing was completely out of left field in the first place. I was a weird kid in high school, with too much Dungeons and Dragons and too little self-awareness. I thought that hugs were only about the arms, and that wishing hard enough could make my crush come around and see the real me. I had hair down to my mid-back and a sweet collection of Hawaiian shirts.
From the ages of, oh, 17-24, my jaw was a complete piece of crap. It clicked, it popped, it hurt to open, and damn it hurt to close. Not all the time, of course. It came in waves, and some days would be better than others.
TMJ disorder (often just called TMJ) is a problem with the temporomandibular joint, a very complex place where the jaw bone is connected to the head bone. This is a floaty joint, meant to come a bit out of socket as you open wide, move your jaw side to side, forward and back, etc. As you may have noticed, there’s a disc involved, a little piece of cartilage just like the ones between your vertebrae. Some of you will notice it pop in and out of place, and others will have had a very painful experience with this. Sorry about all that.
Anxiety was definitely involved in my case, no doubt about it. I had several fun, overlapping anxiety disorders that made sure that my jaw got no rest while I slept, and that I felt like crap by the time I needed to wake up. This is a phenomenon known as sleep bruxism, otherwise known as grinding the shit out of your teeth at night. Ever wake up with a sore jaw or wiggly teeth? Have a problem with receding gums? Get frequent headaches in your temples? You’re a prime candidate.
If you’d like to try a quick meditation, check out my first little podcast thingy below. This is on the whole finding your wisdom thing that we talked about yesterday, but it’s still just meditation. Let me know what you think, and whether you’d like more of these.
Think back to the last time you really outdid yourself. Maybe it was at a business meeting, or on a school project. Maybe you whipped up this amazing loaf of banana bread, or crane kicked a bully to win a karate tournament.
I’m serious, think back to instances of yourself surpassing your own expectations, because this proves two things:
- You are capable of great things.
- Your expectations are bullshit.
Riddle me this, Batman: How did you manage to exceed your expectations? Was it dumb, luck, the stars aligning? Waking up on the right side of the bed and having a decent breakfast? No matter how you justify your low expectations, they’ve been wrong in the past, and they’ll be wrong again. Self-limiting thoughts and language are real psychological phenomena, and we’ll talk about them more in the future, but today we’ll skip straight to kicking ass.