The Power of the Familiar

Anxiety is so often a fundamentally irrational experience. I love logic. It’s hard for me to accept that there are parts of me that can be so irrational, especially on days (like today) when anxiety gets the better of me. As humans, we love to rationalize, to find pattern and meaning, to know what to expect. Generally, this is a good thing. It helps us to make sense of our lives, to understand the world around us, and to shape our futures. But with anxiety, falling into familiar patterns is a horrible feeling.

That’s what I did today. I experienced the pull of the familiar, the routine of anxious avoidance… and I gave into it, consciously, because I literally couldn’t imagine what the other path looked like. That scared me, so I chose known over unknown. I literally chose having a panic attack over trying to do something new, something better, because panic attacks are familiar to me, and the new thing wasn’t.

I think I understand now why people get so stuck in self-destructive behaviors and abusive relationships. It isn’t that people in those situations are blinded by love or can’t see that their actions or partners are bad for them. They merely repeat a situation where they know what to expect, because that feels safe, and change doesn’t.

I’m not going to back down, though. Today was an unsuccessful attempt at conquering newness, but I am unbelievably lucky. You see, I have the gift of tomorrow, and as my mother tells me my grandma used to say: tomorrow is another day.

It’s incredible how liberating a little aphorism can be. With each new sunrise, we can choose to start anew… If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

But for a moment, consider this: if we didn’t have an element of the irrational in us, we would lose all sense of magic and wonder and the power of mystery. Beings of pure reason could never feel a flash of joy at the sight of sunlight on leaves, a breeze on a bare palm, or a story of a young girl who kissed a frog and made him a prince…



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