The White Noise In The Background

Do you ever feel like there white noise following you around in the background of your life?

You can’t really put your finger on it, but something is there, humming in the shadows.

I have felt that way all summer; white noise just lurking in the background. It’s almost like a warning that something large and unexpected is going to jump out at any moment.

It’s a low level of anxiety, constantly tapping on my arm. Kind of like that constant tapping of a child saying “mom, mom, mom, mom” until you finally answer.

It finally dawned on me what was causing this white noise, this constant arm tapping, this low level anxiety.

My oldest daughter is leaving for college next week. Without even consciously knowing that I have been thinking about it, it has been there, tapping on my arm all summer. The dread of her leaving has been my unwanted summer guest. It has settled itself very comfortably into my life. Except it doesn’t feel so comfortable to me.

I have found myself acting out on this anxiety. I have been easily frustrated by things. I haven’t been as engaged as I would like to be with my family because I find myself binge watching tv and reading to try and escape the background hum.

I finally had to sit down and have a frank conversation with myself (I don’t really sit and talk to myself but I did do some intense self coaching and redirecting). Here is the conclusion I came too:

Having my daughter leave to college can not make me feel anxious. The only thing that can make me feel anxious is what I choose to think about it.

I have been thinking thoughts like:

“She is going to leave and nothing will be the same.”

“I haven’t taught her all I needed to.”

It is thoughts like these that have caused my anxiety. And the funny thing is, I have found myself withdrawing from my family because of my anxious feelings, thus in essence, I have been the one “leaving my family”.

Why does this matter? Why is it important to recognize that my daughter leaving for college isn’t causing me pain but my thoughts about her leaving are actually causing the unerlying anxiety?

Why is it important for you to realize that nothing in your life can cause you to feel a negative emotion?

If we don’t recognize this, then we are always at the mercy of outside circumstances to control our feelings. Nothing feels more helpless then not being in charge of yourself and feeling like a victim of your life.

I actually don’t think I want to jump up and down and be super excited that she is leaving. I am going to allow myself to feel a little anxious and sad, but I am going to be in charge of how I react to that anxious feeling. I can feel anxious and just accept that feeling and not try to buffer it away with tv or books. I will just feel anxious AND engage with my family and connect and love as much as I can.

I am in charge. ALWAYS

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