When anxiety overcomes you, do you take charge of your thoughts? Or do you let them overrun you while you feel helpless to do anything about it?
You can always control one thing and one thing only in this lifetime – and that’s you. You alone control your mind and your thoughts. And yes, you can take charge.
You not only control your thoughts, but you can also control your reactions, attitude, and mindset.
It just takes the desire to do so and consistent practice.
Often, when we stand alone, we feel weak and helpless. But when you see others who are strong, you can model them and become strong yourself. Role models are a great way to lift yourself up and help yourself remember how powerful you truly are.
So, I’m going to share some true stories with you.
Are you ready?
On October 14, 1912, an unemployed saloonkeeper shot 53-year-old Teddy Roosevelt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as he was getting into his car outside the Gilpatrick Hotel. The shooter stood 5 feet away and shot him in the chest with a Colt revolver.
Roosevelt’s people wanted to rush him to the hospital, but Roosevelt was set to give a speech. He refused to go to the hospital and opted, instead, to stand and give his 90-minute speech.
As he stood up to talk, he told the crowd to be as quiet as possible because “I have just been shot”. He said, “I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap…It takes more than that to kill a bull moose”.
He stood there for the next 90 minutes, delivering his speech. His voice wavered from the pain, and he was short of breath, but he continued on.
When he finished, he went to the hospital. The bullet had lodged near his 4th right rib on an upward trajectory to his heart. Doctors couldn’t remove it, so it stayed inside his body for the rest of his life.
May 26, 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking in the canyons of Utah when a boulder fell, crushing his right arm and pinning him against the wall of the canyon.
For five and a half days, he stood in that spot trying to free himself. Finally, on the 6th day, he grabbed the blunt knife from his Swiss Army knife and prepared to cut his arm off. He sawed and sawed, but the knife was so dull, he couldn’t even break the skin. He kept at it, though, and finally cut through the skin and muscle.
He couldn’t cut through the bone, though, so he used the rock to snap his radius bone and then his ulna. It took an hour to cut himself free. Then, he had to hike out of the park. He eventually ran into some people who helped get him to a hospital.
When he talked about his ordeal, his audience seemed more upset about than he did. His cool, calm demeanor peppered with jokes was amazing. He summed up his attitude when he said, “I felt pain and I coped with it. I moved on.”
Image Source by Aron Ralston
22-year-old Australian Erin Langworthy went bungee jumping at Victoria Falls in Zambia, Africa when the cord broke. She plummeted 130 feet into the crocodile-infested waters of the Zambezi River.
Crocodiles kill hundreds of people every year in Africa, especially along the Zambezi River. Three children were killed by crocodiles in a 3-month timespan, and many adults are killed, as well. Crocodiles are fast swimmers and can outswim most people.
Erin was injured from the extreme fall. The pain from hitting the water encompassed her whole body, and she struggled to breathe. Her ankles were still tied together. She still had about 100 feet of cord attached to her, and it kept getting caught as she tried to move through the water. She struggled to get to shore for 40 minutes.
When she arrived on shore, she was coughing up blood. After being transported to the hospital five and half hours later, it was discovered that she had a broken collarbone, and she was put on a ventilator. Her lungs had partially collapsed. She spent a week in the hospital recovering from her injuries.
She brushed off the experience and moved on, even reporting that she might bungee jump again. “I’m a positive person, so I’ve never been angry about what happened”, she said.
Image Source by traveller.com.au
Claire Champlin was smashed in the face by a 5-pound watermelon propelled by a slingshot while doing a challenge on the CBS show the Amazing Race.
It was extremely painful and she thought she was more injured than she was. It turns out, it didn’t do any real damage other than giving her an enormous headache for a few hours and her face and lips went numb.
Dorothy Yaple, a retired schoolteacher from Pentwater, MI was driving her bright yellow 1977 Opel sportscar one night when she swerved to avoid a deer. The car went off the road, through a guardrail, and down a 150-foot ravine. She was injured with cuts everywhere.
Dorothy was a pragmatist and always kept a positive attitude, so she immediately decided she needed to crawl up the side of the ravine because no one would ever find her down in the valley covered by trees in the pitch black of night. For four hours, she struggled to claw her way through the thick brush and get back to the road to summon help. Finally, she made it.
At the hospital, she found out that she had 3 broken bones and a broken back. When she recounted her ordeal later, she said, “Well, life throws you curves. You just dig deep and do what you gotta do. Everybody is strong. They just have to embrace that part of themselves.”
What About You?
These stories aren’t about people with anxiety, of course, but they are stories that demonstrate how much power you have to choose your thoughts, your attitude, your mindset, and your reactions.
You can choose to be strong and tackle your demons head-on or you can sit around and complain about how helpless you are. You can let the bad things go and move on, or you can spend the next 30 years lamenting how terrible things were, essentially re-living them over and over.
You can forgive yourself and others and move on to bigger and better things, or you can let hate and anger fester deep inside for the next 20 years. You can say to yourself, “Yes, I feel anxiety, but I have the power to control myself, and I will get past it. I can handle this! I will act in spite of the anxiety!”.
See, the choice is yours and yours alone. It always has been.