One thing that people are sometimes surprised to hear about me is that I struggled with chronic anxiety for many years in my life.
Throughout most of my childhood, adolescence, and early twenties, I remember living in a constant mental hell of fear and worry. Even though on the outside I mostly seemed calm and easygoing, on the inside, life felt like a continual battle to me.
Before going to school or work in the mornings, I often felt so nervous I couldn't breathe or eat. As the day progressed, I'd usually relax a little bit, but still, as a sensitive person, it was difficult for me to constantly be surrounded by so many people, even if I got along well with most of my peers. At night, I often had trouble sleeping, and I hardly ever felt fully rested even if I went to bed early.
In my twenties, things finally began to get better. I felt more confident and secure in myself, I was more outgoing and spent more time socializing with my friends, and I enjoyed the new freedom that came with being a university student.
Nonetheless, that inner tension never went away completely. I still felt it pretty much every day, each time I went to work (especially whenever my boss was in the office with me), I had a hard time relaxing around the men in my life, and later, when I started my own business, that dreadful knot in my stomach was a constant companion once again.
Eventually, it became so bad I knew I had to do something about it. Living in constant fear, worry and anxiety really wasn't my idea of entrepreneurial freedom. Even though being my own boss and getting to make my own schedule was awesome, my soul was dying inside of me.
About a year after starting my business, I felt so much resistance to continuing on this path I knew I needed to change something—now! That's when my journey of liberation truly began.
Not only did this decision to change my life from the inside out open up an entirely new career path for me, it forced me to deal with my anxiety head-on. And it didn't actually take very long. A few weeks after implementing a few simple (yet radical) changes, life was never the same again.
I wasn't just incredibly excited and passionate about the new direction I was taking in my business, there was an inner peace inside of me I had never even thought possible, and that lasted even after my initial 21 day break.
Curious what exactly I did to break free from my anxiety and create a new sense of peace, ease and deep soul-fulfillment in my life + business? Here are the top #5 things I shifted to initiate this transformation:
5 Ways to Break Free from Entrepreneurial Anxiety
1. I got clear on what I really wanted.
First of all, I got 100% honest with myself about what I really wanted in my life. I understood that simply being my own boss and having time and location freedom wasn't enough. Once I dared to ask deeper questions, I realized that I was longing for a greater sense of purpose in my career, AND that I wanted to have a lot more fun in my life. I wanted to express myself freely, explore my creativity and spirituality, feel more deeply connected to life, God, myself, and the people around me, and yes, I got super excited about the idea of being completely free to travel the world doing what I loved. Admitting to myself what I truly wanted on a deep heart and soul level was the beginning of everything.
2. I made no more excuses.
Once I had found that clarity within myself, there was no stopping me. I understood that it was up to me to change my life the way I had envisioned it, and that the time was now. Instead of continuing to wait for better circumstances (more time, savings, permission from my clients or partner, etc.), I made a decision to go for it without delay. Well, to be exact, the universe helped out a little bit by making my internet go haywire one Monday morning, which forced me to slow down and keep my obligations to a minimum for a week. At the end of that week, I told all my clients what I was going to take another three weeks off. And, in these three weeks, I fully committed to only doing what I loved each day. As I literally stepped right into the life I desired, a powerful shift was set into motion. More ideas, inspiration, and clarity came each day, and now, there was definitely no more stopping me!
3. I challenged my anxiety.
There was one thing I became aware of very quickly during my three week break. Even though I was following my joy every single day and there was absolutely nothing I needed to worry about, I still woke up with a tremendous amount of anxiety every morning. I didn't check my e-mail or social media accounts during these three weeks. Yet, I still found myself anticipating the same overwhelming stress I had always felt before starting up my computer each morning. Now that I knew there wasn't any real reason to feel that way, I challenged myself to question where the anxiety was really coming from. I realized that it was really just a feeling inside of me, and not a response to a real physical threat. From that day on, I committed to doing whatever it took to free myself from the anxiety first thing each morning, whether it was through meditation or simply reminding myself that there was nothing to be afraid of. And again, this simple change created a massive, lasting shift. (I still remember the day I had coffee again for the first time months later—I was totally perplexed at the nervousness I felt because I simply wasn't used to it anymore.) :)
4. I set better boundaries.
Once my three week experiment was over, I knew I didn't want to go back to the way things had been before. I still had a business to run and bills to pay, but I knew that sacrificing my well-being and being in constant fear was no longer an option. For the first time ever, I wasn't afraid to set clear boundaries with the people in my life. Whether it was saying no to a non-ideal client, stopping the habit of always needing to take care of everyone else's needs first, or spending less time on social media. After letting go of a few clients who were no longer a good fit, I almost immediately manifested a wonderful new client who hired me for a 6-month project and paid me about twice my usual hourly rate (I didn't even have to ask for it) so I could easily afford to work half days and dedicate my afternoons to my new passion project.
My life continued to change rapidly from there: A few months later, I left an unhealthy relationship I had been holding on to for way too long, started my first YouTube channel, booked my flight to Hawaii to become a certified Angel Therapy Practitioner®, and within a year and a bit, I was free to travel the world with all my belongings in a suitcase and carry-on bag.
5. I committed to my emotional healing journey.
In the years to come, one of my biggest challenges was dealing with the immense amount of childhood trauma that came to the surface around the time I came back to Canada in 2012. Even though returning to my childhood home was a dream come true in so many ways, it also triggered the memory of a past loss much more profound than I remembered. During this time, I embarked on my "journey into the heart", which involved massive amounts of shadow work (emotional healing work) as well as learning the practice of being more present in all areas of my life.
This is a journey that continues until today, and that I think continues for most of us throughout our lives, although it can certainly change form. In recent times, the message that has often come through for me is to allow more joy rather than spending too much time digging in the shadows, which has opened up a whole new world of possibility. A gem I discovered on this journey a couple years ago and that I want to share with you before I close this article: EFT tapping has certainly been one of my best friends in moments of intense anxiety and panic (which has become much less frequent, but can still flare up occasionally in times of rapid change and growth).
6. (BONUS TIP) Embrace what works for you.
One of the beautiful things about being human is that we're all different and unique. Therefore, keep in mind that what works for me may not always be exactly what works for you right now. Allow yourself to be free to explore your own path. Go and find your medicine. If you like, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and look back at your life. Think about important breakthroughs you've had in your life (+ business) and how you set yourself free to make those changes happen. What has specifically worked for you? If in doubt: Ask, and allow the solution to find its way to you! Be open to new possibilities, too. (The universe always has your back!)