Imagine you just broke your Grandma’s vase; the one that always reminded you of her generous smile. It was your favorite vase. You’ve had it for many, many years but now it lies in front of you — scattered across the floor in hundreds of little pieces. How could you be so careless!?
In your despair, you pick up the pieces and try to put them together again. But it’s hopeless. The vase is broken and you’ll never make it look like it was before. As you’re standing over the broken pieces, the next couple of moments can go different ways.
- You could throw away the old, useless pieces. They are rubbish now.
- Or you could do your best and glue the pieces together as good as you can. The vase will remain fractured and vulnerable but at least you can hold on to the memory.
- Or you realize that there’s a different option. You could use the colourful pieces and put them together to create something completely new. Maybe a mosaic or a bowl made of the fragments.
What’s true for vases is also true for our lives. When we struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues, it can feel as if our world is shattered. It can feel as if there’s something wrong with ourselves. It can feel as if we’ve lost all our strength.
When this happens, we face the same decision. Do we cling to the past? Do we try to put the pieces together like they were before? Or do we accept the breakage and open up to new possibilities and ways of seeing the world?
Of course, that’s not easy. It’s hard to imagine a different life when all you see are the shattered pieces. And it’s even harder to really make those pieces into unique and beautiful art.
But we can learn to grow. All of us face experiences that challenge us. And each of them is an opportunity to change our way of thinking and build ourselves anew. The key here is our way of thinking. We need to learn to notice when we show strength and try to see our lives from a new perspective. And to open the door towards growth, there are a few questions that can help us:
- Are there any ways in which my family or friends strengthen and support me?
- Are there any things that are going well in my life right now?
- Is there another way of looking at my life right now?
- Is there anything I’m doing to cope that shows strengths that I haven’t noticed before?
These aren’t yes-or-no questions that you read through once. To really make a difference, we need to pose them regularly and pay close attention. We need to remind ourselves, over and over again, of the good in our lives. Our job is to learn to also notice the positive — even in the smallest ways. And with time, this will help us change the way we talk to ourselves and build the strength we need to heal what seems broken.
Of course, trying to put the vase together as it was before is the easier choice. It doesn’t require us to change. But if we really want to flourish, we need to pick up those pieces and create something new. And eventually, you might just come up with something you’d never have imagined possible.
If you want to learn more techniques to help you overcome anxiety, try Pocketcoach.
It’s a therapy chat bot that guides you through a program to manage anxiety — step by step and one day at a time. To give it a try, follow this link.