The Ambition Monster

It hardly counts as any kind of deep admission these days to reveal that I struggle with anxiety. Who doesn't?

But I think a lot of us can relate to the idea that when we are up against our triggers, it helps to stop and apply a liberal dose of self compassion. It doesn't make the panic feelings disappear, but at least the reason for them can become part of a larger, worthy whole. I am not my anxiety. It is not me. It is a part of what happens when I am up against one of my monsters.

Being a coach has helped me understand that many people find ambition to be a major stressor. We want to do great things! And, wanting something you may not get can get very frustrating. Our culture teaches us that all things are possible, if we just think/act/vibrate the right way.

But that is nonsense. Sometimes, you don't get what you want. 

Even more frightening, sometimes you do. I have had more clients tell me that the fear of being successful blocks their progress more thoroughly than fear of failure. We all experience failure. But how many of us are comfortable playing the role of the grand, glorious success?

For many of us, success and the feelings it engenders are triggers. They send us off into a cloud of anxiety about the inevitable smack down to follow; disapproval, rejection, or depression. If you have ever lived with someone who is bipolar, or if you are, you know how truly crippling a low can become. 

What is the remedy for this? First off, knowing and understanding that the ambition monster is real, and not a weakness of character. Secondly, doing what you can to take care of yourself.

What is not a helpful strategy is leaving off the work that led to the panic feeling. Keep working. Separate the work from the reaction to the work. Build boundaries around that.

Whatever happens out there, don't let it in here.  The monster works for you, not the other way around. There's nothing wrong with banishing that fiend, while letting your regular practice continue.

Deep breaths.