This isn’t something that’s necessarily easy to talk about, or even fun to admit. But over the years, I’ve struggled at times with agoraphobia.

For some people I’ve heard it’s a near constant battle. And I consider myself fortunate that it hasn’t been that for me. It tends to show up when I’m exhausted, when I’ve had too much caffeine, when I’m tired, or when my blood sugar is low.

And for me, shows up as fear of open spaces, sitting at traffic lights, and the movies. I can still enjoy myself at the movies. But I think the reason I feel some anxiety there is because I feel a little bit claustrophobic. I have less issues with smaller screens, and more issues with bigger screens.

My first run in with anxiety happened when I was 25. It was 2008. And I started my personal development journey. I decided to start getting up at 6 AM each morning so I could get more done. But I wasn’t sleeping earlier. I wasn’t getting the right amount of sleep or rest. I wasn’t meditating habitually. I wasn’t particularly eating well or exercising well.

And so, within 60 days, for the first time, I experienced a panic attack on the way to the hospital. Again, I consider myself fortunate that I got on a path of recovery quite early. And within about four or five months, I started to feel a lot better. Given that some people say they’ve struggled with it for years and decades – which is unimaginable for me – I’m grateful that I decided to seek help and get on a path of recovery early.

And ultimately, I think it’s the same thing with agoraphobia. I want to seek help and find a therapist.

But in the meantime, I wanted to share discovery with you. I was watching a couple of videos about agoraphobia on YouTube last night. And I basically came away with that feeling – “I’m not so strange, I’m not so weird, and I can be kind to myself.”

And rather intuitively, there’s a mantra that I’ve started repeating to myself whenever I feel anxious. And that mantra is:

I understand your concerns.

And when I repeat that to myself, I start to feel calmer. And I think this is me speaking to my inner child. I’m letting them know that everything is okay. I’m letting them know that they’re heard. And they are important.

And the truth is, we may grow into our adult bodies. But there’s some part of us that will always remain a child. And in fact, we are much closer to our identity when we’re children than we’re adults oftentimes because we end up adding a lot of things to our adult selves that don’t necessarily belong there.

I don’t know if agoraphobia and anxiety is something that you struggle or wrestle with. But I do know it’s quite common among artists and creatives. So, next time you’re feeling anxiety, I want you to try saying this mantra to yourself: “I understand your concerns.” Keep repeating that to yourself and see how it feels. See if you feel any calmer.

There’s an inner child waiting to be recognized and to be heard. And you need to let them know that everything’s okay.

You Can Never Know

You Can Never Know

What it’s like to be another person.

You judge them based on their appearance, what they say, how they do life. And you form your impression of them.

I’m not talking about the cleaned up, G rated version of how you talk about them.

I’m talking about the way you judge people as if you were god himself:

“They’re ugly.”

“They’re slow and stupid. Are they even capable of learning?”

“I don’t like them – I wish they would die.”

Don’t look at me with self-righteous eyes. I know you’re thinking these things too.

Are you a horrible person for thinking these things? That’s not the point.

The point is that your thoughts, opinions, and judgements are emanating from a single source – you. They aren’t coming from anywhere else.

Sure, sometimes you agree with others and their opinions. But all opinions you hold as true are your own. You can’t shirk responsibility.

What you hold as “truth” is fundamentally just a perspective.

I know you want to hold on dearly to what you call truth. But it’s not truth. It’s just your version of truth.

So, you simply can’t know what it’s like to be in another’s shoes.

We say to “walk a mile in their shoes” but when it comes right down to it, it’s just grasping at straws.

Someone says they’re depressed. You think they can just think their way out of it or go do something to feel better.

But if you’ve experienced depression, you know it doesn’t work that way.

You will never know what it’s like to be in anyone else’s shoes.

So, are your judgments warranted?

Maybe you could begin listening from understanding, or compassion, or opportunity. Maybe that would change the relationship.

The reality is, you can listen to others from any space. It’s your choice.

But don’t assume that you’re always right. Don’t take truth for granted. Don’t pretend to know what something is like if you haven’t experienced it yourself.

Instead, become curious and seek to understand. You can’t claim to be empathetic if you don’t at least put in the bare minimum amount of effort required.