3 Steps on Dealing With The War Within | By Kenesha T. Ryce

Friday, February 21, 2020

Illustration by Petra Eriksson 

A few months ago, I decided to throw my hat into the ring for Millennial of the decade: I quit my job and moved back in with my parents in order to be able to create more. (Just another millennial with a podcast and an online business over here!) I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work itself out, but I felt an undeniable pull towards this path. Call it the universe reassuring me, call it kismet, call it God, but a strange sense of peace and excitement washed over me as I began to daydream about the possibilities for my future. Then, the other shoe dropped. I heard a little voice creeping into my head, and it began listing all the reasons my plan wouldn’t work out for me. It was a voice with which I am all too familiar. It has been with me in every major and minor decision of my life. In its familiar sadistic tone, the voice said, “Hey, sometimes it just doesn’t work out for some people. You can try all you want, but it just might not be in the cards for you.” “Maybe just keep your job and work on your business when you have downtime?” “Aren’t you sick of being broke?” I found every one of these counterpoints to be valid and, consequently, difficult to dismiss. 

We all have arguments within ourselves from day-to-day. There’s the angel on one shoulder telling us to eat right and exercise. In contrast, the demon, on the other shoulder is busy pulling up an article to inform us that based on a recent “study,” a daily bar of chocolate is essential for healthy living. For many of us, the internal war can grow to be rather intense as the equally strong creative and analytical portions of ourselves duke it out for ultimate control. 

It is for this reason that this article is not a guide to silencing your analytical and often pessimistic side (I certainly haven’t mastered that yet), but provides three steps to channeling that negative energy for a positive result. 

Step 1: Don’t choose sides

Life is a balancing act. If we venture too far to either side, we will inevitably reach an unhealthy result. If we allow ourselves to get sucked into the black hole of worry, it becomes difficult to get anything done. However, if we go to the other end of the spectrum and completely dismiss our worries and fears before confronting them, all we’re doing is repressing our feelings. The trick is to listen to what each side has to say. Odds are both have valid points. Allow your inner dreamer to dream freely without the pessimistic side butting in to interject unhelpful remarks. Then (at a separate time) allow your worries to voice their opinion. Both are parts of you, so in order to be your authentic self, you must honor your complete self. 

Step 2: Channel your worrying energy into planning energy

Your worry is telling you something. It may be telling you that you need to think through your plans more carefully or that there’s a better route to your result. Give that negative energy a positive purpose. Instead of making lists in your head of all the things that might go wrong, make a list of all the things you can do to ensure that things go right. We are all so wonderfully unique. If you are anything like me, you are highly creative and imaginative but also have a very strong logical, analytical side. Because both sides are so strong, when they are pitted against each other, we’re in for a nail-biting fight. Imagine then, the beauty of placing them both on the same team fighting for your happiness and success. Now that’s a winning combination!

Step 3: Don’t burn yourself out

As a person with a lot of anxieties, “feel the fear and do it anyway” has become my modus operandi, but burnout is real! Set realistic expectations for yourself. Some days you’ll have an inhuman amount of energy and motivation, and other days it will take you all day to complete one task. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when the worry starts taking over. Just give yourself a moment to redirect that energy elsewhere, and for the love of all things productive, DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE! They say curiosity killed the cat, but my money is on comparison. 

I have always been a risk-taker, but it hasn’t been easy for me. With each risk I take, I have been a ball of anxiety as I watch my decisions unfold before me. Sometimes It works out more perfectly than I could have ever imagined, and at other times I’m not as happy with the end result. Still, overall I am more content with my attempts (failed or successful) than I could ever be with the regret of having never pursued my interests and passions. I hope these steps help you to live more boldly and to embrace the beautiful madness of your humanity. I wish you peace and love on your journey. 

Illustration by Petra Eriksson 

 Post by Kenesha T. Ryce 
 Kenesha is the creator and host of the podcast Fam Talk, the author of the  We Imagine Music book series for children and a lover of all things creative. Instagram