Whether it’s our fat thighs, our inability to successfully manage the household, or even quiet our own irrational thoughts — it’s time we all cut ourselves a little slack. Stephanie Young from I’m Still Learning shares her quest for acceptance.


Acceptance. That’s my word of the week. Actually, the idea of acceptance is one that’s been rattling around in my head for quite some time now. But this week, I’m really embracing it and giving it wings.


There’s this part of me that I’ve never liked. Hated, actually. For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. This “thing” has always followed me around like a black cloud. Even as a child, I’d torment myself with all sorts of dreadful worries: What if my parents don’t come home? Do I have cancer? Will someone break into my house and kidnap me from my bed? What if I never find love? What if I never have kids? What if I die before I get the chance to find love or have kids?

As I got older, that behavior persisted with the same level of intensity—well into my 20s and 30s. Now as I’m pushing 40 I have much of it under control thanks in large part to therapy, medication and some hard life lessons. But I’m still not where I’d like to be: I still worry about things outside of my control; I still occasionally experience debilitating panic attacks; I still doubt myself, often. Most days I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but when I have setbacks I beat myself up—big time.

Fact: I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder.

This notion has plagued me my whole life. It’s exhausting. And I’m tired of fighting against a reality that is.

So I’ve decided to do two things about it:
1. Keep trying to rein it in.
2. Accept myself for who I am today.

In the past, after I’d have a panic attack, I would eventually get to a point where I’d vow to never let it happen again. I would set my sights on that lofty goal and hold myself to it. Determined. But looking back, I realize that I was setting the bar way too high. As someone who’s spent a lifetime letting her anxious thoughts take control, pinky-swearing to kick this problem to the curb for good was simply not a promise I could keep; I was setting myself up for failure. And each time I’d succumb to “the monster,” I’d end up disappointed and angry at myself for being weak. That cycle repeated itself over and over again.

I am not doing that anymore. I have decided to cut myself some slack. I have decided to let myself off the hook. I have decided to give myself a warm, accepting embrace.

I will continue to seek out the path of calm; I will continue to look for ways to quiet my mind; I will continue to strive for emotional peace. But at the same time, I will accept the total package of me—anxiety and all. I will look within and remind myself that my anxiety is not the evil foe I believe it to be; it thinks it’s helping me. My panic attacks aren’t trying to pummel me to the ground with the force of a thousand giant wildebeests; they think they’re coming to my rescue. My reactive mind isn’t out to get me; it’s trying to protect me.

I need to make peace with that part of me. I need to look inside and forgive the inner workings of my anxious mind—not loath it. I need to stop trying to bully it; I need to stop letting it bully me. We need to coexist together. But at the same time, I will let my anxiety know that while I am accepting of it and choosing to love it as part of what makes me me, my goal is to, in time, give it more of a backseat role in my life.

I used to look inside and hate what I’d see. But now I choose to look inside with compassion, forgiveness and acceptance.

StephHeadshotSmallI find myself completely drawn in and connected to Stephanie’s subject matter over at I’m Still Learning.  I definitely suggest checking out Reminders for the Anxious Soul, On Being a Mom: Thanks for the Warning, People! and Two Truths and a Lie.

Stephanie is also the author of How to Eat Healthy Without Noticing: A Non-Dieters Guide to Eating Better.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest


  1. I’ve never before imagined the panic attacks to be coming to our rescue, but I like that idea of things. Good luck in your reflections. Compassion is certainly benefits from a liberal application. ~CatherineFa

    • Catherine, it certainly helps me to imagine the panic attack as an entity that is really trying to help. I like your word, “compassion.” Yes, it’s all about having compassion, not hatred, for those less than desirable parts of us.

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