When Anxiety Podcasts Become Crutches
When I was in the early stages of my recovery, I carried Claire Weekes audio with me EVERYWHERE I went. I had CDs in every car I owned, and had mp3 audio files of Dr. Weekes loaded into my iPod (yes, there were iPods back then), ready to listen whenever things got difficult for me. I realized that while some of what Dr. Weekes was saying was useful from a guidance and instructional point of view, I was primarily using her as a soothing and rescue person.
Hearing her voice made me feel safer and calmed me down, but when I discovered that I refused to do challenging things without having her audio files available, I knew that listening to her had become a crutch in my recovery and I had to work hard to phase that out. I’m glad I did. It helped me learn that I was enough on my own.
I love Dr. Weekes. She’s one of my professional heroes. But in the end, she was not saving me because I never needed saving. I needed to learn that on my own, so I had to stop listening to her as a way to “get through” anxious moments.
In the early days of recovery, anything you can grasp onto that gets you off the sofa, out the door and moving forward is fair game. If you find that listening to my podcast, my audiobooks, or just the sound of my voice is helping to engage you in the recovery process and get you moving, then I am happy to play that role for you and even honored that you would think of using my work in that way. Most people start this way. It’s really OK. Use what you need to use to break the stalemate and get you pointed in a more productive direction!
As time goes on and we progress in recovery, we have to start leaving those safety tools and rituals behind. Often we do this little by little as our sense of competence and confidence begins to grow. Sometimes we are not even aware that we’re using safety or soothing tools for a while. Only progress reveals this to us. We all operate on our own timeline in this respect. But in general, as you get down the road and closer to recovery, it is important that you work to drop ALL of your safety tools and soothing rituals. That may include listening to my podcast or others like it when afraid. If my voice is a soothing or safety tool for you, at some point you must leave that behind and face that fear on your own.
The ultimate lesson in recovery is that we are capable by ourselves. When we learn that WE are doing it – not the mints, oils, meds, podcasts, audiobooks, or safe people – then we win this war. We only fully learn this lesson when we drop all that stuff on the floor and face what we fear without our usual shields, this podcast included.
This is not to say that podcasts like mine and other similar content become useless. I would hope that I can continue to educate, inform, and empower you. I endeavor to connect you with a community that shares your experience and your struggle that can cheer for you while you do the heavy lifting of recovery. It is my hope that the content I create remains useful through all stages of recovery. But in the end, the happiest day for someone like me is the day you stop listening completely and unfollow me on social media because it means you have learned the core lesson and don’t need me any more. Dropping the podcast as a safety device is one step in that direction.
So next time things are getting dicey and you want to “just pop in a podcast to get you through”, stop for a second. Imagine what would happen if you didn’t do that? Would you still meet the challenge directly in front of you?
I know you would.
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