Hi, my name is Levente Sabo. Thank you for readnig my blog!
Since you clicked this page, you probably want to find out a little bit about me.
But before I tell you who I am, let me tell you who I’m not.
I’m not a qualified medical professional.
And I’m not an expert. I’m not a guru. I don’t claim that I have all the answers – but I know that you do.
So then what am I?
As Allison Sage eloquently put it:
“I’m not a sage on the stage; I’m just a guide on the side.”
More than anything, I’m an ordinary person just like you. The only thing that makes me even remotely interesting is the fact that I’ve lived most of my life in a constant struggle with anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, travel anxiety, flight anxiety, driving anxiety; the list goes on and on.
It's been a rough journey so far. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.
All the content that I share with you on this website comes from several years of personal experience.
In addition to that, I’ve spent long years researching the biology of stress and the psychology of anxiety.
I’ve tried my best to at least learn to control my anxiety issues because as my good childhood friend and mentor Kelly brazenly observed:
“You are going nowhere in life and you're getting there fast.”
If I wanted a career, a family and good health, I had choice but to tackle my anxiety issues had on.
And I did.
Have I succeeded?
Well, I’m going to be honest with you: I haven’t eliminated anxiety from my life.
There, I’ve said it.
Although I might add that I’ve never wanted to eliminate it.
I think that anxiety can have a LOT of benefits that I just didn’t want to throw away for good.
Instead, I wanted to trim the bad parts, get rid of all the things that were negative and keep the parts that I considered valuable.
So what I’ve done is, I have tamed my anxiety.
Instead of eliminating it I have done something better. I have turned anxiety into a powerful ally in life.
By the way, I think anybody who says that you can just get rid of your anxiety once and for all is lying to you and you should stop listening to them.
They don’t know what they’re talking about.
In my experience, you can’t just wipe your mind clean of anxiety, that’s not how the biology of stress works.
You can however, completely change the way you think about anxiety and “tame it.”
I know it sounds counter-intuitive but bear with me for a few minutes here. You can turn anxiety into your biggest ally. I firmly believe that anxiety can benefit you greatly if you understand why it’s happening to you, what it’s doing to you and how you can control it.
So if you came here hoping that I’ll wave my magic wand and make anxiety disappear from your life forever, I’m sorry to disappoint you but no one will be able to do that for you, not even me.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to embark on a personal journey where you’ll get to know yourself a little better and learn to control your anxiety day by day, then I invite you to join me on this journey.
The 3 Rules of My Anxiety Journey
Before I tell you a little about my personal background, let me quickly lay down the framework of my anxiety journey.
I have 3 principles when it comes to taming anxiety that I promised myself to follow no matter what. These are:
Rule #1: Don’t Kill It, Tame It
My first self-imposed rule is probably the most counter-intuitive.
Many people out there swear that they know the magic bullet to remove anxiety from your life once and for all. I think that’s an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.
And I have yet to see the evidence that would persuade me that they can in fact eliminate anxiety from my life once and for all.
(Again, not that I'd want that but more about it later.)
Second, anxiety is natural. It’s a natural stress response of my body that’s been driven into overdrive by my unique circumstances in life.
I don’t know about you, but eliminating a natural mechanism in my body seems unrealistic and possibly damaging.
I would much rather restore the balance of my stress response instead and learn to control my anxiety.
And thirdly, eliminating anxiety makes no sense to me.
Let me explain why.
Imagine that you’re being hunted by a mountain lion all day long. There’s that one mountain lion that’s been hunting you all of your life. Whenever you step outside your home, he’s right there waiting for you, ready to ambush you and chase you down the street until you’re out of breath.
What can you do to save yourself?
Well, you’ve tried hiding, but it doesn’t work.
You’ve tried outrunning them, but they’re darn fast and you always tire before they do.
Yuo realize that you only have 2 options left:
1.You can turn around and try to kill the mountain lion. (Good luck with that.)
2.Or you can decide to tame it. You can try to make it into a companion.
To me the second option sounds a lot more reasonable. And I think it’s a lot more human, too.
Our ancestors didn’t just kill the wolves that they encountered in the wilderness; they tamed them and made them into loyal companions. And I'm thankful for that.
I think it makes more sense to learn to control anxiety than to eliminate it once and for all.
Rule #2: Stay 100% Natural
I promised myself that I would tame anxiety without the help of taking any pills.
Now, this was no way easy. I can’t tell you how many times I was on the verge of giving up on this one.
Anxiety can beat you to the ground and keep you there permanently if you let it. And sometimes you’d be willing to sell your soul to the devil just to get back up.
But I kept reminding myself that I want my battle with anxiety to be between “it” and me. If I win, I want to win because of my own personal efforts. I don’t want to have to credit chemical substances for managing my anxiety.
I wanted to credit myself and myself alone. I wanted to own my success and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it had been with the help of drugs.
I guess there was a lot of pride involved in me deciding that I didn’t want to go down the medicine route but for me it just felt right and I haven't regretted it yet.
Rule #3: No Therapy
And finally, I swore myself not to rely on therapy.
This rule kind of came about as an accident.
At first I just didn’t feel comfortable sharing the story of my anxiety with a complete stranger.
I felt exposed and vulnerable in a very profound way.
It was probably my social anxiety pulling strings in the back of my mind but I ended up shying away from therapy for a long time.
Later on, as I developed more and more control over my shyness, I found another reason to keep up with this rule:
I didn’t want to be treated as something that needs to be fixed.
The one thing that I cannot stand about therapy is the idea that I’m sick.
It freaks me out on a visceral level to accept that just because I’m having issues with anxiety, I’m somehow broken or not normal.
I firmly believe that anxiety is a natural biological mechanism that is as normal as it gets.
I believe that people struggling with anxiety don’t need to be fixed because they’re not broken to begin with.
In fact, I believe that fellow anxiety warriors all have the answer to their problems buried deep within themselves. All they need is help in drawing out those answers and applying them to their lives.
And that has been my approach from the very beginning. I didn’t want to start a conversation that assumed that I was abnormal and somehow dysfunctional.
I didn’t want to deal with feelings of shame, self-doubt and ruthless self-criticism. I didn’t want to become my own enemy by constantly blaming myself for my anxiety.
I needed to be my own ally in this battle and I wanted to come from a place of pride and confidence.
From day one, I insisted on treating myself as a healthy, normal human being whose anxiety levels were a bit out of the ordinary. But other than that I refused to believe that anything was fundamentally wrong with me.
And I was very adamant about it. I knew that this mindset was key to taming my anxiety and preserving my personal integrity.
If you’re still reading this, then I think you want to hear a little bit about what my personal anxiety journey has been like.
So let me tell you a little bit about myself.
Changing Countries, Changing Cultures
I was born in Transylvania, Romania. Transylvania is that mountainous patch of land in Central Europe where the myth of Dracula comes from.
At the age of 3 my mom divorced my dad and the two of us moved to Hungary, which is the country on the Western border of Romania.
We left behind all our family, all our friends and basically everybody we knew and moved to a brand new country where we knew literally no one.
That was a very stressful time in my life and I’m 100% sure that that’s when my deep-seated insecurities, my shyness and my general anxiety started.
For example, I remember in nursery school other kids kept pointing out some of the weird words I used. They told me how to say things “correctly” and how to behave “normally.”
Well, normally according to them, but since I was living in their country now, I had to discard my old identity and adopt theirs.
But being labeled “weird,” “incorrect” and “abnormal” for no other reason than the culture that I had been brought up in left a deep mark on my personality.
That’s probably how my social anxiety started.
At the age of 3 I learned what it’s like to be self-conscious in social situations. I learned to watch my words and to expect criticism, judgment and scrutiny from others.
“Money is The Root of All Evil” – Mark Twain
So very early on in life I faced the challenge of finding my place in a new country, blending in with new people and a having financial situation that was much worse than what I was used to at home.
Soon after we arrived in Hungary, my mom took the first menial job she was able to find to quickly start earning an income.
She ended up working at a small cracker manufacturer for minimum wage.
What that meant for me as a kid was that we didn’t have a lot of money. And as much as I wanted to ignore this fact, it started being a problem soon after I entered elementary school and started comparing myself with other kids.
I quickly learned that I was one of poorest kids in the class. There were perhaps one or two kids that had a similar money situation to me but for the most part, my classmates were better off financially.
And other kids could tell that just by looking at me. I didn’t have nice clothes, mine were generally second-hand. And I just wasn’t as well cared for as other kids as my mom didn’t have time to groom me every morning.
My appearance was screaming “poor” and it was painfully humiliating.
In 5th grade at Christmas, I remember that my homeroom teachers had to pick the 2 poorest kids in the class and give them free theater tickets as a gift. This was a social program in my school and every class had to do this.
Well, in my class I made the list.
I was officially one of the poorest kids in my class. As if I needed them to rub it in my face like that. Oh, and yeah, they announced this in front of the whole class. I still remember how devastated I was that day.
All my best efforts at pretending that I wasn’t as broke as I looked had been in vain.
And the worst part was that I had to be thankful. My anger and my frustration was unjustified because all the teachers were trying to do was help me and the theater tickets were a really nice Christmas gift…
Without even realizing, teachers at my elementary school stigmatized me for several years to come.
“Nothing is Quite as Cruel as a Child” – Sonata Arctica: Shamandalie
A few years after we had moved to Hungary, my mom moved in with my step dad.
My step dad was suffering from muscular dystrophy, which meant that he had to live his life in a wheelchair.
I feel bad about admitting it but in elementary school I often felt jealous of other kids that had healthy dads that could support them. I often felt miserable that my dad couldn’t stand on his own two legs and that instead of him supporting me, it was the other way around. I had to help him and support him every day.
I remember that whenever he came to pick me up after school, I would feel embarrassed and different.
It didn’t help that my classmates would stare at us and a few of them even whispered something to their parents as we left school trying to act all cool and indifferent to the lingering looks and the curious faces contorted in pity.
It took several years for me to learn to deal with the reaction of other kids when they first saw me with my step dad.
And then it took another couple of years to overcome my own visceral reaction to his condition.
Social Anxiety Became Second Nature
As I grew up, social anxiety became second nature to me.
For a very long time I didn’t even realize that it was social anxiety.
I mean I was shy, I was very nervous when I had to talk to people. I avoided social events from as early on as elementary school.
Field trips? No, thanks. Parties? Never went to one. Academic competitions? Nope.
I had incredibly low self-esteem. I mean I had my first girlfriend at the age of 22. That’s how scared I was of approaching women before that.
It took me a while to realize that “being quiet,” “withdrawn” and socially awkward wasn’t just "who I was."
No, there was something bigger, something more sinister working in the back of my mind whispering those belittling thoughts in my head and stealing my self-esteem.
My Big Insight
My first breakthrough was in high school, when I realizing that I wasn’t simply an introverted person.
It was in a biology class that I first learned about the biology of stress and anxiety and I immediately realized that unlike math and all the rest of the subjects I had to study, that piece of knowledge was incredibly relevant to me.
I felt hungry for more.
So I went to the library and I went on YouTube and I started researching scientists who were able to explain what stress is and how it impacts our lives.
I got familiar with Dr. Gabor Mate, the renowned speaker and physician, the amazing Robert Sapolsky, Daniel Goleman and many others who really helped me understand what anxiety is and what was happening to me.
Ever since that, I've been researching everything that has to do with anxiety with a burning passion.
I saw it as the key to finally get back in control of my social life.
The Purpose of This Blog
The reason I started this blog was to document my journey of taming anxiety.
I realized that my research and my personal experience could benefit others, so why not share it on the internet?
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