A Bull In The China Shop

I grew up being told I was like a bull in a china shop. I had trouble reconciling this. I was able to do great things on the balance beam at school, I never seemed to break things in other people’s homes, and I was generally competent when trying new physical endeavors. Most times I felt in complete control of my body. How was it that at home, without a doubt, I broke things, failed at most physical endeavors, and was just generally quite spastic?

I began to really think about this about a year ago, when I caught a Myth Buster’s episode titled: Bull in a China Shop. Myth busters set up a “china shop”. There were three rows of shelves, each over 5 foot tall, each stocked with numerous pieces of china. They sent through a bull and watched in awe as he carefully navigated each row, avoiding all shelving. Next they needed to find out if this was just an extremely cautious bull, so they sent through 2 bulls, with the same result. I believe they got up to 4 bulls before a single piece of china was broken!

While I loved watching this, it did nothing to change my own feeling of being spastic. Even though I have broken few things in my adult life, every time I do break, drop, or knock over something, my thought process goes like this: “See. You’re a bull in a china shop. Dummy. What is wrong with you?”.

Over the past few weeks though, I’ve made a discovery. Aside from the occasional accident, which happen to everyone, there are times that I am the proverbial bull in a china shop!  Whenever I feel anxious I knock things over, I stumble, I drop things, and I am totally spastic!

On the average day, I cautiously go about my life with little wreckage. However, when anxiety sets in, I no longer have control over my body, and sure enough, all hell break loose. When I become anxious I experience a well-known symptom of anxiety – muscle contractions. The more anxious I get, the more aware I become of my muscle contractions. The more aware I am of my muscle contraction, the more my anxiety increases! The end result is that I start dropping things, knocking things over, and being generally physically incompetent. This is an issue, because usually when I’m anxious it is because I’m in a social situation, which means there are witnesses to my wreckage, which of course increases my anxiety, which leads to more breakage, etc. etc.

Now that I’m aware of the connection I’ll…….I don’t know what I’ll do.  If I can use this information to minimize the damage of my anxiety attacks, I will.  Yoga decreases the likeliness of anxiety attacks, but it also places me in social situations in which I’m more likely to experience anxiety.  Quite the paradox.

In the meantime, if you meet me and I appear tense, look out – the bull might be out!

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