CENTER YOURSELF THROUGH GRATITUDE

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KEMELY CASTRO

CREATOR OF GRATITUDE

RETAIL INNOVATION AT L'OREAL

Kemely is my beautiful fiancé and life partner. She's usually the spectator when we do interviews but today she decided to be in front of the camera. Anxiety is something that runs in her family and although I hate seeing how it affects her on a day to day, I'm happy that she decided to share her story because it's one that many people who suffer from anxiety should hear.

WHAT GIVES YOU ANXIETY ON A DAILY BASIS?

I think I have a more severe form of anxiety than most people do. I get regular anxiety when I feel that something is not going to go right or not go the way that I want it to. But I think for me it's more of a generalized form of anxiety. I can have a great day and still come home and have really really bad anxiety. In my case, it's hereditary. Both my mom and dad's side of the family have really bad issues with anxiety. My brother has really bad anxiety as well. So for us it's a little more difficult to keep under control because unlike a logical fear of taking a test and not passing, our anxiety really stems from an illogical place. It's feeling that you have control over life or over circumstances that you really don't have control over. 

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH ANXIETY?

I made a conscious decision to not take medication for my anxiety. Sometimes I have good days where I'm fine and sometimes I have a week where every single day I wake up short of breath. Sometimes anxiety can affect you so much that it's crippling. I really feel that I'm able to control it with my mind because it's a very mental thing. I work every single day in learning how to deal with it and learning how to calm myself down and bring my mind to a place that is more present I think. I really feel that there's nothing healthier for a person than to have gratitude and to be grateful for what you have. That's actually something that helps me a lot. When I have my worst days with my anxiety, I try to think about others who are going through so much worse in the world. That helps ground me a little bit and then I start to think "why am I anxious?" I have a conversation with myself because there is no reason for me to be anxious at the moment. If there is a reason, I try to come up with a solution. It doesn't always work but it's always going to be a work in progress. I think one of the most crippling things when you have anxiety is to feel like you're alone because you literally feel like you're stuck in this black hole and you can feel very alone.

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"Pain and suffering is part of life and we can't numb ourselves from that."

DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON THAT YOU GET ANXIETY AND YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT REASON IS?

Maybe, yea. I think sometimes the reason is just a deeper seeded reason. You know when you go to a therapist and they ask, "how was your childhood like?" Well a lot of things come from your childhood you know. A lot of your issues or ways of thinking come from your parents or lack thereof or your relationships with your family or things that happened when you were younger and susceptible to a lot of things. Those things are deep rooted and then they end up affecting you as an adult. I can expand more on that but to go back to the feeling of being alone, I think a lot of times when you're having really bad anxiety [like so bad that you're having a panic attack], you feel like you're going crazy and no one will understand you. I think it's dangerous because anxiety can very often become depression. You have to snap out of it because you're not alone. There are so many people who deal with anxiety and that's why it's so important to have the conversation because people who suffer from it need to hear that other people are suffering from it so they don't feel like they're crazy. 

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT IF YOU KEEP DEALING WITH ANXIETY THE SAME WAY THAT YOU'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANXIETY ANYMORE?

I don't think I'm never not going to have anxiety. Just because a lot of where my anxiety comes from is very deep rooted. I hope that as I get older, I find more and more tools to deal with it. There's always going to be situations that I go through in life that aren't easy. Whether I go through a tragedy or lose someone in life, those things will trigger my anxieties and fear of something going wrong and then something does go wrong. But I think as I've gotten older, I've found better tools to deal with it. Again, it's a mind-state. The mind is a powerful thing but we have to also realize that the mind can deceive you. Just because you're afraid of certain things, it doesn't mean they're there. It's more a matter of you making yourself afraid of something.

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"My goal is to deal with negative situations, negative emotions and pain in a natural way."

DO YOU EVER TRY TO CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT YOU DON'T HAVE ANXIETY IN THE MOMENTS WHERE YOU DO?

No because I think that would be living a lie and not accepting what was there. I understand how that could be a method because it is a very mental thing. But personally I've never tried that. When I'm having anxiety I just think about what's making me anxious. I'll go back and think about my day and my week. What makes me feel better is putting my anxiety on an actual situation. For some reason I get relief when I play a situation in my head and find my trigger. It makes me feel like I'm not completely insane. That's what relieves me at the moment.

SO THAT'S A DECISION YOU'RE MAKING TO TRY TO FIGURE THAT OUT INSTEAD OF BEING PRESENT.

Well I think it's part of me trying to be present because once I find something that in my mind may have been a trigger, I'm able to move on. There are situations like you said, that I don't find a reason. So what happens is that I want to blame it on something. To be frank, you and I have been through this where sometimes, I blame it on you. Then I think If I can't find the reason behind why I'm anxious then something is happening around me that I'm not seeing. 

I WONDER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU STOPPED LOOKING FOR TRIGGERS BECAUSE IT'S A HABIT RIGHT NOW. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO TO MAYBE FEEL BETTER BUT IN ALL REALITY, DOING THE SAME THING CAN MAKE YOU FEEL WORSE. 

Yea and it's a constant exercise that I practice - to be present. Gratitude is one of the ways. Putting this need to always find a reason of why I'm feeling a certain way and if I don't find it, I blame somebody. For me it's just to remind myself that I'm so lucky. Stop trying to find something wrong with your life! That's one of the biggest issues that I have. No matter how successful I am or how great things are going, I have to find something wrong. If don't find it, I'm expecting it. While I don't have it right now, that means it's coming soon. So when I take a moment and think about all the things I should be grateful for, that really helps in centering me.

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"STOP TRYING TO FIND SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE!"

DO YOU LOVE YOURSELF?

Um yes. I feel like I love myself but I feel like there are days where I'm not my favorite person in the entire world. I think it's a process. I think having a relationship with yourself is just like having a relationship with someone else. Sometimes I think I'm the shit because I did this, I'm so smart, I'm so pretty, I'm so creative and you have a day where you're loving yourself. Then there's days when you're incredibly hard on yourself. Sometimes I really don't like the things that I did or said and It's always going to be a work in progress for me. It's ok if I don't always love the person who I am but I think my goal is to one day look back when I'm older and be proud of what I was able to accomplish. One of the things I've been working on is accepting the fact that I'm not perfect. It's been really hard to accept that because I've been raised to strive for perfection. When I fully accept the fact that I'm not perfect, I'll have better days and a better relationship with myself.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO PEOPLE ON HOW TO LIVE A MORE CREATIVE AND MEANINGFUL LIFE?

My advice, as corny as it sounds is to just follow your heart. What's meaningful to you may seem so not meaningful to somebody else. Follow what's meaningful to you and drown out the noise. In terms of a creative life...that's interesting because we had a conversation recently and I thought that certain people aren't creative because when I think of creativity I think of a photographer, an artist or somebody who sees things in a certain way. But when you put creative and meaningful together it changes my perspective because creative can mean finding a mean to an end. Just using creative tactics to get your goals accomplished. That doesn't mean that you have to be an artist per say, but creative in the way that you get things done. So I think that there is no better way to do that than to follow your own voice.

Watch the full interview here: