Anxiety can be difficult, life-altering and utterly devastating. An ugly mind trap leading to all kinds of phobias, isolation, and depression. For most of my life, I’ve fought anxiety. Needless to say, I never won the war… rarely ever even a battle at that. After years of searching for answers, I began to understand anxiety for the first time. Now when I look back at all the days wasted, I just shake my head.. I had it all wrong. Even though I’ve read about this type of approach before, I never gave it the opportunity I should have in the past. I was stuck in a position where I didn’t think anything would be able to help me. But hey, when in doubt.. test it out. I mean something had to change right? So I finally listened to the advice that has been in front of me this whole time. I gave up the fight and called a truce with anxiety.
I discovered the intentions behind anxiety are pure. My mind was blown. How could this be true? Anxiety is not my enemy? it’s meant to help me? We as humans have relied on anxiety to survive for a countless number of years. Anxiety is a natural survival mechanism. OK, now I’m perplexed. The very thing that is killing me is actually a survival mechanism? Ironic. Oh, wait don’t forget, almost every symptom has a useful purpose and explanation too, that is if we were actually faced with real danger of course. fortunately, in today’s society… these life and death threats are not so common. So the need for these constant anxious feelings is unnecessary.
I found this is where the problem lies. When we get anxious but find no threat present. Our minds spin uncontrollably searching for danger. When there is no outside threat we begin to create them in our heads (here comes all the crazy disturbing thoughts). Fear and disgust from these intrusive thoughts feeds the anxiety. The downward spiral is in full effect. Panic begins to flood the mind with more fear. The fear then feeds back into the anxious feelings. They grow stronger and induce more panic. This is one of the many unforgiving cycles of anxiety that I became so familiar with.
Fear is the sole contributor that escalates anxiety to a panic level. The fear of anxiety is what makes us feel like we are being tortured by our own brains. When we fear something, we empower the very thing that is feared. The sooner you learn to alter the way you view anxiety, you will realize it’s on the same team. Prove to yourself there is nothing to be afraid of. The key is to understand and accept anxiety. Easier said than done of course. I found I had to be expectant and welcoming. Robbing anxiety of the element of surprise. If you expect the anxious feelings, you won’t be suddenly overwhelmed and driven into panic as easily. Also, you won’t be caught off guard this way.. no surprises. When welcoming anxiety with open arms, you are accepting it. When accepting anxiety for what it is you gain leverage and power (again, easier said than done).
Mentally anxiety is determined based on how it’s perceived. Many people who don’t have issues with anxiety often view these feelings as excitement. Those of us that do struggle, usually associate these feelings with fear. Fear of choking to death. Afraid we might have a heart attack or pass out. Worried about vomiting in front of everyone (or on them). The list goes on and on. Ashamed of the humiliation that could be brought on by these anxious feelings. This shame and fear are toxic to the mind. It’s what causes us progress further into panic and prolongs the anxious feelings. Always remember that these symptoms have never killed you in the past. Even though it feels like they might they won’t. You will always make it through to the light. Perspective is everything.
No matter how tough your situation is. No matter how much control anxiety has on your life, you can always reverse this power struggle. Call a truce to the war being fought in your mind. Be wise to anxiety. Accept, welcome and make peace.