If you’ve been told that you can heal from anxiety in a really short amount of time, then I’m afraid you’ve been lied to. The reality is entirely different to what these people offering you a quick fix often claim. From my own experience, it has taken me a couple of years for the healing process to happen.
Why did it take a long while for me? Because I had to unlearn a lot of things which kept me in the cycle of anxiety. I had to change my perspective on a number of things. I had to allow myself to fully trust that a panic attack wasn’t going to harm me. I had to really let go of this preconceived notion that anxiety was an enemy and monster tearing me apart.
I had to stop the habit of fighting my anxiety which I did for most of my life. This was another habitual behaviour that was hard to stop because it’s human nature to resist and fight off an unpleasant experience. This is the fight or flight response kicking in and doing it’s job. So, I had to go the other way and practice the behaviour of acceptance and allowance.
I had to stop fixating on anxiety which was a really hard habit to break. Especially when anxiety gets reinforced when we focus on it.
I also had to make changes to my diet in order to feel psychologically well. There are a number of things which make anxiety worse through stimulating the nervous system. Things like caffeine, too much alcohol and sugar were things I had to cut out in order to feel balanced.
Ever heard the saying that old habits die hard? This is so true, especially when it comes to breaking the habitual cycle of anxiety. If we’ve progammed our minds to be anxious through responding and behaving in a way that perpetuates it, and done this for such a long time, possibly all of our lives, then how on earth can we expect to break out of this habitual cycle so quickly? It just doesn’t add up.
This is not a quick process. It doesn’t take days or weeks. It takes more like months or even a year. It could even take you longer like it did myself. Don’t be discouraged by this though because that’s just how life works. Through what I teach and share, it will probably take you less time due to the fact that I’ve recently learnt new perspectives which contributes towards the healing process. It took me a long while to see that my approach towards things was actually stopping the healing process from happening. Now that I have these insights to share with you, it will definitely speed up the process.
However, don’t expect it to be days or weeks…It’s ridiculously unrealistic to expect to heal yourself so quickly. Most importantly, allow the process of recovery to happen naturally, it’s own time because it will if you let it. What really gets in the way and holds us back is our added pressure and expectations.
Again, don’t listen to people who tell you that anxiety desensitization can happen really quickly because that is a lie which makes people feel discouraged when reality hits them hard. For a start, we have to unlearn a lot of counterproductive behaviours, take in new and empowering insights and adopt new responses which defuse anxiety. Not only that, but we have to make them a part of our daily lives on a consistent basis through retraining our minds until the new attitudes, responses and behaviours become second nature. Until then, we have to be prepared to accept that this is a long term process, in fact I tell people it’s crucial that we adopt a long term perspective towards the healing process.
When you accept and understand that healing from anxiety is a long term process, you stop putting pressure on yourself to heal quickly. Putting pressure on ourselves is another way we feed anxiety. This is another habit that held me back for so long. When we hear that other people have healed really quickly, (depending on how honest they were) we start to feel like we must somehow be abnormal. This only makes us feel more and more discouraged and more and more like a f*ck up.
See what I mean when I say it takes time and perseverance to unlearn a lot of counterproductive habits? Comparing ourselves to other’s is another habit that needs to be broken.
You are not a f*ck up by the way. You are enough as you are and you have been doing your best with the current understanding that you have.
When it comes to honestly healing our condition through reassurance, acceptance, adopting a fearless attitude towards our panic attacks, stopping the habit of anxiety fixation, understanding the truth about fear and changing our focus, it still takes a lot of time for our nervous system to desensitise.
Not only does it take time for us to accept these new understandings and new behaviours, it’s also normal and expected to experience setbacks.
I had many setbacks during my path to healing. Setbacks are just a sign that there’s something we need to learn or that we have pushed ourselves too much too soon. It could also mean that we have fallen back into our old habits that bring the anxiety back to life. They are not meant to be feared and we are not supposed to get frustrated and beat ourselves up for having them.
I wouldn’t say setbacks delay the healing process, but I would say that our counterproductive response to a setback does. This is exactly what I did and this is definitely something that delayed the healing process. I would always respond to a setback with frustration and guilt.
Beating myself up was a terrible habit to get into as it only made me feel worse. I had to unlearn this behaviour of beating myself up through reminding myself of a new and empowered perspective towards setbacks. It wasn’t until I learnt to perceive setbacks differently that I could let go of the frustration and guilt. Once I adopted this perspective, setbacks no longer bothered me because I had this new understanding.
I just reminded myself of what a setback really was, accepted it’s presence and allowed it to pass in it’s own time. Paradoxically, because of this perspective I adopted, I stopped having setbacks. When we stop seeing something as bad, it longer has any reason to trouble us.
Whilst I can’t pretend that I enjoyed them, that would be madness, I didn’t fight them and I didn’t fear them. I just allowed them to happen whilst I focused all of my energy on the new behaviours and perspectives which I had learnt.
Do I still suffer from anxiety now?
Whilst I can confirm that I no longer have an anxiety disorder, I still experience anxiety from time to time, just like any other human. Through what I’ve learnt, I would say that I cannot ever fall back into the disorder because of what I now know about anxiety and panic. It would have to take a lot of unlearning to slip back to where I once was a few years ago.
I still have to watch what I allow into my body. Having caffeine and too much sugar upsets my balance so I minimise my intake. It’s the same with alcohol. I never get drunk anymore, I just have a couple of drinks from time to time if I fancy it. Taking care of myself physically allows me to remain in a good place psychologically.
I still get fearful over challenges that come into my life, I just no longer respond to the fear in a way which opens the trapdoor of the anxiety disorder. Very recently, I was even fearful of making my first YouTube video because it was a new thing for me. I also know that I will experience fear whenever I try anything else in my life which I perceive to be challenging and that’s perfectly okay. I know that fear is designed to keep me safe from danger. I now know that it has always had my back and always will. I just allow the fear to be there without wishing I shouldn’t be feeling it because that is such a destructive attitude to have. Because I allow it to be present inside of me, it passes through me without any trouble.
Whilst the challenges of life are not necessarily life threatening, fear will still be there if I perceive something to be out of my comfort zone and if I perceive something to be uncomfortable. The difference is, I’m no longer seeing this from a negative and counterproductive point of view. This allows me to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Once I’ve conquered that fear, I feel much more confident in myself, allowing me to press on from a calm and grounded state.
Knowledge is power. Adopting perspectives that take away our anxieties is power. Stick to the process of healing whether that’s through what I share with you, from elsewhere, or maybe a mixture of both. Whatever the case may be, the point is to be patient, persevere and trust the healing process will happen in it’s own time.
Until next time