“What I’ve learnt from my personal experience is that trying to get back to a state of emotional harmony whilst experiencing emotional suffering, creates more emotional suffering.” – Me
Most people see escaping from their anxiety as a desirable thing. “If only I knew how to escape from my anxiety, I would be free of it by now.” If there was one thing that kept me in the cycle of anxiety more than anything else, apart from fearing it, it would have to be trying to escape from anxiety.
Trying to escape from anxiety is the worst thing we could possibly do. Our logical mind is telling us that we need to stop feeling anxious and so the only way to do this is to try and escape from our inner state. However, what you’ve probably come to realise by now is that our logical side doesn’t really produce the best results when it comes to healing our anxiety. If it did then things like talking about how we feel and fighting it would work, but they don’t.
Trying to escape from anxiety amplifies our suffering. It’s like pouring fuel onto a fire with the intention of putting it out. Not going to happen, is it? Why? Because more fuel gives the fire life.
Wondebro, a YouTuber who shares great advice when it comes to healing anxiety, says the desire to stop it, and the desire to escape anxiety, gives you more of the feelings you are trying to escape from.
This is so true because whatever we fight against just gets stronger. Whatever we resist, persists.
When we are trying to escape from anxiety, we are giving off the impression that the anxiety is a threat. It’s getting the message that we are trying to escape and run away from our emotional suffering. So, not only will our brain perceive anxiety to be dangerous, it will do what it normally does when it believes we are under threat – activate the fight or flight response.
How many times have you felt worse when you’ve tried to escape from your anxiety or panic attacks? How many times have you thought your life was coming to an end when you try and escape from it?
The reason why we are feeling this way when we look for an internal escape is because we going against our anxiety. As Eckhart Tolle said: Can you feel how painful it is to internally stand in opposition to what is? When we are creating inner conflict with our current emotional state, it can only lead to one thing… more inner conflict. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle and it’s a living hell when we try to escape from it.
Looking back now, the desire to escape from anxiety was what made the anxiety seem a lot worse than it actually was. How do I know this to be true? Because when I stopped trying to escape from it, a lot of my anxiety went down dramatically. Ever heard the saying “if feels as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders?” This is exactly how it feels when we stop pouring more fuel onto the fire, when we stop desiring to escape from anxiety.
I know it seems normal to want to escape from our anxious state and crazy to not want to. After all, who in their right minds wants to keep a hold of their anxiety? Who actually wants to experience these unpleasant sensations and disturbing thoughts on a daily basis which, when approached in the wrong way, can create a living nightmare? Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to not want to be anxious, telling our minds this won’t make any difference. In fact, it will only aggravate our anxiety, as I’m sure you know by now.
“It is your desperation to rid yourself of how you feel that keeps your anxiety alive.” – Paul David, A Life At Last
So, you have to fully trust this approach and the only way you can do this is through your own experience.
To really feel this as truth in your experience, you can try a little experiment. Next time you feel anxious or panicky, instead of trying to escape from how you’re feeling, just stop trying to. Remind yourself that the attempt to escape from anxiety creates more anxiety. Keep reminding yourself of this because it is so important. It’s like a fire extinguisher button that you have access to at any moment when you remember to remind yourself. Fully allow the anxiety to be there and manifest in whatever way it desires. When we give anxiety full permission to move through us, we don’t give it any more reason to trouble as because the suffering was never caused by the anxiety, it was caused by your refusal to allow it to be.
Another way you can really melt away the tension and emotional pain through trying to escape from it, is to say something like: I should be feeling this way or I choose to feel this way. When you live as if you have chosen to feel a particular way, you transmute the resistance into inner peace. You transmute anxiety into a warming embrace of surrender and empowerment.
If you really want to know for certain that escaping our anxiety keeps us trapped is to make an effort to try and escape from it. See how it feels when you try and get out of how you’re feeling, when you try to push the feelings away or think yourself out of your anxious state.
“You don’t need to be concerned with anxiety disappearing forever. Once you bring acceptance and understanding to the experience of anxiety, it stops haunting you.” – Dr Gail Brenner
When we are trying to escape from our current emotional state (anxiety), we are creating friction with the present moment and as a result of this, we will experience more tension and stress. Whenever I tried to escape from how I was feeling, I would feel a burning sensation around my neck and chest area. Maybe this is why the metaphor of ‘pouring more fuel onto a fire makes it worse’ came into existence because it literally feels as if we are turning up the heat.
How would it feel if you no longer had any urge to escape? How would it feel if you said yes to your anxiety rather than saying “no, I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I need to escape from this”.
What if, through personal experience, I told you that making it your intention to recover from anxiety and panic attacks is what’s actually giving more fuel to the anxiety? I know how this sounds. If I was told the same thing, I would think the person telling me this was crazy. What you have to realise is that this creates the same feeling state as trying to escape. It creates tension and stress. It’s like pulling on the other end of the rope of the anxiety.
Completely surrender to your desire for escape. Fully allow your anxiety to be there without trying to get over it, or trying to stop it. See what happens. When I stopped adding more fuel to the fire of anxiety, I started to feel a warm and tingly sensation flowing through my body. I believe this is because we are allowing the anxiety to flow through us without getting caught up in it. When we stop fighting our anxiety, our mind and body has a chance to heal. What we accept, we transmute into peace.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve just written, feel free to ask me by leaving a comment.
Until next time