Using Techniques to Stop Anxiety Rarely Works
We can try all of the techniques available to us, and yet we still find that something is not quite right. That something is missing.
The reason why applying techniques to overcome anxiety rarely works is because we are making anxiety into something which needs to be overcome. Something that we need to run away from and never face. Whilst on the surface, using techniques to overcome anxiety might seem like a smart and logical idea, really all it’s doing is giving off the impression that anxiety is bad and is something that needs to be avoided. What message is our brain going to get from this? More fear.
We can try positive thinking to replace our negative thoughts, but all this is doing is giving off the impression that negative thinking is inherently bad and is something that we need to run away from. Again, our brain is watching our behaviours. It will sense that running away from something means danger. Danger equates to the activation of anxiety.
Another reason why trying to think positive instead of anxious is futile is because we can’t stop our anxious thinking through effort and distraction. It’s like telling yourself to stop breathing. Our mind is designed to think. It’s a thinking machine. We have no conscious control over what thought decides to pop up in our heads. The only thing we control is how we decide to respond. If everyone knew this, there would be less self-created suffering.
The main reason why trying to stop anxiety through the use of techniques fails is because anxiety is created by our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is something which is completely outside of our conscious control. This is why acceptance and flowing in the same direction as the uncontrollable stream of anxiety is crucial to healing. Whenever we go against our anxiety through conscious will, we create inner conflict which leads to heightened anxiety.
Get Out of The Seeking and Fixing Mentality
Stay away from forums. Stay away from researching all the ways in which you can eliminate anxiety. Stop seeking quick fixes to eliminate anxiety. Anxiety cannot be eliminated because it is a self created condition. All of this seeking and fixing just serves to keep the self-created anxiety in place.
When we stop doing the things which encourage the perpetuation of more anxiety, our brain will get the message that there is nothing to fear and nothing to fix. In time, this will bring our anxiety levels down and switch off the inappropriate part of anxiety. This doesn’t happen instantly though. It happens with a lot of practice and time.
The more you think there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed, the more likely it is you’ll feed your mind with all sorts of confusing and conflicting information. These behaviours just indicate that there is something that we need to overcome. Through the behaviour of seeking, we are reaffirming to our brain that there is something we need to be eliminated. The brain will translate this as a problem.
Stop Running Away From Your Anxiety
We don’t need to run from anxiety. The reason why we don’t need to run is because running is a futile exercise. Like I said a second ago, anxiety is self-created. it will follow us wherever we go until we stop running from it. My childhood, teenage years and life up until recently could be summed up by trying to outrun my anxiety. Whenever I thought I was out of sight, it would catch up to me.
This made me feel like all hope was lost because I honestly believed that trying to escape from anxiety was the solution. I assumed that I wasn’t trying harder enough. This was probably through the influence of well-meaning people who would tell me to stop thinking about it. “Just put it out of your mind” and “try harder” they would say. The more I tried putting anxiety out of my mind, the longer it stayed.
If we want the anxiety switch in our brain to switch it off then we can’t run away from anxiety. All this does is give off the impression that we need to get away from a danger. We are literally feeding back the message to our brain that this level of anxiety is necessary due to our behaviour. The alarm bells will stay on if we emulate any behaviour which is associated with the fight or flight. In this case, running!
All of these behaviours which I’ve mentioned above, only serve to keep the fight or flight response activated. Here’s how we switch off the anxiety.
Say Yes to Anxiety
What helped me to end this constant torment of running from anxiety and not getting anywhere was turning in the other direction and running towards it. You can’t win the fight. You can’t outrun the anxiety. No matter how hard you try and run away from it, it will always catch up with you eventually. Knock down the wall of fleeing and resistance and let the waves of anxiety flood in.
I don’t mean deliberately make yourself anxious when you are feeling fine. I mean give up the fight when you’re in the midst of anxiety. Let it wash over you. Don’t turn the other way. Don’t make any attempt to block the anxiety out of your mind. Open the door for it and let it in.
Be okay with the anxiety being there forever. This is what true acceptance really is. A misunderstanding of acceptance happens when people accept with the intention of getting rid of their anxiety. But this mentality is in itself a form of non-acceptance.
Acceptance never works when you make it your attention to stop feeling anxious. When you no longer care about the anxiety being there and live from a place as if you have chosen to feel this anxiety, as if you want to feel anxiety, then and only then will acceptance do it’s job.
Go Do Something Else… Really!
One of the things you might be aware of as an anxiety sufferer is that you’re very good at being anxious. Heck, I was a master at being anxious and you probably are too. The way to become a master at anything in life is to live and breathe that something. Whether that’s learning to master tennis or piano. The same can be said about anxiety. Now of course we don’t intentionally become masters at being anxious.
We do this through our behaviours and responses. Whenever we spend our time focusing on anxiety we are reinforcing the anxiety because anxiety breeds more of the same thing. You’ve heard me say this many times already but whatever we focus on, we empower. This is one of the most important things to know when it comes to freeing yourself from anxiety.
Become a master at something else. Make sure whatever you do takes up the majority of your time so you don’t have the time and space to practice being masterful at anxiety.
Whatever you do though, do not associate your mastery activity with anything to do with anxiety. You are not learning to play the piano because you want to rid yourself of anxiety. Otherwise you’ll be playing piano in resistance mode with too much expectation and pressure on yourself. You are learning to play piano because you find it enjoyable, stimulating and creatively satisfying… nothing more.
I trust that you can find some benefit in this. If you have any questions or need any help in relation to anxiety, then feel free to message me at email@example.com
What I’ve written here was influenced by this article: https://bit.ly/2VwpJEX
I highly, highly recommend reading this article because it is something I would have loved to read during my suffering.
Until next time.