Trying to get rid of anxiety gives you more anxiety
From someone who has spent the majority of their life trying to get rid of anxiety, I’m telling you that you will be better off when you stop making an effort to rid yourself of anxiety.
I understand if this doesn’t make sense to you because if you’ve suffered from anxiety for most of your life, then you will be in a desperate state of mind where you’ll so badly want the anxiety to be gone.
What if I told you that more suffering is created when we get into the mindset of wanting the anxiety to be gone? I know this goes against everything you’ve heard before because there are so many programs out there which all include techniques and strategies that are all about getting rid of anxiety.
I’m sure you’ve heard some people say that anxiety is not acceptable to experience. What usually happens when we hear this? We usually panic when someone says we shouldn’t be anxious, then we end up getting into this state of resistance where we do all we can to fight our anxiety.
This is the worst thing you can tell someone, that feeling anxious isn’t acceptable as this just gives off the impression that we need to get rid of it and when we come from this state, we create even more suffering.
The problem with this approach is that it ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. You actually end up with more stress, struggle and anxiety when we try to force it out of our lives.
You have probably gone to therapy where you spend a large amount of time just talking about your anxiety as if it is this separate thing from you that needs to be banished.
Well, how have you felt whenever you’ve spent a long time focusing in it? Does it make you feel any better? Maybe temporarily but before long you will probably find yourself feeling even more anxious because whatever we focus on, multiplies.
We end up making anxiety concrete and separate from ourselves. We get taught this by people who create these programs or provide us with therapy sessions. Instead of striving to become free of anxiety, allow yourself to rest into it. One method feels like a struggle, the other makes you feel at ease.
The paradox is that by letting go of this striving to become anxiety free, you’ll end up feeling more and more at ease within yourself and your anxiety levels will naturally, overtime, begin to reset at a normal level.
I don’t think it’s ever possible to be completely free of anxiety because it’s something that comes and goes. However, we can change our relationship towards it so that it longer troubles us like it used to.
Why do we try to get rid of anxiety?
Because we think we have to and because we’ve most likely been told by others that we need the anxiety to go in order for us to function properly.
Like I’ve already mentioned, the more you focus on getting rid of anxiety, the more effort we make in pushing the anxiety away, doing positive thinking, trying to change one thought with another or running away from our anxious feelings, we are sending a message to our subconscious that this thing called anxiety which is currently our experience
Being okay with feeling anxious
Let go of the idea that it’s not okay to feel anxiety. Acceptance (not trying to fight yourself out of the anxiety) is very important so the last thing you want to keep telling yourself is that it isn’t okay to feel this way.
When you learn to be okay with experiencing anxiety, then you end up letting go of this internal battle that you’ve been keeping yourself in for so many years. You really don’t need any techniques because all this does is it puts us into this frame of mind where we need to struggle and manage our anxiety.
You don’t have to get rid of anxiety in order to heal. This might sound strange but it’s true because the more we try to get rid of anxiety, the more resistance we create around it.
Using the snow globe Analogy to help us let go of fixing ourselves
Imagine that your brain is the snow globe and the snow is the anxious thoughts and sensations (anxiety). When we try to get rid of anxiety, this is akin to shaking the snow globe which keeps it spinning around which keeps us entangled in the anxious state.
However, once we stop trying to get rid of anxiety, once we place the snow globe down on the table, then the snow (anxiety) begins to settle. Put another way, we begin to effortlessly break free from the entanglement of the resistance created around wanting to get rid of anxiety.
Until next time 🙂