Resisting how we feel
Again, just like trying to get rid of how we feel, resisting anxiety is another way in which we fuel the fire. Whatever we fight against, we strengthen. So, it makes sense then to think that fighting our anxiety will create more of what we are fighting against.
Since when has war ever created peace? You cannot create peace with war, you just end up creating more war. It’s the same for our inner state. If we want to create an internal environment of peace and ease, then we need to allow our thoughts, emotions and sensations the freedom to be without trying to put the fire out with gasoline.
This isn’t easy and it takes a lot of time and patience to cultivate the attitude of acceptance.
Focusing on anxiety all day long
Googling our symptoms is one of the worst things to do because you’ll read something on google which will claim that anxiety leads to heart failure or something silly. It’s all just false fear mongering information by the way. It’s not true.
But because we are in an anxious state, it’s so easy for us to believe that it might be true. “What if anxiety really does lead to heart failure? OMG! I’m actually dying!”. Our over-active imagination then sends our poor anxious mind into overdrive.
Just a little belief that it could well be true is enough to send a shock wave of fear throughout our minds and bodies when we are in an chronically anxious state. Fear breeds fear.
This is why I don’t recommend anyone to keep googling their symptoms. Of course, find the information that can help you. But don’t keep on doing it if you are fed up with scaring yourself senseless.
Going on anxiety forums is another thing I recommend that people steer clear of. This isn’t to say that all forums are bad news. But so many of them (most) are just full of people talking about how awful they feel and so it just becomes a pit of suffering.
Find the ones which are focused on actually helping people to heal and forget the rest. That’s my two cents on it anyway.
Constantly talking about our anxiety just keeps reminding ourselves of the thoughts and feelings that are always present within us. We don’t need to talk about it unless we are asking for help or want to get something off our chest. This kind of talk is great! However, when we just talk about it like we’re complaining about how we feel all the time, then this is just going to give more energy and power away to the anxiety.
Always remember this: Where attention goes, energy flows. Anxiety is just energy at the end of the day and the more we focus on this energy, the more powerful it becomes.
By all means, get things off your chest, talk about how you are feeling when you feel it’s truly necessary, especially when you are seeking help. But ask yourself this question. Am I just constantly complaining about how I feel to other’s all of the time? Is doing this actually going to help me in the long run?
Taking our anxiety seriously
Do you take your anxiety seriously? I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, that’s what I did. What I found out was taking our anxiety seriously is another way in which it replenishes itself.
I know it can be very hard to not our anxiety seriously because of how uncomfortable it makes us feel. After all, it is literally an alarm system ringing inside of our bodies.
Here’s the reason why we don’t need to keep taking our anxiety seriously. Nothing about anxiety is harmful. Nothing about anxiety is based on reality.
This includes all of the unpleasant thoughts we might be experiencing and all of the uncomfortable and intense physical symptoms. It’s all just nervous energy.
We really don’t need to take it seriously.because it is nothing more than a false alarm. Let’s just prove to our brain that it’s nothing serious by not reacting to this emergency emotion in fear.
Using avoidance behaviours
Avoidance can work wonders in the very short term. That relief we experience when we avoid something is intoxicating, let’s be frank here.
Whilst it might feel good in the short term and relieve some of our anxiety/panic, it does nothing good for us in the long run.
When we keep avoiding things, we are sending a message to our amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for anxiety) that the thing we are avoiding is dangerous. The only way to show your brain that we are not afraid of said thing is to practice the action of not avoiding. To build confidence, start by practicing non-avoidance with small things.
Trying to work out why we are suffering (Searching for the cause)
I know how tempting this one can be. We just assume that working out the apparent cause of our anxiety, which by the way, isn’t anything out there, will be helpful. As if knowing what caused us to fall into this anxious experience will be helpful.
Whilst it might sound like a good thing to do, it is actually keeping us focused on the anxiety and whatever we focus on, we empower so we certainly don’t want to do that.
Trying to work this all out is just tiring our nerves out even further. What our mind needs right now is a break from all of this. The mind is set up to self heal in the same way our bodies self heal. It just requires our stepping out of the way for this to happen and the passage of time.
Trust me, you don’t need to work anything out because this won’t make any difference. The “cure” is understanding what is going on and changing our relationship with the anxiety.
Trying to stop thinking
When we try to stop ourselves from thinking certain thoughts, we end up putting more awareness on the thoughts we don’t want to think about due to reverse psychology. The solution is to let yourself think these thoughts without taking them seriously.
This way, they will pass by like clouds in the sky. Never try to stop yourself from thinking something, it will not work. You’ll just end up thinking about it because this is how our minds work. If you don’t believe me, try it out.
Try not to think about whatever it is you’d rather not think about for the next 15 minutes. I highly doubt you’ll be able to do it. After all, it’s like trying not to think of a pink elephant. What happens when you tell yourself to not think of a pink elephant? You are more likely to think of it. Reverse psychology at play once again.
The solution to this is just to allow yourself to think the thoughts that you are afraid of experiencing whilst not adding that second fear or trying to make them go away.
You don’t need to fear the thoughts because they are harmless. They do not represent the truth about your life. You’re not obliged to fear the thoughts or take them seriously. Nothing bad will happen if we don’t. In fact, we won’t have a strong emotional reaction to them. The only way we can have a strong emotional reaction to our thoughts is if we make them front page news.
It’s much easier and requires far less energy than spending our time trying not to think of certain thoughts. Why someone thought that thought stopping was a good strategy I will never know. As Claire Weekes said, let yourself think these thoughts willingly. See that nothing bad will happen from having these thoughts. They are just temporary bubbles of the imagination.
I’m sure I’ve missed something that keeps us stuck in the anxiety cycle. If there’s something you feel I’ve missed out, please let me know and I’ll add it in.
Thank you very much.
Until next time.