Seeing Anxiety As The Enemy Makes Us Suffer More
I used to have this perception where my anxiety was my biggest enemy. Everything that went wrong would be blamed on my anxiety. Every time I couldn’t do something was blamed on my anxiety. Not only that but I would spend my whole waking day trying to fight off this “enemy” by googling how to get over it and not accepting the thoughts and sensations which the “enemy” created.
The problem with having this perception is that it does nothing to help ourselves heal. When we make anxiety into our enemy, life becomes a living hell. This is one of the major mistakes we can make as anxiety sufferers.
It seems logical to perceive anxiety as our enemy because, let’s be frank here, it feels really awful. It makes sense to assume that anxiety is some sort of demonic entity that has taken full possession over our minds and bodies because it genuinely feels like it’s attacking us. Just because we think this is true, doesn’t mean that it is.
We distort the truth with a faulty perspective. So, because perspectives our amazingly powerful and we keep having the perception that anxiety is our enemy, then it will look and feel that way in our reality.Our perceptions play a massive part in governing how we experience life.
Starving this disempowering perspective
We have to understand that in order for this perspective to survive, it needs food. Whatever food we lay out in front of anxiety will be consumed by the anxiety. So, if we keep viewing anxiety as our enemy, it won’t hold back. It will take every single piece of the ‘enemy perception’ food and devour it. We make it stronger and more scary by perceiving it in this way. This is what gives it more life and sustenance.
So, we need to give anxiety new food, we need to perceive anxiety differently. Once we understand that anxiety is actually not our enemy, that in fact it’s actually our protector and we adopt this as a perspective, then the anxiety will eat and digest this “anxiety is our protector” food and will begin to feel satisfied. Once it feels satisfied, the anxiety will have no more reason to appear threatening to us because we now understand that it was never our enemy to begin with.
It takes quite a while to starve this disempowering perspective, so this new perspective of seeing anxiety as our protector takes practice and time. If we do stick to this perspective, we will take back a lot of our power.
How can we really know for sure that anxiety is our protector?
In order for us to really trust and accept that this is true, we need to take a ride in the time machine going back to the caveman times. When we lived in such hostile environments such as in a jungle, it was very easy to be attacked and even killed by a wild predator. Fortunately for us, we had this inbuilt alarm system (fight or flight response) which would alert us of any danger.
Our senses would scan the environment and if they perceived anything at all that looked threatening, they would send information back to the brain to activate the fight or flight response. Once activated, our bodies were primed to deal with this threat by either fighting it or running away.
During this experience, we would feel all of the bodily sensations that we would experience in a generalised anxiety condition. Sweaty palms, racing heart, shallow breath, tense muscles, dilated pupils and so on. All of these bodily changes happen to make us more efficient at dealing with this life threatening situation. So, none of these bodily sensations are doing us any harm. They are a natural and normal response to a threat.
In the same way that when we experience these bodily sensations during an anxiety condition (no real threat present), we are not coming to any form of harm. Our brain has received the message that we are under danger because of how we have responded to our thoughts and uncomfortable bodily sensations. Of course, there is no threat, all we are experiencing is disturbing thoughts and unpleasant sensations, nothing more.
In either case, the fear response is trying to keep us safe. All we need to do is look back into our past and see the truth of this inbuilt survival mechanism. This is why it’s so empowering to defuse this lie we create around anxiety being our enemy. It’s just not!
We need to reassure our emotional part of the brain that we’re safe by changing the way we respond to our anxious thoughts and sensations. We need to stop labelling them as bad/dangerous, surrender to it all and reassure ourselves we are safe whilst we wait for our anxiety reduces.
I hope this article has offered you reassurance and that you can really trust that anxiety isn’t out to get us. Whenever you feel in doubt of this truth, just remind yourself that the fear response is what sustained the survival of our ancestors and without it, we would of died off a long, long time ago.
Until next time