Spending Our Day Fixating On It
Don’t feel bad for doing this. I did it pretty much every day for as long as I can remember. When we’re going through anxiety, life feels very lonely, hostile and miserable.
When we feel completely helpless and hopeless and have no idea what to do to heal ourselves from anxiety, it’s easy for us to get into the habit of fixating on how we feel. Which is understandable after all.
We have this understandable assumption that by spending our waking day trying to figure out why we are suffering, what might have caused it and trying to reason ourselves out of anxiety will help us heal. Like I said, it makes perfect sense for us to behave in this way because if we have a problem, something needs fixing, right?
I’m here to tell you that as an anxiety sufferer, you are not broken and you never were. You don’t have an incurable mental illness, you have a hypersensitive nervous system and an over-active imagination which is playing tricks on you. It certainly hasn’t got anything to do with being broken.
It’s this constant fixating on our anxious thoughts & sensations mentality that holds us back. Without realising it, we are keeping ourselves trapped in the anxious cycle by spending our day talking about how we feel to the people around us, researching online, giving too much attention to our anxious thoughts and sensations.
This is how we bring anxiety to life. By focusing and fixating on it. We cannot allow ourselves to heal and move on from our anxiety if we are stuck in the habit of fixation.
At the same time, forcing ourselves to not fixate on it doesn’t really work from the intuitive point of view. We have to not fight against the fact that we are spending our day being fixated on all of our anxious thoughts and sensations. Once we adopt this attitude of no longer fighting it, we can then start to replace our fixating habit with another habit. Here’s the thing, we all have habits of fixation. We are always focusing on something. The question is, what do we want to focus on? Do we really want to spend our waking day fixating on our anxiety? Of course we don’t.
The key is to practice putting our attention elsewhere onto the things we truly want to focus on. Even if it feels strange at first, we have to behave normally and eventually this will become the norm.
Let me explain each of these in detail.
Talking about our anxiety – The reason why talking about our anxiety isn’t conducive to the healing process is because whenever we talk about it, we are putting our attention on it and whatever has our dominant attention grows bigger.
Talking about the thoughts and sensations we are experiencing makes it seem more real, more concrete. We are breathing more life into the nightmare we want to forget and move on from.
Put another way, if you wanted your cut on your finger to heal, you wouldn’t spend your day itching and picking at the scab, would you? This is what happens when we constantly talk about our anxiety and all of the anxious thoughts and sensations it produces.
Important information: Whilst constantly entering into dialogue about anxiety feeds it, I definitely recommend letting people who you can trust know what you’re experiencing. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is very important because it allows us to get it off of our chest. Bottling things up is never a healthy habit to get into. I did it for most of my life and it certainly didn’t help.
The people we can trust will be very understanding towards us, even if they don’t actually understand what we’re experiencing.
Researching online – I can only go by my own experience when it comes to researching about anxiety online. As you probably already know, we experience an unpleasant sensation which causes us to react with more anxiety. Then, because we are in the panic state, we turn to the internet looking for reassurance. Little to we know that researching about our anxiety symptoms online can be a big mistake.
Whenever I looked up anxiety and trying to find out what I was going through, it made me react with more anxiety because I my mind was anticipating worst case scenarios.
What if I find something out I don’t want to know? What if anxiety is linked to heart disease or cancer?” These worst-case scenario thoughts were buzzing around my head whilst I would google my symptoms. Not only that but when I did eventually come on to something which mentioned anxiety leading to a severe illness long term, you can imagine how I reacted to this information. Because my mind was already creating this anxious thoughts about the symptoms I was experiencing, I assumed that whatever the information said about anxiety leading to disease was true.
This is why it’s imperative that we don’t research about our anxiety because there is so much mis-information online. There are literally billions of online sources which we can stumble upon and then believe that what they are saying is true. Although this isn’t true, having anxiety makes us think that is because our minds produce this worst-case scenario thoughts and we believe they could be representing the truth even though they’re not.
So, my advice here is to stay away from researching. Don’t believe anything that makes you feel more anxious because it’s just fear mongering information. It’s so important to stop doing it because by carrying out this behaviour, we are watering and nurturing the anxiety which creates the perfect environment for it to grow.
Trying to Fix Anxiety – As I mentioned earlier, you are not broken, you don’t need fixing. At least not in the way you think you do. By trying to fix ourselves through reasoning with the anxiety, by trying to change our anxious thoughts and block out our feelings, we are pouring more fuel onto the fire.
Whenever we get into this fixing mentality, we are giving off the impression that we are sick. So, because we are giving off this impression, we are keeping the anxiety in place.
Refusing to Accept Our Anxiety – Anxiety cannot be cured by our refusal to accept and allow ourselves to fully think the anxious thoughts and feel the anxious sensations. This is a must! We have to give up all conscious control and manipulation over our anxious state. What the wisdom teachers have been saying for so long is that by giving up control, we gain a deeper sense of control that we never knew existed.
Our minds and bodies are always trying to return themselves to a state of balance, but when we fight against how we feel, we are adding more stress and anxiety to our nervous system. This is what keeps it in a hypersensitised state.
When we apply the acceptance and allowance approach, in other words, when we mentally give in to the anxiety and let it walk all over us, we give our nervous system a chance to self-correct. To do this, we just have to allow the anxiety to flow through us without thinking that we need to get rid of it.
If our nervous system could speak in words, it would say something like this: “Thanks Lawrence, this is really helpful of you. I’ve been trying to heal for so long but you’ve been fighting your anxiety so it’s impossible to do so. It’s such a relief now that you’ve stopped fighting.”
Believing in the thoughts
Just because we can think a thought, doesn’t mean it is true. In fact, all thoughts we experience are fictitious. Thoughts themselves are not the problem. The problem happens when we identify with these thoughts and perceive them as reality. If we see thoughts as the truth, it’s game over for the time being.
There’s nothing we can do but get carried away by these thoughts and experience more anxiety. This just leads to an even more sensitised state because our mind is on guard as it thinks we are under threat due to our believe in our thoughts.
On the other hand, if we truly understood and knew that our thoughts are actually meaningless, we wouldn’t react with more fear because we wouldn’t be sending a message to our brain that these thoughts are real and important. See, the brain cannot tell the difference between reality and fiction. So, if we react with fear, it will think that there is a bear in the room. It will prepare us to deal with this threat by releasing adrenaline into our bloodstream.
How we stop ourselves from identifying with our thoughts?
Well, if we have already identified with them, there’s nothing we can do but accept this. Beating ourselves up and feeling guilty for taking our thoughts as truth does nothing but amplify our suffering. Although we can’t control what thoughts come into our consciousness, we can control how we respond to them.
We can respond by being aware of our thoughts and then catching ourselves when we have taken our thoughts to represent the truth of things. Once we catch ourselves, we can remind ourselves that thoughts don’t mean anything, they are illusions appearing real but just because they appear to be real, doesn’t mean they are real. The more we do this, the more we interrupt our patterns of unconsciousness. We can see clearly that a thought is just a thought and that we don’t have to get lost in it. We can simply observe it and allow it to pass.
We are the clear blue sky, thoughts are the clouds. Thoughts come and go, they pass by like the clouds in the sky. The sun doesn’t get attached to the clouds. In the same way that we don’t usually get attached to our thoughts.
The thoughts we usually attach ourselves to our the ones that usually stick around longer. They stay longer because we don’t want to have them. When you don’t wish to have a certain thought, you will able to feel a tug of resistance against them. The way to lose this resistance is to start allowing the thoughts to pass without wishing to not think them. Don’t judge them as bad or negative, just see them as energy moving in and out of your consciousness and allow them to pass, because they will if you let them.
Seeing Anxiety as The Enemy
Do you see your anxiety as an enemy? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you did because I saw my anxiety as the ultimate enemy for years. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was actually giving more power away to it when I was perceiving anxiety as this monster out to get me.
“Here it is again, why won’t you just leave me alone!” This is what I would say to the anxiety, little did I know that it was actually trying to protect me from danger instead of trying to make my life a living hell. The only reason anxiety produces these worst-cast scenario thoughts is because are brains are wired to seek out danger and mitigate risks.
It’s amazing how just by perceiving something as the enemy, will instil more fear and helplessness inside of ourselves. Have you ever perceived a person to be your enemy? I’m almost sure you have because most of us have. How do you feel deep down when you make a person into an enemy? Apart from feeling annoyed and angry at this person, don’t you feel on edge? Maybe even a little afraid if we were to be completely honest? I know I did.
Rather than seeing anxiety as the enemy, see it as your great protector, like a body guard that is always looking out for you and has your back. I know it’s not always helpful when it triggers the alarm bells when there is no real reason to, but resenting it and seeing it as our nemesis only serves to fuel the fire of anxiety.
Eating the wrong kinds of food
What can be classed as the wrong types of food to eat for an anxiety sufferer? What made me feel worse from my own experience was eating too much junk food and sugar.
Junk food is called junk food for a reason. It doesn’t really contain any nutrients and because it is void of nutrients, it adds no benefit to our health whatsoever. In actual fact, junk food contains empty carbohydrates which can cause our blood sugar levels to spike. To maintain good health, it’s important that we keep our blood sugar levels in balance. This is what will happen when you start to remove certain foods and substances from your diet.
We don’t have to be a complete heath freak, but it is important that we stick to a resonably healthy diet. Making sure we are eating enough fruit and vegetables is important. Eating healthy has such as positive effect.
Caffeine & Alcohol
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system. It’s basically creating more stimulation to an already hyper-stimulated mind and body. Removing caffeine from our diets is a no brainer if we want to take the edge off of our anxiety. I don’t recommend cutting it out instantly (going cold turkey) because this can cause rebound anxiety. What I do recommend and this is something I did, is to switch caffeinated coffee with decaffeinated coffee.
Then after about two weeks of drinking decaffeinated coffee, I recommend replacing decaff with chamomile tea. You shouldn’t really have any side effects by this point, especially if you’ve switched to decaff coffee. It’s still possible to have mild side effects from caffeine withdrawal because there is still a little bit of caffeine in decaff. However
Chamomile tea has a soothing effect on our anxiety. It acts as a mild sedative. What I will say is that if you’re in a fighting mentality towards anxiety, it won’t make any difference in terms of drinking chamomile tea or using any natural remedy to produce a calming affect because you are creating inner resistance.
On the other hand, making the choice to accept whilst drinking chamomile tea will help to make you feel relaxed. Don’t expect it to have an effect right away (hopefully it will). If you drink 4 cups of it daily, you will start to feel the benefits after about 2 weeks, in my opinion.
When it comes to alcohol, I recommend cutting it out completely during the healing process, however long that will be, no one knows. However, if you really do enjoy drinking it, at least minimise your consumption of it to a sensible level. I had to stop drinking it when I was in really high anxiety because it had such a negative effect on my nervous system. Waking up with hangovers on top of severe anxiety is hell.
Applying the advice here should definitely decrease your levels of anxiety. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time 🙂