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13 Weird Thoughts People With Anxiety Have

I’m not trying to say that we are members of an exclusive club or anything like that, but people with anxiety experience life differently. On a very basic level, we don’t see the world the same way as those who have never dealt with an anxiety disorder; we have a different kind of brain. We turn the simplest things into mini-explosions of stress, and we worry about stuff that wouldn’t even make a non-anxious person think twice. Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy and author of over 20 books on mental illness, wrote for Psychology Today about the “intrusive thoughts” people with anxiety deal with. He says it can feel like you’re battling your own mind at times, and that we anxiety sufferers can be plagued by the most bizarre notions. However, treatments like cognitive therapy can be useful tools in separating the thoughts from reality.

In order to raise awareness about what people with mental illness go through on a daily basis, Huffington Post gathered and shared anonymous thoughts from editors and readers who struggle with anxiety. It was an honest look into the brains of people who can feel constantly misunderstood. For example, one person said they often think, “Are they laughing at me? I hope I don’t mess this up. Was that supposed to be funny? Was I NOT supposed to laugh? Can I leave yet?” As someone who has battled acute anxiety for years, I can’t help but laugh a little bit at this, because it’s pretty much the exact transcript to the thoughts that run through my mind a lot of the times. Hey, if I have to deal with it anyway, I might as well find some humor in it.

Here are 13 weird thoughts people with anxiety have.

1. “Maybe Gmail Was Lying And That Email Didn’t Actually Send”

No matter how many times you double-check whether you finished an important task, like sending out a big email or locking your front door, it’s never enough. You still wonder whether it actually got done, even after you’ve received confirmation from a reliable source that it’s been completed.

2. “What Does My Face Really Look Like?”

Folks with anxiety tend to fall into deep philosophical thought about, well, pretty much everything. We may especially struggle with thoughts about physical appearance because we know what we see in the mirror is not necessarily what others see when they look (or stare) at us. So it isn’t uncommon for us to turn over this thought again and again in our heads, wondering how much of the time we look the way we do in photos, and how often we actually resemble a stressed-out alien.

3. “She’s Mad At Me Because I Took Too Long To Text Back, I Just Know It”

We’re always worried about whether somebody close to us is mad at us for some dumb reason. If my best friend and I are messaging back and forth and she suddenly doesn’t respond, I automatically assume that I waited too long to respond, and as a result she is going to end all our years of friendship to trade me in for someone who can type a reply at a more acceptable pace.

4. “What If My Neighbors Can Hear What I Watch On Netflix?”

For someone with anxiety, everything can be embarrassing. It could be the sound of your shoes walking on the sidewalk or what you look like when you bite into a sandwich. One thing we often get really sensitive about is our choice in television shows. What if people find out how much Real Housewives we watch? Can the neighbors hear, and are they totally judging us for it? And so on.

5. “Did That Mole Change Shape??”

As soon as something on our body looks or feels odd, we get nervous about it. Our brains automatically go to the most ominous possibility, which is and always will be cancer. If we’re really on a roll, we immediately hop onto one of the many websites that allow you to jump to horrifying conclusions about your health based on very common symptoms, where there are plenty of hokey medical diagnoses to keep us occupied through the night.

6. “The Whole Office Hates Me Because Of How I Sneeze”

Social settings aren’t exactly where most people with anxiety thrive. I generally think anyone who claims they like hanging out in a large group of people is just lying through their teeth, but when you have anxiety, these situations can be a special kind of torture. You tend to overanalyze everything you do in social settings, especially in the office. It’s a given to speculate about how much your coworkers despise you, but the real fun begins when you start to comb through all the specific reasons they might hate you. Usually, you’ll settle on the smallest things, like how high-pitched your sneeze is or how many times you go in and out of the break room in a day.

7. “Did I Leave Out Something In The Apartment That The Cat Could Eat And Die From?”

Anxiety disorders can cause the most innocent of people to produce gory visuals in their heads. Don’t beat yourself up about it if you think about death every now and again. It’s totally normal! Death happens! But you don’t want it to happen to your cat, which is why you think about it every hour on the hour.

8. “Is There Such Thing As Donut Breath?”

If it paid well enough, worrying about personal hygiene could be a lucrative career for anxiety sufferers. We’re always concerned with how we smell. No matter how much deodorant we slather on in the morning, we still fret about weird armpit scents. Along with the normal body odors, though, we invent new, specific smells to worry about. Because a box of donuts must have some kind of consequences, right?

9. “My Boss Called But Didn’t Leave A Voicemail, So I Must Be Fired”

Thinking about the worst case scenario is second nature to us. All it takes is the tiniest bump in the road to make us presume the most grim outcome. I have this thought pretty much every time my boss doesn’t respond right away. And if my editor writes her notes into my articles in all-caps? She hates me, for sure, according to my anxiety.

10. “I’m Taking Way Too Long To Tell This Story, Aren’t I?”

The general rules of social etiquette often go way over the heads of most folks with anxiety. And not understanding those rules makes us feel a little freaked out. We get distressed about group conversations and being judged for the words that come out of our mouths. We can be particularly harsh on ourselves when it comes to storytelling. We worry about how boring we are and whether we’re totally ruining everyone’s time together.

11. “Do I Get Up To Pee Too Often?”

Everyone is watching you. At least, that’s what it feels like. Plus, your chair squeaks really loud every time you get up to go to the bathroom. You make it to the stall nearly drenched in sweat from all the worrying and spend the rest of the day tallying how many times you pee.

12. “Nobody Liked My Tweet, So I May As Well Delete My Twitter Account!”

A question I ask myself each day: Nobody thinks I’m funny, so why even bother to exist online? Not being acknowledged for a joke you just cracked can really eat away at you when you’ve got an anxiety disorder. Humor is one of the hardest parts of social interaction, especially because there are so many unspoken rules you have to follow. It gets so overwhelming that it sometimes feels like it might be better to just throw in the towel.

13. “I’m So Anxious I Give Everyone Else Anxiety”

I get anxious about how anxious I am, and then I lose sleep thinking about how much my anxiety gives other people anxiety. Is my anxiety contagious? Am I passing it on to innocent bystanders and ruining their lives? I’m sure this is not an abnormal thought for us anxious folk. I hope it’s not, anyway.

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Anxiety Makes It Hard to Know if I Want to Be Alone or With Others

Anxiety Makes It Hard to Know if I’ll Be an ‘Introvert’ or ‘Extrovert’ Today

Sometimes I struggle to make sense of the love of being alone but also the fear of being alone. To an introvert, being alone can be a favorite pastime and to an extrovert, they can often want nothing more than to be around people. But what if I don’t fit in these categories? What if I don’t want to label myself because neither of these titles make any sense to who I am?

With anxiety, it is impossible to guess how I am going to feel each day. Do I want to be alone or do I need the distraction of the people I care about? After a long day, there is nothing more I want then to sit alone and process my day. The last thing I can imagine is socializing with friends or having to go out in public. My day was exhausting and my thoughts drained all my energy. All I want to do is sleep and prepare myself for the next day. I cannot even imagine holding a conversation and I seem reserved and standoffish.

A week later, I can feel the exact same way but the last thing I can imagine is being alone. My thoughts become too strong to push away by myself. I have to put the television on and put the volume up to drown out the thoughts I can no longer control. I get up and start to pace the floor trying to find something to do or even start cleaning to distract myself. I start texting my boyfriend and friends to think of something else while I try to push away the nauseous feeling creeping up my throat. I start doing homework that might not be due for another two weeks just so I can keep myself busy. I start making lists of anything I can think of or start organizing my room to keep myself calm. I count down the minutes until my boyfriend is out of work just so I can have someone next to me, someone I can have a conversation with.

I wish I was able to know which way I was going to feel each day. Whether I should plan to meet up with friends or know not to make any plans altogether. I know it is hard for many people to understand how I can seem like an introvert one day and an extrovert the next day, but I have learned I need to adjust my surroundings with the way I am feeling each day.

How to Stop the Weird Thoughts Caused By Anxiety – Term Life

Anxiety genuinely affects the way you think. That’s one of the reasons that so few people treat it. They have all of these weird thoughts and they feel so natural that they think there is either something wrong with them or that there is nothing wrong at all. Few people actually realize that anxiety changes how you see things and how you view things, and makes them all worse.

So when anxiety starts causing weird thoughts, few people actually get help. Instead, they try to fight the thoughts themselves, and ultimately only make these weird thoughts worse.

Weird Thoughts = Anxiety?

Weird thoughts may simply be thoughts. Many people have unusual day dreams or awkward fantasies, and in general they mean nothing. When these thoughts start controlling your life, that’s when anxiety is often the cause. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more about your anxiety and its solutions.

Start the test here.

What Defines a Weird Thought?

The reality is that there are many thoughts that are completely normal – even strange thoughts that make you feel awkward or uncomfortable once in a while. It’s not about the thoughts themselves, it’s about how they impact your life.

If you’re finding that these weird thoughts are causing you significant distress, and often either cause anxiety themselves or occur during periods of anxiety, that’s when an anxiety problem is likely. Take my anxiety test to find out more.

Examples of Weird Thoughts

The occasional weird thought doesn’t generally cause that much distress. A problem usually occurs when either the thoughts are getting consistently weirder or they’re becoming obsessions, where you cannot seem to stop thinking these weird thoughts.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is the most common anxiety disorder with “weird” thoughts, although they can occur in other types of anxiety as well. Many of the thoughts in OCD are generic, such as a fear of contamination (fear of germs). But these aren’t necessarily described as “weird” subjectively. They’re irrational, and they’re often distressing, but they’re not weird.

Usually when people start to become concerned over their weird thoughts, it’s because the thoughts have become some type of cultural taboo. For example:

  • Thoughts of aggressive, violent, or perverse sexual acts.
  • Thoughts of assault or murder, especially when gory.
  • Thoughts of religious shame, hell, or Satanism.

It’s important to remember that “weird” is a subjective quality, so what may be weird for one may not be weird for others. Sometimes the thoughts can be truly strange, such as imagining unusual creatures doing unusual things either during dreams or in real life. But the most common strange thoughts are the ones above.

All weird thoughts and obsessions may be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. Often, although not always, those with OCD end up creating compulsions (behaviors that a person feels they “must” do) in order to stop the thoughts from occurring.

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These Thoughts Are Caused By Anxiety

There are other disorders that can cause unusual, often unwanted thoughts. Only a psychologist can correctly determine whether or not your thoughts are the result of something other than an anxiety disorder. Psychologists may also look to see if you also have other anxiety symptoms, which are important for an anxiety diagnosis. Take my anxiety test to learn more if you haven’t yet.

But if the question is whether or not anxiety can cause weird thoughts, the answer is absolutely yes. Anxiety changes the way you think, causing you to have more negative, and ultimately more unusual thoughts. Anxiety also makes regular weird thoughts more common – many people without anxiety have the occasional weird thought, but those with anxiety tend to focus on those thoughts more, worry about them, and then allow those thoughts to come back.

You Cannot Force Yourself to Stop the Thoughts

Another problem for those with anxiety is that they often want to force themselves to stop thinking those strange thoughts. So they tell themselves to stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, studies have shown that if you try to not have a thought, you’re actually more likely to get it again than if you hadn’t tried to stop it. You’re also more likely to suffer from similar thoughts, because the fear of having the weird thought causes more of them in uncomfortable situations.

Tips to Control Weird Thoughts

Remember that what’s weird to one person may not be weird to the next, and you can have weird thoughts without OCD. Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD and more all may create unusual thoughts and feelings that you weren’t expecting.

It’s also important to realize that one of the issues that causes these weird thoughts is fear that you’ll have them in the first place. Fighting your thoughts is an impossible task – the more you fight them, the worse they’ll get, and the more you’ll worry about the thoughts occurring (which causes them to occur even more often).

There are some things you can do to reduce the effects of weird thoughts. These include:

Accepting the Thoughts

Your first, mandatory step for controlling these weird thoughts is to accept them. You need to allow yourself to have those thoughts without worrying about what they mean, if you can control them, or what they say about you.

Accept that your thoughts are caused by your anxiety, and they don’t mean anything. It doesn’t matter how violent, sexual, or genuinely strange the thought is. Anxiety causes all sorts of weird thoughts, and if you want to have any hope of controlling them then you have to come to the realization that they don’t mean anything.

The pressure you put on yourself not to have those thoughts is completely counterproductive. Don’t worry about the thoughts, and instead find whatever way you can to laugh them off or remind yourself that it’s simply a symptom of your disorder.

Over-Thinking On Purpose

Another effective strategy that many people complete with their psychologists is over-thinking the thought. This is a process designed to ensure that the thought causes less fear. Essentially, you purposefully have the thought often until it no longer affects you.

Sit in a room and keep having the thought over and over. Don’t worry about it causing anxiety – just let yourself be afraid, and keep thinking about it. Your body will eventually get used to the thought and to the fear, and you won’t be as afraid of having the thought or similar thoughts in the future.

Writing the Thought Out Fast

Your brain (especially when you have anxiety) hates the idea of forgetting things. It will focus on thoughts over and over again if it’s trying not to forget them, and it will keep you awake at night if it’s worried that you’ll wake up the next day without remembering what you thought about.

The same thing often occurs with strange thoughts. That’s why when you have a weird thought, it’s often a good idea to find a place to write it out somewhere. Don’t worry about what the thought means or what it says about you. Just write it down so that it’s kept in a permanent (but private) place. This will reduce some of the impact the thought has on your memory, and possibly make it less likely for the thought to occur again.

Surefire Solutions for Weird Thoughts From Anxiety

Thoughts are just thoughts – they’re not something you can control. That’s one of the reasons that so many people find their thoughts distressing and try to stop it. They start to convince themselves that these thoughts mean something and that they must want to have them. Then they feel shame, fear, or embarrassment over these thoughts.

Unfortunately, you simply cannot control your thoughts or stop them from coming back without help. The above strategies should reduce the number of weird thoughts you have or how you respond to them, but you will still need to deal with the underlying issue: your anxiety.

I’ve helped thousands of people suffering from weird thoughts control their anxiety. You need to first start with my free anxiety test.

When Your Partner Has Anxiety: A Meltdown Guide – Term Life

By:Kyla Rose Sims

TW: I swear a lot in this article. 

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What do you do when your partner is having a panic attack or a depressive episode?

It can be really scary and super frustrating watching someone you love go through an episode, especially if you don’t know how to be helpful.

This Meltdown Guide was created to help those of you who are in love with people who struggle with anxiety and depression to feel like you can be helpful when your partner seems to be spiraling.

Mental illness can be rough on any relationship, and it is truly no one’s fault. You do not have a responsibility to be super human and protect your partner from every little thing, including themselves. And it’s not your partner’s fault that they are struggling.

This guide was created to inspire those of you with anxiety and depression to communicate with your partner about what you need when you are spiraling, while you are in a better place.

Please take, leave, amend, and rip this list off to create a guide of what you think might work for you. Adapt it over time, and make sure to talk about it with your partner and make it available to them when needed.

So, your partner is having a meltdown. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Stick to the following guide, and they will calm their shit in no time. The rewards will be tremendous, and you will be rolling in the perks that come with a grateful and calm partner if you just follow these simple steps to helping them keep their fucking cool.

Understanding Anxiety: A Metaphor

It is important to understand that because of the neurological connections in your partner’s brain, that have been fired consistently, maybe for their entire life, your partner may respond to stress by exhibiting symptoms of PTSD.

A Metaphor:

Think of this reaction as akin to hiding in a bomb shelter: They can’t live in there forever but it is safe. It is protection from a real or imagined threat or stressor on the outside. It allows one to periodically peer out through the periscope, assess the situation and deal with it in pieces. It also makes it very hard to make real decisions or take real actions.

In these situations, think of your relationship as the ground that the bomb shelter is built in and surrounded by. If you fall away or retreat, it often will make your partner feel exposed or threatened. The threat has nothing at all to do with the surrounding earth, but the emotions and actions that are a reaction to the actual threat, are played out within the earth.

Under no circumstances are you, the stable bedrock, responsible or accountable for the stress occurring above. You are an innocent third party.

If you assume responsibility, then you embody the threat. It is like the earth that surrounds the bomb shelter falling inward and crushing the bomb shelter. Everybody dies. That’s no good.

Reacting To A Partner In Crisis

Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks should be treated with the same mindset as someone who has just been launched off their bike into a gravel pit. It hurts, and it’s gross and can be a bit frightening, but it will pass, wounds will heal, and it’s not a big deal, except for right when it is happening.

Getting upset about it does not make it go away. It has already happened, and now it is time to take care of business. Get your partner to a safe space, and start wiping up the blood and picking out the gravel.

Non-proximity Dependant Tips to Support Your Partner With Anxiety

No matter whether you are with your partner or not at the moment of crisis, these five tips will help get you both through it.

  1. DO remain calm. You are a fucking champion. This skill and these experiences will help you in every relationship, intimate or otherwise, that you will ever have, for the rest of your life.
  2. Don’t ask them to make decisions. They may be incapable of making any at all. Whether it is deciding if they want to go to bed, what they want for dinner, or if they want a glass of water, assume all decision-making faculties have been thrown out the window.
  3. DO take control. This can mean telling them to brush her teeth, put on pajamas, take a shower, eat their dinner, etc. Taking off the pressure of having to make decisions and having the foresight to complete simple tasks like plugging in their phone is HUGE.
  4. Don’t assume they can ask for what they need in that moment. Also, don’t assume you have to be a mind reader. You don’t, just try your best. You know your partner.
  5. DO try the proximal and non-proximal suggestions below if you are unsure of your next step.

Proximal Suggestions for a Partner in Crisis

  1. Sensations

    Disclaimer: Always ask for consent when touching a person who is having a panic attack. They may not be able to answer fully, but be aware of their body language and the subtle cues that they don’t like what you are doing, or that touching them is making it worse.

    • When touching, I find that skin to skin is best, face to face. Alternate between whole-body holding/constricting and light back circles with head petting.
    • Blankets in a quiet, warm, and relatively low-lit atmosphere can be soothing.
    • Platonic-ish kissing is good but mostly appreciated on the forehead, head, and upper back and upper arms. Neck kissing is too sensitive and sticking your tongue in their mouth will be overwhelming and inappropriate.
    • Keep your voice low, either quiet or whispering.
    • Extra special holding technique: Cradling in any form is exceptional; particularly if it allows the one doing the cradling the ability to whisper, rock back and forth in some way, and allows for gentle stroking or petting of the non-sexual variety. Think holding a baby.
  2. Activities
    • Distractions can be good once the initial episode is over and it is time to recover. Music may be too emotionally triggering. I find cartoons are best.
    • Read to them, anything.
    • Bath or shower.
    • Do not fucking fall asleep. They will hate you forever.
    • Tell them about your day, or a mundane topic. Dumb facts about penguins or elephants work here. Do not expect a high level of participation but they are listening, and they do care. This is super helpful and can be very soothing.
  3. Nourishment
    • Start with a glass of water, and if that is good, move to warm beverages – NOT alcoholic, or super creamy or sugary.
    • Encouraging words, “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
    • Breathing together.
    • Make sure they have eaten in the last 3-5 hours.

When You Can’t Be There

You can’t always be there when the shit hits the fan. That is not your fault nor is it your responsibility to babysit your partner. When you can’t be there, here are some great tips to get you and your partner through it.

  1. Sensations
    • Hearing your voice can be soothing. If they don’t answer the phone, leave a message. If you don’t know what to say or talk about, just talk about yourself or your day.
    • Send a photo of wherever you are, or whatever you are doing. This relays that you have stopped to take a picture to send it to them because you are thinking about them. You can also send a picture of yourself making stupid faces, or take a picture of a horrible drawing of a whale you just did. Anything that brings them back into the moment with you. You get the idea.
    • Affirmative statements.
  2. Activities
    • Be available. You’re in a relationship, and if you were going through stuff, you know they would be there for you. If you don’t want to make yourself available, you probably shouldn’t be in this relationship. Obviously, if you are at work, this is an exception, but don’t decide it’s not your concern. You are partners so act like it.
    • Make a plan. Don’t dwell too much on what is happening but tell them what is going to happen NEXT. Don’t ask for help making the decisions. Take the initiative to make the decisions about what is going to happen with the rest of their day. This will give them something to look forward to and is extremely helpful. Knowing that they will be taken care of is almost as good as being hugged right at the moment.

Go forth!

Now you know the basic steps to help the prettiest or handsomest, sweetest and loveliest person in your world handle their shit.

This list is in no way exhaustive, but it is a really healthy start. Every person is different, and what they need in the moment is going to vary – so talk about it, gosh darn it.

Remember that everything you do is deeply appreciated and it is strengthening your bond in ways nothing else could. You are also learning a lot about nurturing and being a better friend and lover. It’s not pretty, but it’s important.

Do you want to support those struggling with mental illness get the care they need, while supporting Mental Health Research? I am teaming up with the Canadian Association of Mental Health and Addiction to raise money for their campaign, #OneBraveNight! Click here to find out more and donate. 

If you liked this, please think about subscribing to my newsletter so you will be the first to know about posts like this. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  

Disclaimer:

If it wasn’t already super obvious, I’m not a mental health care professional.

I have an entire team of healthcare professionals that help me.  That’s right,  a team. Like so many healthcare professionals. The insight for this Meltdown Guide only came after working with them and on myself. This is not medical advice. I thought that was pretty obvious. If you experience anxiety or depression, please seek help from a professional you trust (doctor, counselor, veterinarian, whatever). It is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Living With High-Functioning and Hidden Anxiety

High-functioning anxiety looks like…

Achievement. Busyness. Perfectionism.

When it sneaks out, it transforms into nervous habits. Nail biting. Foot tapping. Running my fingers through my hair.

If you look close enough, you can see it in unanswered text messages. Flakiness. Nervous laughter. The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes.

High-functioning anxiety feels like…

A snake slithering up my back, clamping its jaws shut where my shoulders meet my neck. Punch-in-the-gut stomach aches, like my body is confusing answering an email with being attacked by a lion.

High-functioning anxiety sounds like…

You’re not good enough. You’re a bad friend. You’re not good at your job. You’re wasting time. You’re a waste of time. Your boyfriend doesn’t love you. You’re so needy.What are you doing with yourself? Why would you say that? What if they hate it? Why can’t you have your shit together? You’re going to get anxious and because you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to mess everything up. You’re a fraud. Just good at faking it. You’re letting everybody down. No one here likes you.

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All the while, it appears perfectly calm.

It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head. 

It’s silent anxiety attacks, hidden by smiles.

It’s always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help.

It’s that sharp pang of saying the wrong thing, the one that starts the cycles of thoughts. Because you said too much, and nobody cares, and it makes you never want to speak up again.

It’s going back and forth between everyone else has it together but you, and so many people have it tougher than you.

Get your act together.

Suck it up.

You’re not OK, you’re messing everything up.

You’re totally OK, stop being such a baby.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night sobbing because the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for your heart to slow down, to feel calm again.

Because how “OK” are you when a day without a plan is enough to make you crumble? When empty spaces make you spiral at the very anticipation of being alone with your thoughts? When you need to make a list to get through a Sunday: watch a show, clean your kitchen, exercise, answer five emails, read 10 pages, watch a show… ?

It’s feeling unqualified to write this piece because I’m getting by. It’s when you’re social enough to get invited to things, but so often find yourself standing in a room where it feels like no one knows you. It’s being good at conversation and bad at making close friends because you only show up when you feel “well” enough. Only text back when you feel ready. Because you’re afraid they’d hate you if they really knew you. That the energy would overwhelm them, and you’d lose them.

So you learn to rein it in. Channel it. Even though sometimes you do everything right (exercise, sleep, one TV show, five emails, 10 pages…) and you’re still left with racing thoughts, the panic. The not good enoughs.

When will it be enough?

Having anxiety means constantly managing motion that can be productive or self-destructive, depending on how much sleep you got. Depending on the day. Depending on the Earth’s alignment with Mars. Depending on…

It’s when “living with it” means learning how to sit with it. Practicing staying in bed a little longer. Challenging the mean, unrelenting voices that say you’re only worth what you produced that day.

It means learning how to say, “I need help.” Trying to take care of yourself without the guilt. It means every once in a while, confiding in a friend. It means sometimes showing up even when you’re scared.

It’s when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery.

It’s fighting against your own need to constantly prove your right to exist in this world.

It’s learning how to validate your own feelings. That even though you don’t feel like you’re enough, and you’ll never be enough, it’s knowing you’re at least anxious enough to benefit from help. That admitting you need it doesn’t confirm voices’ lies. That taking a break doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

It’s finding your own humanity in the anxiety, in your weaknesses. It’s trying to let the energy inspire you, instead of bring you down. It’s forgiving yourself when it wins.

It’s a way to live, with this constant companion. Your bullying twin. Collapsible luggage you can bury away at a moment’s notice. Shove it under the bed. Pretend it’s not there until you can’t fit anymore. Until you can no longer ignore it. Until you have to face it.

A first good step is staring at it straight on and calling it by its name.

High anxiety can be a natural consequence of a busy lifestyle, but its existence is akin to the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the anxiety or the busyness? Am I always moving because I’m anxious or am I anxious because I’m always moving?

Either way, it’s not a noble way to suffer. It’s not a “better” way to be anxious. Just because you’re “functioning” doesn’t always mean you’re happy. And just because you’re functioning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slow down, breathe and take one damn second to be happy the way things are.

In this very moment.

This quiet, short moment.

To remember the peace you found in that second of silence, until the electricity starts again, and you’re forced to move.

Do You Have an Anxiety Disorder? Test Your Fear Level

This anxiety test will help assess your fear level and the way a social situation or a specific object plays a role in your life. Often, people confuse normal anxiety symptoms with phobias. Millions of people experience butterflies in their stomach, sweaty palms, pounding heart at the thought of making a presentation or meeting someone etc.

However, some individuals literally become ill at the mere thought of being in such a situation. For these people, even making a phone call, ordering and eating food or encountering other seemingly non threatening situations/objects can seem sickening and may cause a full blown panic attack. The anxiety test will help determine if you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Do You Have an Anxiety Disorder? Test Your Fear Level and Find Out

Does Anxiety Stunt Growth?

Hi Tim, I can relate to much of what your saying here – but possibly in different way as no two experiences nor people are ever the same. I’m not to sure about your perception on your friend that “was a bad influence on you” … that is to say, I don’t think any of us are qualified to make assessments on others whilst we ourselves struggle to comprehend why it is that we feel so small.

Now … I’ll tell you straight up, I am a little pissed of with things ATM … so forgive me If I seem edgy, none the less I will respond as I am sure other little ones feeling small in the shadows of others might grow some legs and pop in as well. LOL … forgive the sarcasm.

No social phobia does not stunt your growth — it may your mind, but not your growth. You will however reach a point that your body will now longer grow, and the fact is, that as one ages, you will eventually shrink – God Forbid! Mate … you hit the nail on the head with it being a fear – However you will not beat a fear with trying to think of another fear … just to quote that little bit that you said “I always say to myself, if I have fear, “stop being a little bitch” and think of something else that is far worse then talking in public.” It’s the way that we adopt these strategies that can drag us down – We are constantly fed BS for coping mechanisms and this on IMO is no different -> It stinks of “Self betterment”

Nothing wrong in wanting to address these feeling of self insignificance, however doing it by imprinting our minds with another negative – “Well things could be worse” – is just shadowing a present fear with another on- a future thought that if you do not stop thinking about the fear you have now, that in the future you will in fact suffer more as others so clearly do in your own mind. Live in the past – BE SAD – Live in the Fure – Be Worried AKA Anxiety.

What does all this – “Oh little lunch/recces is almost here OMG – ” FUTURE – and why do we think in the future most of the time – Because We Are Taught to FEAR what we may become if we do not Comply! – Unfortunate.y my friend, it is NO different out of school – or prison for that matter. With regards to the Fear of Being small OR not Being Tall enough – Standing in line is probably the worst place to be – LOL – Have a laugh with me on that one.

It’s a sad story to hear this because you much taller than me. My mum is under just under 5 foot – I look tall standing near her, in fact in most picture of me I look taller – that is until you see one with me standing next to my wife. I’m only 5’7 – or I can be a wopping 5’7 – it’s all in your head – to which society fucks with on a daily basis. What were your copping mechanisms????? Regardless of having social phobia, each and every one of us will have a copping mechanism to deal with the beast. You said something about standing in lines, which again, is ironic for a short person as such is a place where all the stigma unfolds.

Is it possible that all your constant worrying stunted your grwoth???? Probably not, because I would say it’s your current demeanor that plays more into you Phobia now, than it did back then. of-course that is not to say, that this Phobia in which you discuss did not contribute to your current attitude of giving normality a Height value. That actually plays into the stigma yourself and would have you just as much a slave to the mind now than it did then.
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Little man syndrome is what they call angry men shorter than others – LOL – I laugh because the label itself creates a problem than in many cases does not exist. Sure it can be frustrating and no doubt some men and women can be frustrated at not being seen, looked past, not being served at the counter or simply being overlooked although still clearly in full view. The problem is often associated with more a superiority complex of others, who weather or not short or tall – suffer from a constant need to be better, bigger, prettier, richer – lets just call it the opposite – A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. We all have it no matter how short or tall! It’s our EGO!!!!!!!!!! School is a place where we are indoctrinated with our ego. It is defended under our patriotic flags – they teach us its why we killed on all those wars and why other nations killed as they did. It is where they teach us that we have to be better people otherwise we will fail in life, we will be worse off!!!!! The same indoctrination commonly used by religion. Be better or else – be with us or against us. US AND THEM … Humanity with its great evolutionary thinking mind now uses the past and future to keep us in fear. Just saw a great show on neuroplasticity, and how it can either make us or break us. The key to that for me – was just how much we need to let go with all the thinking to begin with, but that’s another story.

Sorry to go on so long. Back to being short. SIGH ………. my copping mechanism what in finding my strengths. You see, I too used to fear lunch times and walking between classes. I definitely noticed how taller kids with our modernised human condition would look down with their embedded superiority complexes – but I could see beyond that into all those identities that contributed to such a cowardly – over confident cocky upbringing. In saying that as well, I also detected it was not just height that made others like that – there were other short kids, that for whatever reasons, such as wealth, squeaky clean appearance, pressed clothes, good food, and just plain good all round stability at home – SOME KIDS are just plain cruel while others can be shinny beacons – those in between are often set upon by those who think themselves better, as those that shine, would be open to all around them.

So not just being short, I had no clothes of worth – no food worth bragging – OH BY THE WAY _ I share this not to minimize but to identify with the “PHOBIAS” – just ignore it if you feel it’s too much – OK where was I – oh yea – all that stuff that people think could be worse … -LOL- I think for me, I simply reacted to how others reacted to me – Finding strength – Hmmmmmmmmmm …….. well in an age that worships sport, I discovered that physical endurance would have me being of some worth – I ran and ran till I was the fastest, I also soon learned how to grab these would be superior beings by the knees at great speed and toss them over my shoulder whilst bringing them down to a level in which they could see me. LOL … I got quite good at doing that – that I was seen with a new light BUT Alas – I think it was my crappy clothes, shaved head, and resultant need to fight others battles that would have others going from picking on me, to treating me as if I had the plague.

It’s different for everyone as I say – I can see how that whilst I found a strength, that it was still not good enough, and I in turn also played right back into things – by gravitating to assholes that picked on other weaker kids – playing into my own frustrations and heightening the stigmas of never being good enough, as think that things could be worse, would also drive me to wanting more than what was already so clearly instilled –

Mostly during that time, I did not suffer as bad as I make out now – sometimes – well as I so clearly pointed with yourself, that our stories tend to be tainted with how we think now – that’s why it’s vital that if we ever need to go back for therputic sake, which should only be reserved for traumatized events that play over and over in our minds to a point that makes us non functional … but alas – if looking back in a non judgmental way, without all this identifying of ourselves to – current status and things – then maybe we can learn a thing or two, but rarely worth it when we judge others on a personal basis.

HMMMMMMM – we can generalize much better when doing so, but with more clarity that focuses on how we reflect and how it is us that sees and feel – I would never dare to sum up another individual on a personal level, but only try to understand how or why others did what they did when being so cruel. Once in day care, I remember I kid that just punched me in the face for no reason – however, I am sure in his mind there was very much a reason. This I find interesting because we would of barley been 5. years old. I’ll put that one down to reflecting environmental factors that kid had no control of – but at the time, I would not stop crying in front of everyone where the adult in charge was very tough on me for keeping others up during the enforce sleep times!

Child Care — yet another Sad and indoctrination place – The ease at which parents hand over and justify all in the name of conforming and living the modern way. Often the problems of us sensitive ones are just exasperated from one moment to the next – The good thing is, that once you can outgrow such pain and misery of such an existence in this great glorious world of ours, that true peace can be somehow be found, when we just give up – stop trying to be someone we are not – Although don’t kid one self thinking such will be pain free – It can still be frustrating to see society clammer as it does, with the make up and high heals – or anything to climb above another –

My advice despite that fact there is someone all ways taller – is to smile and nod as if it never mattered.

………………OK …………… It really is sad about this whole drive to be bigger and better. Flag bearers … Politics … Racism … and Religious Judgment … these are the things that must come down before man can become one with self and the land. Drop the exclamation marks, the emotional charged and driven responses:

But here is the thing, how do we break out of the great depression such brings, without tapping into desire – many of us have become so scared of our emotions that we can no longer feel – we adopt Zen to come back to the present, however in doing so fear the slightest bit of JOY that comes from within – as we are only used to that superficial short lived externally driven happiness that so often disappears as sure as people reject one another. Feeling accepted in groups once more, is like WTF … this is too much – the trust issues and all the disappointment with frustration – all of which can come whilst no matter how much we try and avoid – How to confront and want to be or why should we??????????? Just how much is integration necessary comes to my mind here ……

Depends on the level I guess – not just how we have suffered, because also the pain of humanity now is also VERY PRESENT and to work around all that superficiality requires dissociating with the current mind set –

HMMMMMMMMM ……….. So for me, I guess its more about hooking up with those individuals who also can’t function – and making friends with them – to slowly learn how to trust again, to be loved and respected – to learn how to cope with those things – to simply trust again – exposing and confronting as best we can would make sense with the neuroplasticity without sitting down and doing tests – another form of connecting the right bridges from doing – getting back on the treadmill and moving.

OK >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> that’s my rant for the day.

Thanks TIM ………….. I too needed to get something off my chest.
Best of luck with it buddy and may you find peace in the struggles ahead.
Dave.

Anxiety – 11 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know

Anxiety - 11 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know

On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some time in their lives. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you’ll be too familiar with it’s whip-cracking chase that seems to come from nowhere. Here are 12 anxiety facts that will hopefully help to make more sense of your experience.

  1. Anxiety has a genetic basis.

    If either or both of your parents suffer from anxiety, there’s a high chance you’ll experience it as well. It’s about here the nature/nurture argument steps in. Anxiety may be passed down through genes (nature) or through parental behaviour (nurture). In a 2014 study, the α-endomannosidase gene was found to be associated with panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. On the nurture front, research has shown that anxious parents are more likely to visibly doubt their child’s competency and less likely to grant autonomy. Most likely, both genetics and environment play a part. As always though it’s important to remember that genes aren’t destiny. Just because it’s in your family denims doesn’t mean it will be passed to you, and if it is passed down, you won’t necessarily do anxiety in the same way as the people who came before you. Anxiety can be managed and treated and awareness is a powerful change agent.

  2. Anxiety can be physically painful.

    Anxiety has a strong physical basis. Every physical symptom is a direct result of the body’s fight or flight response. When the brain senses a threat (real or imagined – it doesn’t care) it will surge the body with hormones – cortisol adrenaline and noradrenaline – to provide the physical resources to fight for life or run for it. Physical symptoms can include a tightening around the chest, headaches, nausea, muscle tension, heart palpitations and tummy trouble. Anxiety hurts. It’s different for everyone but the physical response is just as real as the emotional one. For a detailed explanation on the physical symptoms of anxiety and where they come from, see here.

  3. Exercise can reduce anxiety.

    We already know that anxiety is the body’s fight or flight response in full swing. When there is nothing to fight and nothing to flee, the stress hormones that are surging around have nowhere to go so they build up, bringing with them the physical symptoms of anxiety. Physical activity is the natural end to the fight or flight response. Exercise helps to balance out the neurochemicals that contribute to anxiety.

  4. Anxiety can confuse the sense of smell.

    Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that people with anxiety have a greater tendency to label neutral smells as bad smells. Typically, when processing smells it’s only the olfactory (smelling) system that gets activated. When a person becomes anxious the emotional system becomes intertwined with the olfactory processing system.

  5. Anxiety can interfere with balance.

    Anxious people tend to get dizzy without any identifiable cause. Studies have also shown that they sway more than non-anxious people as well.

  6. People with anxiety are quicker to perceive changes in facial expressions.

    People with anxiety are quicker to pick up on changes in facial expressions than those without anxiety BUT they are less accurate. The tendency to jump to conclusions means that highly anxious people will often make mistakes when trying to infer other people’s emotional states and intentions. Understandably, this has a way of creating tension and conflict in relationships. The take-away? If you’re the anxious one, keep in mind that even though you think you know what others are thinking or feeling, you’re not necessarily right. Your speedy powers of perception might have fed you a misread.

  7. Certain diets can influence anxiety.

    A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that people who followed a ‘traditional’ diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and whole grains tended to be less anxious compared to those who followed a ‘western’ diet of processed or fried foods, refined grains, sugary products and beer.

  8. Anxiety widens personal space.

    Everybody has an invisible zone of personal space around them. The closer we are to someone, the further they are allowed into our personal space zone. The preferred personal space zone differs for everyone but generally it’s about 20-40cm away from our face. Closer than that and we’re stepping back. For anxious people, their personal space zone is wider.

  9. Performance anxiety? Nah. Excited.

    Research by the Harvard Business School has shown that anxiety around performance is better managed by getting excited. The secret is in the relabelling. The way we talk about our feelings has an enormous impact on the way we feel. Both anxiety and excitement have a lot of the same physical elements. Labelling a feeling as ‘anxious’ brings to mind thoughts of what might go wrong. Reinterpreting it as ‘excited’ brings on a more positive emotional state.

  10. Your friends actually think you’re pretty fabulous.

    People with social anxiety often think they don’t come across well socially. They also tend to believe that they’re friendships aren’t very high quality. According tonew research however, people – particularly friends – think they’re pretty fabulous. Possibly due to the sensitivity – oversensitivity – to others, by the time socially anxious people speak, their words are well considered and ready to leave an impression – which they often do. If you struggle with from socially anxiety, think twice before declining a social offer – when you let people see you, they really like you. You’re not likely to believe this just because you’ve read it here but next time you’re out, act as though it’s true. It will make a difference to you and to the way you’re seen.

  11. Anxiety also comes with strengths.

    Nothing about us is all good or all bad – nothing. If you’ve struggled with anxiety, for all the angst it causes you, it’s also helped to shape the person you’ve become – the choices you make, the friend you are, the partner, colleague, sister, brother, leader or employee you are. Don’t think of anxiety as a disease, a failure or an inadequacy. It’s not. It’s just another aspect of that needs attention sometimes. It’s part of being human and the sometimes beautiful, sometimes messy, sometimes extraordinary art that it is.

Why Anxiety Is The Plague Of The Modern World

Anxiety is feeling like a swarm of rats is eating your soul. Depression is feeling like it’s already been eaten. Raise your hand if you spend your time cycling between both.

Hey, me too! High five. Sorry my hand is wet — I sweat when I get nervous, and that caused me to drop my phone in the toilet. Give me five minutes to tell you why anxiety is trying to murder you.

Some of you just graduated college, or just lost a job, or are getting over a breakup. You have an unspoken assumption that your anxiety is due to the battle you’re fighting, and that once you push through, you’ll get a break. You’re wrong; right behind this fight is another one. It’s like that one video game where you have to fight a series of increasingly powerful characters across several “levels.” (I don’t remember what it was called. I remember one part had lava.)

Your anxiety isn’t going anywhere.

If you don’t figure out how to manage it, you’ll die.

Yes, I recognize the irony in me making you anxious about your anxiety levels, so here are a bunch of numbers:

The suicide rate is at a 30-year high

… and that article points out that’s it’s just a symptom. We’re also seeing “surges in deaths from drug overdoses … liver disease and alcohol poisoning.” Death via all the shit we pour into our system to keep the gnawing soul rats at bay.

This is absolutely a new problem. Among high school and college students, rates of depressionwent up as much as 800 percent over 70 years, and prescriptions for antidepressantsexploded 400 percent among adults just from 1988 to 2011. The weirdest stat of all? Anti-depression treatments are becoming less effective with time. That’s right, we’ve somehow evolved a strain of medication-resistant anxiety.

“Well of course,” you say, “That’s because the world has gone insane! Everyone is anxious/depressed for a reason!”

Oh, you’re anxious for a reason, alright. But it’s not because the world is worse — there were far more bad jobs, bad marriages, and nagging health issues 100 years ago.

It’s because, wait for it …

Your anxiety is profitable to others.

I’m going to give you two mind-boggling stats that actually make perfect sense if you stop and think about them a bit:

When people are asked if they are satisfied with the direction of society, about 70 percent say no, that everything is going to shit. Only a quarter or so say they’re satisfied.

But when the exact same polling service asks people if they’re satisfied with how their own lives are going, an astounding 85 percent of people say they are.

One could theorize, then, that we are in a world full of people who are getting along fairly well and even enjoying themselves much of the time. People who would decline an invitation to body-switch with another random person on earth (“I could wind up in Africa or something!”) or in history (“Before the internet? How did people even live?”), and thus recognize that they have it better than most. Yet they are continuously being bombarded by voices insisting they they could lose it all at any moment.

Why? Well, remember that on a biological level, anxiety exists for a reason. It’s supposed to motivate you to act. A cave person sees their food is running low, they feel anxiety about it, and that makes them to go kill a woolly mammoth. Then, as a reward, their anxiety subsides.

Modern mass media has figured out how to “hack” this instinct.

This isn’t a dark conspiracy, because there’s no unified goal here — they’re all pulling you in a different direction. Whether it’s triggering fear to make you click on their article or buy their newspaper …

… or triggering your guilt over consuming certain things (by cleverly implying theirs is “guilt-free”) …

… or implying that you have been enlisted to fight a culture war, and that the battlefield is literally every mundane human interaction in your day-to-day life.

This chorus of voices will tell you that you should be devoting more time and energy to your career (by shaming you for being poor), but also that you should devote more time and energy to socializing (by shaming you for being a friendless virgin). They shame you for your weight, but then make it clear that all of the really cool people eat and drink with abandon. They mock your nerdy clothes and then scold you for being too obsessed with physical appearances.

They don’t want you to panic, oh no — panic would mean burning cars in the streets. They just want you to always be living with that low-level hum of anxiety at the edge of your senses, like a wasp buzzing around your ceiling 24 hours a day.

Your biology wasn’t built for that.

It’s killing you.

Thus, when people finally stumble across something that seems to alleviate their anxiety — namely, marijuana — they freaking worship that shit. They wear T-shirts and hats covered with cannabis leaves. They listen to songs singing its praises. That’s how badly they want the rats to stop gnawing on them.

So what can you do?

Haha, wouldn’t it be amazing if I actually had a one-sentence cure for the plague of the industrialized world? The closest I could offer would be “Have you tried just not giving a shit?” but that won’t do. You have to give a certain number of shits just to stay alive. For every truly carefree person I know, there’s a nervous friend or family member who has to keep a “bail out my carefree friend” fund on hand for the next time that free spirit gets an eviction notice.

No, my plan is slightly more detailed, in that it has two parts instead of just the one:

1. Recognize that your attention is a limited resource which must be spent carefully … and that pushing yourself too hard can put you in the fucking ground.

2. Realize that a lot of the things clamoring for your attention are the equivalent of inbox spam.

That is, it’s junk mail sent by other people to trick you into feeling anxious in a way that will indirectly benefit them. The key is learning to filter it.

So if anxiety is intended to be a motivator for positive action, then you must only spend it on things that you can actually affect with action. Otherwise, it’s spam. Examples:

— You are made to feel ashamed about a personal attribute you have no control over (height, facial features, penis girth, race, gender, sexuality). — You are upset because a person you are very nice to doesn’t enjoy your company (you have no power over others’ response to you). — You feel a jolt of anger in your gut every time a religious/political/cultural group you find repulsive shows up in your news feed, upsetting you with their mere existence.

Now, if the thing you are having anxiety about is something you can affect with action but issomeone else’s agenda, it’s also spam. Examples:

— Someone is trying to shame you over your job/partner/body, even though you yourself are happy with them. — Someone is trying to shame you for the harmless hobbies you enjoy. — Someone is trying to shame you because your life doesn’t look exactly like theirs.

You must learn to use the same technique taught in rehab and anger management classes: You have to stop, step outside of the emotion, and say, “I am feeling anxiety about this. Should I?”

Image result for anxiety world

If the answer is no, you can now deploy that psychological trump card known as Not Giving A Shit.

It’s not easy. It’s a skill you’ll have to practice for the rest of your life. Still, recognizing the need to do it is a massive step, since most of us accept anxiety as the background noise of everyday life (to the point where we actually get confused when it’s not there, the way city folk get freaked out by natural silence when they try to go camping). This technique requires you to regard your own peace of mind as a precious resource that is under continuous assault, and to reflexively defend it. A sort of martial art of the mind which involves strategically deploying or withholding your shit-giving as needed. I call it Noshitsu.

But be warned: Your enemies have been honing their techniques for a very long time. Still, with vigilance and repetition, I know for a fact that you, too, can become a Noshitsu master. Then, hopefully, you can come back and teach me.

Man-Meditating

The Gift of Anxiety: 7 Ways to Get the Message and Find Peace

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~Pema Chodron

If there’s one thing that has led me the greatest amount of re-invention, it’s anxiety. By anxiety I don’t mean worry or concern. Anxiety is a different animal that grabs a hold of you and halts you in your tracks.

We tend to reject its milder forms and are really terrified by its intense moments, like with panic attacks. It’s difficult to see when we’re fighting with anxiety that it can have any benefit, but it does.

Anxiety comes with some great treasures hidden inside, and they can be yours if you know how to get to them. First, you have to stop fighting and listen to the anxiety for clues.

Getting the Message

The greatest truth about anxiety is that it is a message. Anxiety is not the real issue. It’s the voice of something else lying beneath that’s calling out to you.

Most people who experience anxiety try to go after the symptoms more than its cause and try to fight it off as if it were the only thing to deal with.

That’s not how to go about it if you ever want to know how it happened, why it’s there, and how you can gain long-term freedom from it.

STOP! YOU’RE HURTING!

The anxiety message is simple; it’s just three words: STOP! YOU’RE HURTING!

When an experience like anxiety is pleading for you to stop and notice that you’re hurting, and you know this, your next step is to find that hurt. Its severity is proportionate to the scope of what you have to address—so if you feel like you’re going to die, look for something big!

Its methods of stopping you are varied and some of the common ones are: spinning thoughts, feeling disassociated, heavy breathing, and a racing heart. Whatever works so that you’ll finally pay attention, it will customize for you.

The loudest stop message can appear as a panic attack and causes a sensation that you feel like you’re going to die. Dying is the ultimate definition of stopping within our physical experience, and that’s why we can feel that way.

The good news is that it’s an illusion. Anxiety will not hurt you in that way; but until you catch on, start listening, and heal the source of the messages, it will keep trying to spin you around so that you’re facing it long enough to hear what it’s trying to say.

“Hey! I’m talking to you! Is she still ignoring me? UGH! Ok body, it’s your turn. Make her feel like her heart will explode. HA! You stopped working overtime didn’t you? Gotcha! Now look…we need to talk…What? Now you’re hiding in a movie? Oh no you didn’t! PANIC ATTACK!”

Energy Conservation

Anxiety can feel cyclic as it persists, and it’s easy to feel haunted or trapped by it. You’re always in control though. The body, a part of nature, always seeks a point of balance and rest. When anxiety becomes cyclic and seemingly out of your control, it’s still just a part of you.

It’s being maintained by you, for you, until it gets enough of your attention for healing to take place. Whatever you keep doing or ignoring (maybe the things that led to its nascence) will continue to recreate it until you go about things differently.

This is an important realization because it can help you shift from feeling victimized to feeling empowered. It can only continue as long as you delay tending to what’s beneath the message. Anxiety cannot cause you to feel discomfort forever. It will motivate you to heal, and then leave once you do.

Who/What Sent the Message?

Anxiety messages can come from anything negative you’ve chosen to carry forward. It can be a traumatic or painful event left unresolved (usually through having had an attitude of sucking-it-up, being tough, trying to forget etc.).

It can be someone or something you have yet to forgive, or a long running perception of lack that has hindered your growth for too long.

My anxiety disorder came from high insecurity, an excessive need for validation, a frantic quest for completion through relationships, and an inability to acknowledge who I really was.

I ran around trying to please others and attempting to be who they wanted me to be. On the anniversary of a particularly painful breakup, where I convinced myself I had become less than a full person, I had my first panic attack.

It completely bowled me over and continued to do so for 4 years as it tried to get me stop and heal.

It worked. The experience of an anxiety so severe that I couldn’t leave my apartment was completely successful in making me turn my gaze away from the outside world to my inner world, where I seriously needed to focus. I could finally heal and grow.

Who I became next was a happy, empowered, compassionate person who was more focused on matters of the heart and fulfilling myself than approval from others. Anxiety became my greatest life-shifting gift, and I’m forever grateful.

Receiving the Message

Spending time with anxiety to discover the source of the message and what you have to heal can be achieved in many ways. You have to find what works best for you, but here’s a great series of approaches that seem to help everybody:

1. Welcome it.

Make friends and peace with anxiety immediately. Talk to yourself and the anxiety reassuringly: It’s ok. I’m listening. I want to hear what you have to say. I know you’re just trying to get my attention and that the more directly and peacefully I listen, the sooner you’ll stop repeating yourself.

Fighting with anxiety or resisting it will cause it to persist.

2. Write about it.

I know it’s trite to journal since it’s a suggested solution to most personal troubles, but the slower pace of writing and full engagement of your senses helps you travel down the path of the anxiety message to its source.

We don’t always know where our anxiety is coming from, so we have to take the time to dig and poke. Plus, we’re literal people. Our thoughts are literal. By using a linguistic mechanism the analogy of anxiety message becomes more clear and easier to work with.

3. Laugh.

Bring more laughter in your life. It will help you take life less seriously.

4. Love.

Express love for people, places, and things that you cherish. Be a greater beacon of love.

5. Help others with their anxiety.

The more people you help with anxiety, the greater a vocabulary you’ll develop, and this will help empower your inner dialog for when you’re sitting with anxiety.

6. Meditate.

Anxiety races thoughts and can be very distracting. With a rushing mind, it’s hard to hear the anxiety message and follow it back to its source. Meditation helps tremendously.

If you can learn to notice your thoughts without attaching to them—seeing them as cars passing by as you stand on the edge of a busy highway—you’ll become better at picking out what really matters in this moment.

7. Realize that you are enough.

Be accountable, no matter how much “such and such/so and so did” to you. It doesn’t matter. Now is what we have to work with. Tomorrow is what we have to create.

Realize that you are your own solution. You have what you need to look clearly; to hear and to heal. Anxiety is a message born within you, speaking to you through you, and therefore it’s within you to heal.

Receiving the Gifts

By learning about anxiety, spending time with it and finally holding in your hand, you can enjoy the next step: You can relax your grip, and let it fall away. It will have served its purpose. You will have loved that part of yourself and it won’t need to get your attention with such a difficult message again.

You will be connected. That’s the first gift.

The second gift is that feeling connected and with realizing that you’re enough can lead you to a cycle of inner fullness. It can give you an easy-to-remember awareness that you’re up for this, whatever the next exciting challenge or painful event may be.

The third gift of anxiety is that it gets you to recognize your own power with, instead of power over, yourself and your life.

All you had to do was listen…

By Ariella Baston