“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
~ Anais Nin
Let’s look at an old friend – Anxiety. Earl Nightingale once said that 92% of what you worry about will never occur. Many of us realize this, but we still worry- often to the point of anxiety.
Anxiety is composed of thoughts infused with emotions. We keep thinking the thoughts which rile up our emotions, and suddenly this state of anxiety starts becoming automatic, and a terrible cycle develops. We hold ourselves back from opportunities and we sabotage our relationships, feeling helpless all the while.
But you’re not helpless.
Lets try something. Let’s put our mental gear into neutral for a minute and look at the nature of thought.
When you look at your thoughts for what they are, what do you see? Nothing. You realize that thoughts have no weight, no smell, no taste- they’re not even real.
Our mind is like a river, just flowing thoughts down stream. When we get stuck in an eddy of uncomfortable thoughts, we just swirl and swirl and swirl.
Now let’s add emotion. Interestingly, where thoughts are not real, emotions are VERY real.
We feel emotions from our head to our toes. Whether or not the thought behind the emotion is real, panic can kick in and send the body into a primal state of fight or flight. Once you feel that signature shortness of breath, it only deepens the panic the mind feels.
Unless you take back control.
Stop thinking. Take a deep breath. Open your eyes. Take another deep breath.
Did you know it’s not possible to breath deeply and have an anxiety attack? Long slow breaths tell the body everything is okay, which in turn sends signals to the brain that there is no real threat.
Can you now ‘see’ your thoughts? Can you separate your emotion from your thoughts?
Most clients return to a state of peace when they learn to vaporize the anxiety through realization it is merely a thought. This step, however, takes awareness and work.
Look at this way- babies do not experience anxiety – it has to be ‘taught’ to you. And that which has been learned can be unlearned through awareness, perception, and realization.
Anxiety can be unlearned – I wish I could just list the 4 steps to living anxiety free, or the 3 steps to living in peace, but it’s not quite that easy. If you experience anxiety, it takes a bit of work to free yourself from your self-created bondage.
However, the people I have worked with have done it and so can you by choosing to understand the nature of your thought.
You have to choose to unlearn and step back into the space of a child- back when the world was an adventurous place to be. Back when life was simply wild.
So for now, begin to see your anxiety as thoughts (not real) which are combined with emotions (very real). You are creating a mirage – it seems that you see it, yet the closer you get, it disappears. Unlike a mirage in the desert though, anxiety feeds upon itself and literally clouds up your state of mind, until the only real thing is a cloud of anxiety. But’s it’s not even real.
This week, become aware of the thoughts which create your anxiety. They are just thoughts. Without emotions, they are just thoughts. With emotion, your reality is clouded in anxiety. When you take the emotion away, you are empowered to choose a new thought.
Try choosing one which empowers you.
Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen