How many times have you thought, "I don't want to feel anxious" or "I want my anxiety to go away"? More time than you can count, right? So here's the reason that anxiety won't go away...it actually has a very important job, which is to keep you safe and to help you control your impulses. Did you know that a fear of heights actually has more to do with being afraid that you won't control your impulse to jump? Let that sink in for a moment...
So fighting your anxiety, wanting it to go away, wishing that you could strangle it...all of that resistance has set up a really challenging relationships between you and your anxiety. You might say that you perceive each other as enemies! So how does one go about turning an enemy into an ally, even a friend? I have heard that Mahatma Ghandi was a master at this. He would "feed" his enemy (the English officers sent to get him to end the strikes) by delaying the officers fear based conversation and offering them tea and biscuits. He would then share his dreams and goals while they shared this "civilized" ritual of tea. Every time the Enemy (British officer) would attempt to bring his fear to the table, Ghandi would continue to feed him, infusing the tea and biscuits with love based information about his cause. It worked like a charm, by the time the officer was ready to leave, he had a better understanding of Ghandi and his cause. They parted as ally's toward a common goal of peace.
Now you are saying to yourself, "Yeah, great story, but how do my anxiety and I learn to appreciate each other and get along?" Great question and thanks for asking ;-).
1) When we remember that Anxiety's job is to keep us safe and monitor our impulses, we "feed" it by acknowledging this very important job that it does (you like it when you spouse or boss or some other random person in your life acknowledges you, right?)
2) Then remind it that you are not hard of hearing and that it can turn the volume down a bit.
3) Once the volume is turned down, have a civil conversation with your anxiety and work to come to an understanding about who is in charge (You are, in case you were wondering) and how you are going to learn to work together better than you have up to this point.
Personifying and externalizing (big fancy words for "pretend your anxiety is a person standing in front of you") your anxiety allows you to interact with it and move from feeling that it is in control and an enemy to be feared to working together to become allies and even friends!
So here we are, at the very beginning of a new year....is this the year that you and your Anxiety are going to learn to appreciate each other? Will you become a Team in 2017???
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor