Are you an anxious person?
I’m currently typing this blog from the seat of an airplane, and the pilot just announced there is turbulence up ahead.
My mind is currently racing.
Like, what if the plane crashes? It can’t crash, I’m pregnant, and I have kids! I can’t die yet. And if the plane crashes and I don’t die, will I be injured? Will this be like an episode of Survivor? I don’t want to hunt for my food on an island using nothing but a stick I whittled with a rock. How would I shave my legs???
I’m not kidding here. This is what my brain is doing.
My anxious thoughts make a regular appearance every night after the lights are off.
For some people, the anxious thoughts happen like clock-work every morning, every time they eat a meal, or every time their mother-in-law comes over unannounced.
For years, I tried to make the anxiety go away. I believed that if I didn’t have to deal with these thoughts that made me feel sick to my stomach, then I would be free.
So I spent most of my life (literally, as early as I can remember) trying to numb out the anxiety. Medication, alcohol, excessive exercise, boys, sex, shopping, chocolate, you name it, I did it. And it didn’t work. I would go to bed the next night, and anxiety would be there waiting for me.
Two years ago, through my own self-coaching, I decided to try something completely different.
I decided to make anxiety my friend.
AND IT WORKS!
And now that you think I’m insane, listen up!
I’m going to tell you exactly what I did, so that you can kick anxiety out of your bed, and life, as well.
How to Make Friends with Anxiety (in just 3 steps)
STEP 1:Anxiety is just a feeling, and feelings can’t kill you.
For me, anxiety manifests as a tightening in my stomach, much like what you experience in the “drop” of a roller coaster. It’s helpful to know that this feeling will not produce cataclysmic results in the world.
What does anxiety feel like for you? Describe the physical sensations in your body.
STEP 2:Recognize your FEELING of anxiety is caused by a THOUGHT.
Here's an analogy for ya: You're FEELING is the gas tank, and your THOUGHT is the fuel. So what type of fuel are you putting in the tank? Is it clean fuel? Or anxiety-producing fuel?
My thoughts often sound like this: “my husband thinks I’m fat” and “I can’t believe I said that in the meeting today." These are useless thoughts that cause me to relive my INTERPRETATION of experiences in the PAST. Most of the time, my thoughts aren't even truthful. They are steeped in insecurity and a feeling of limited self-worth.
What a weird way to expend energy, right?
STEP 3:Talk to the feeling of anxiety.
Yeah, that’s right. Talk to it. Catch those thoughts in action, as they play out in your head. Acknowledge them and say “hey anxiety, I see you. It’s okay you can hang for a while, but I’m going to need you to leave soon.”
Seriously, I’m being serious. I didn’t make this shit up.
When we talk to ourselves about our feelings, we help demystify them in our own mind. Uncomfortable feelings become something we recognize and can then tolerate. When we talk to our feelings out loud, we are taking the intangible, placing it outside our body, and analyzing it.
I invited the feeling in, let it lay down, and recognized it as just an emotion. I was also able to recognize how "un-factual" the corresponding thought was.
I stopped fighting the anxiety, buffering it, ignoring it, or shouting over it. I just accepted it. That's when Anxiety lost its power over me.
Now the interesting news is, I still have anxious feelings and thoughts today (the good news is, my plane is still in the air and the turbulence was just a bump. Huh).
ANXIETY HAS NO POWER OVER ME!
I don’t fight it or give it any power. I just let it be. And without any power behind it, the anxious feeling and thought just go away.
I am, however, starting to think about how great it would be to star in the show Survivor. I’ve always been a dramatic person, and I’m pretty sure I would rock a loin cloth.
Once this plane lands, I’m gonna start sending emails to Hollywood producers. I’m feeling a potential second career coming on. Does anyone know a casting agent I could get in touch with … ? :)