Here are the top 5 mistakes people make with anxiety:
1. Trying to fight it
2. Trying to distract yourself from it
3. Trying hard to get rid of it
4. Having a go at yourself about it
5. Feeling guilty for having it
The reality is this, we all need anxiety and stress. They are healthy and are there to help us stay one step ahead of life which can be cruel and challenging. Learning to change your relationship with it will help reduce the power it has which inhibits your life and help motivate you to make better choices and changes for a healthier life. Anxiety is simply the Limbic System (survival and emotional part of the brain) kicking into action because it’s processing a prediction as dangerous emotionally or physically.
In each given moment your subconscious is scanning the short term future for any dangers which could affect you emotions or physical wellbeing. It will process every possible danger it can using past memories and hard wired evolution programs and get you to act accordingly so you avoid the dangers that may come your way. Limbic Systems under pressure can over react creating all sorts of predictions which are out of context with reality but feel all too real for the recipient and get them to act in ways which are over reactive. Most clients are deeply frustrated, ashamed and feel guilt by their over reactions which just adds more pressure to the Limbic System making it worse.
If you do any of the top 5 then you simply add more pressure to that part of the brain. It’s like stoking the fire and expecting the flames to go down when in fact they will rise higher and heat things up. Anxiety is not your fault and it can be there for many reasons. It needs compassion, understanding and ways of working with it that doesn’t increase pressure to the limbic system.
Sometimes we need to look at our unhelpful belief systems which can cause extra stress through seeing the world and the people around us in darker ways than necessary. For example the pressure to be perfect in various situations including travelling, social events or even going to the supermarket can cause irrational responses from an overworked limbic system. The fear of looking or feeling anxious and not looking perfect or “normal” can send some people into experiencing panic attacks. Learning to mindfully accept anxiety may pop up in given situations paradoxically tends to also reduce it’s intensity and it becomes easier to let it simply pass. Of course it’s not nice to experience but you could remember more often that you are strong enough and capable of letting it be there in your awareness until it no longer becomes that important. You can’t be perfect at that either and that’s ok, it’s doing it more often that matters.
Sometimes we need to change aspects of our lifestyles to help the brain relax more. If you find that you are fighting yourself when it comes to those changes then therapy is a good idea to reach a resolution with any inner conflict.
There is no winner when it comes to fighting yourself or fighting anxiety.
Let’s do something different as life’s too short to be in battle when you could have a bit more peace in what can be a crazy world at times.
If you would like some help in learning how to accepting anxiety and ending the war, then contact me for a chat. Skype and Facetime sessions available or you can come and have a chat about anxiety therapy in my office in Brighton and Hove. East Sussex.