As part of being human we have been gifted with the ability to feel and experience life fully - from joy, happiness, fulfillment, love through to anger, depression and anxiety. In our "must have now" society many people are shutting themselves half down. They want to feel the joy and happiness of life but but don't want to deal with the shadows of our existence - the emotions which lurk in the darkness.
But here's the thing. To feel joy and happiness we must also learn to open the gates to the other emotions and that also includes anxiety. For when we attempt to hide, ignore or push away anxiety it will come back bigger and more intense and we also block the deep level of joy and happiness in our life.
Throughout my childhood until early thirties I experienced a lot of anxiety. The anxiety that is so overwhelming it feels like it is consuming your life. It was difficult. I tried to ignore it. It came back stronger. I tried to argue with it - its voice became louder than mine. I tried to push it away it pushed back harder. It was relentless.
I tried counsellors and hypnotherapists nothing helped. Some wanted to mask the anxiety through tools and techniques. Others wanted to over analysis my childhood without the focus on the here and now. Then I discovered something when I went to a meditation retreat in Scotland over ten years ago. It was so simply yet very powerful - acceptance and I would love to share it with you as well as my own healing journey from anxiety I developed as it truly helped me to break free from anxiety and also allow me to step forward and create the life I wanted - without anxiety holding me back.
1. Acceptance of anxiety
Anxiety is a natural part of our life and the way our bodies are designed. When we begin to accept anxiety there is no inner conflict and no fight for power in our inner world. It's a letting go of the old ways and begin to embrace a new relationship with anxiety with the focus on acceptance. Just begin to notice the difference when there is acceptance of anxiety over inner conflict.
2. Learn from anxiety
Our bodies has it's own innate intelligence. It offers a way to communicate which goes beyond our conscious mind and thoughts. Sometimes anxiety is telling you that there is something that you need to let go off. To heal. To change your mind-set. To learn more about yourself. The anxiety is the voice of your body that something is unresolved and it's giving you a clear message it's time to resolve it. Learn to listen to it.
3. Anxious mind-set
Thoughts have a huge impact on the body. When people are stuck in their anxious mind-set it becomes fixed and is more critical and judging it creates more anxiety. Know you can step out of this anxious mindset and into something more powerful - the growth and learner mind-set. This allows you to use this an opportunity of learning, growth and development rather than being stuck in the cycle of anxiety.
4. You are not your anxiety
I see this a lot. People use anxiety to form their identity. You are not your anxiety. It's something you experiencing. It may feel like it is part of your personality but it's not. You are so much more than anxiety and when you realise this you will see how small anxiety actually is. It's easy to make anxiety a big part of your life and I am speaking as someone who has personally experienced this - but it's not. It's simply how you respond to your anxiety. When you change that you will change your relationship with anxiety.
5. Grow from anxiety
See the anxiety as simply an opportunity to grow, develop and become more of who you are. When some of my clients first came to see me were so afraid of anxiety, they hid in their lives and created a life style which kept them safe and out anxiety's way. They allowed anxiety to restrict who they are and how they showed up in the world. When you use this as an opportunity to grow and develop a whole new world emerges for you to live from. You will stop hiding and allow yourself to fully show up in the world. Just think for a moment the how much difference that will make in your life.
6. Move your body
Sometimes anxiety is just an energy and it gets stuck in your body so it's essential to move your body. Walk, move your body, exercise and even dance! Just move. If you can't get to a gym there are some excellent online fitness programmes. I use fitness blenders and can highly recommend them. Movement helps the body to release and to let go. As humans we are simply not designed to sit in front of our laptops 8 hours a day, then the TV a night. Move your body at every opportunity you get.
7. Let anxiety flow
Anxiety at times just flows in and out of our lives. It's not a lesson. It's not an opportunity for growth. It is just there. Just let it flow in and out and soon it will be on its way. Sometimes I feel anxious as all humans do. Now rather than holding on it, fearing it and making it bigger I simply accept it's there and allow it to flow through. Sometimes it's a little messenger other times it is just flowing in and out.
8. Taking action
It's easy to revert back to our old ways of being. It is what we know and feel safe with despite how it makes us feel. Now is the time to take action. Begin to live your life without anxiety holding you back. Show up more. Step up more. Use your voice and allow yourself be heard. Focus not on anxiety but how you want to live your life.
Breaking free from anxiety
I wonder if you noticed that breaking free from anxiety is actually not about anxiety its self - it's about you and your response to anxiety. Change truly comes from within and through this change the anxiety will begin to change the way it shows up in your life.
This may take practice as the way you respond to anxiety has become habitual and your mind and body has got accustomed to responding in the old way. But know you can change the way you respond to anxiety and through this a new way will begin to emerge which will offer a new experience of life, deeper understanding of yourself, and experience more clarity and calmness .
Here is a beautiful poem from Rumi to remind us of this beautiful journey we call life.
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Begin to see anxiety as not something to fear but to learn, grow and develop from. If you know someone who experiences anxiety please share this blog with them.