Is anxiety getting in the way of you living the life you want?
Does it dictate where you are going to go or who you will have lunch with? If so, there may be a lesson here and it may not be what you think.
1.) Learn to observe your emotions
Anxiety is often labelled as “bad”. Yes, it certainly feels like an intruder but is it necessarily bad? If we learn to observe our emotions rather than being hijacked by them, we can begin to sail our own ship. Anxiety is quite a well used word in society these days. The word has developed a life of its own. As a practitioner of ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Training, I teach individuals to observe strong feelings, including anxiety. Learning to observe without evaluation is an important tool in getting to know your anxiety for what it really is.
2.) Open up to your anxiety
Underneath anxiety lives a range of other emotions that may be asking for attention. For instance, sadness, fear, loneliness, regret, jealousy even anger. If we fail to address these feelings appropriately in our lives they will often show up as anxiety. Taking a pause to breath and notice what else is present will help with recognizing this. It may be sadness or helplessness from when your were a child and witnessed violence or fear and anger as a result of being raised by an abusive parent. Part of your history may be suppressed and showing up as anxiety. Stay curious and learn about yourself. Asking “What else is inside of these feelings of anxiety”?
3.) Look at the flip side of anxiety
Your deepest yearnings live on the other side of anxiety. I have never met one person with GAD, or social anxiety that did not want to connect with people. If you are struggling with an emotion, stop and flip it over. What does this emotion suggest? Usually it will point toward what you really care about. Maybe you yearn to connect with others but there is a deep fear that you are not good enough. This is a yearning… to connect with others.
How do we walk through anxiety and get to the life we really want?
Develop psychological strength and flexibility. This means being in touch with the ebb and flow of your internal experiences including your thoughts, emotions, memories, urges and sensations yet holding them lightly enough that you direct your energy and actions toward your goals, values and aspirations.