Why you’ll never get over anxiety

anxietyEven though I’ve read hundreds of self help books, I’m a NLP coach and hypnotherapist I still get anxious. Every time I do something outside of my comfort zone where the outcome is uncertain, I feel sick in my stomach and my heart races. Not even projecting myself into a future where it has all turned out brilliantly really works — because sometimes I fuck up what I’m doing (especially if I’ve never done it before).

I don’t get anxious because I’m un-evolved, spiritually deficient or lacking in self-esteem — it’s because it’s a natural human response to the unknown: hard-wired into us from the beginning of time.

But if it something I really want to do, I don’t try to change the negative thoughts into positive ones, I don’t try to suppress them and I don’t stop what I’m doing to relieve the discomfort. These techniques cause more harm than good.

negative thoughts will always be there

I listen to the thought in my head “you’re not good enough” and instead of believing it I recognise that thoughts are simply words and pictures without power. I distance myself by saying “I’m having the thought that I’m not good enough.” Then I acknowledge that I am more than my thoughts by saying “I notice that I’m having the thought that I’m not good enough.” It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but when you do it, it changes your relationship to the thought.

hanging on to the thought or pushing it away is wasted energy

I let the thoughts slide by like songs on a radio in the background. It is just a story that I don’t have to buy in to. I don’t have to spend precious energy suppressing the story or distracting myself. It is what it is. All thoughts, like feelings are transient.

focus on the feeling

Thoughts produce physical reactions in our bodies which we interpret as feeling. Anxiety makes our heart race, our stomachs sick and our heads throb. Pinpoint the location of the physical sensation and breathe into it. Explore the colour, shape, texture, temperature and sound of the feeling. Allow it to inhabit your body knowing that it can’t cause more than a little discomfort and the more you welcome it the sooner it will lose its intensity.

be present

Concentrate on whatever the task at hand is. If you’re giving  speech notice the paper your notes are on, the objects in the room, the faces of the people looking back at you and the message you want to convey. Inhabit the moment second by second without the distraction of worrying about how it will end up.

re-define success

A successful outcome doesn’t always mean perfection or not making a mistake. Making errors is the only way we learn and grow and although they might cause us pain or embarrassment, we are fully equipped to deal with those feelings. Success is having a go, doing what matters to you and making a life of meaning. “I am being the person I want to be by doing this.”

Confidence is not a feeling of certainty or fearlessness, confidence is acting with faith and with trust. You know in your heart that no matter what you think or feel or what the outcome, you are doing what is important to you because it’s who you really are.

Does anxiety show up in your life? Do you have a strategy for dealing with it? Do your thoughts and feelings sometimes hold you back from doing what matters?

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About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

13 thoughts on “Why you’ll never get over anxiety

    1. Dancing is such a beautiful way to put it — especially if you call anxiety but its other names — excitement, anticipation, or being buzzed.

  1. Yes, yes it does. It’s particularly present now that I’m experiencing something I’ve never done before and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. My mom’s in the hospital on her last leg and I have no prior experience to help guide me thru. Thanks for sharing this, it ironically enough makes me feel less anxious.

    1. I have a whole post to write on death and grief but the short version is that nothing will make it OK (it always feels horrible losing someone) but the way to get through it is to surround yourself with love. The love that you had for the person who left, the love of those who are grieving with you and the love of those men and women who make your mother’s final days as comfortable as possible. Death brings out our desire to nurture and care for each other and to make every moment we have count — welcome that along with the pain. My thoughts are with you at this time x

  2. Does anxiety show up in your life? Every FUCKING day!
    Strategy for dealing with it? Many – meditate on it, sit with it, feel it, tap on it, say fuck it ;).
    Does it hold me back. Sometimes but mostly I embrace it in order to move forward.

  3. Anxious every day for me too – I like the way it makes me think on my feet and the buzz it can provide. I don’t like the heart palpitations but then again – shows that the body reponds to how you are feeling!!! How do I deal with it? ummmm I don’t – it’s just a part of life 😉

  4. Yes-anxiety is part of life; we need to learn to use it rather than fight it.

    Another thought came to me whilst reading the “re-define success” part of your post; actually accepting success, accepting compliments when people like whatever it is we’ve done is a huge part of being successful rather than constantly being down on ourselves, pointing out our own faults and negativities. This can help to lessen the anxiety too if we just accept when people tell us we are good at whatever it is we are working at. 🙂

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