If you’re looking for anxiety cures, here’s one that I’ve found to be immediately effective at calming anxiety, even though it may seem odd at first glance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well this works to overcome anxiety.
The Problem With Anxiety
Everybody has anxious, fearful thoughts. They are simply part of being human.
You can’t get rid of them. No one can. And it wouldn’t even be safe to live without the protective power of fear.
Actually, it’s not humanly possible to be entirely anxiety free! But you can become free from the pain of anxiety.
Here’s what I mean.
There is only one small difference between a person who is free from anxiety and one who suffers from anxiety. The difference?
The person who is free from anxiety no longer suffers when they have anxious thoughts. The emotions and body sensations that accompany anxiety no longer bother them.
But what about those anxious thoughts that spin around in your brain over and over?
They are like the old broken record – the needle caught in a scratch and replaying the same line over and over. How can I ignore them?
Those are the kind of anxious thought you can do something about.
Imagine how it might start. You are busy doing something, carrying on with your day…
…when a scary thought pops into your mind. You may not even notice the thought, but it’s likely you will notice what happens after.
You realize that where minutes ago, you were feeling just fine, now you’re emotionly upset.
You may be aware of the flood of sensation rushing through your body.
Your heart beats faster.
Your muscles tighten up.
You may feel it in the pit of your stomach or in your solar plexus. (The stomach is full of nerve endings and we often feel our emotions there.)
Because it’s hard to ignore the physical response, you might find yourself wondering,
“What caused this emotional state?”
“What happened to bring this on?”
“Was it something I thought?”
You trace your thoughts back to the one that caused the anxiety, then begin to question…
Why did I think that?
What’s the problem?
Why am I upset about that?
Why can’t I shake this bad feeling?
Most likely, you’d just like to let the thoughts and feelings go and return to your previously calm and productive state.
But the harder you try to quit thinking about it, the more persistant it gets. Know the expression, “Do not think of a pink elephant!”
Of course, everyone who hears that immediately thinks of a pink elephant. Whatever you focus on gets stronger. So telling your mind and body to quit being anxious is actually causing you to be more anxious.
What can you do instead? How can you you be free from anxiety, especially since I told you everyone will always have at least some anxious thoughts?
Anxiety Cures – Welcome Instead of Rejecting
The problem is that when we question, push away and reject the anxiety we’re feeling and the thoughts that led to the anxiety, we are increasing it.
What you resist persists.
So if resisting is making the anxiety stronger, what you need to do is the reverse of resisting. You need to welcome and invite the anxiety in.
Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But once you try this method, you’ll see how well it works.
It actually reminds of me of my pesky older brother, Jimmy. As a kid, Jimmy just loved teasing me. The reason – I was so fun to tease! I reacted by giving him exactly what he was hoping for: lots of attention.
It didn’t matter to my brother that I was crying, screaming, begging him to quit, calling for help, punching him and running away. He loved it! It increased his enjoyment and encouraged him to tease me more.
If I hadn’t reacted, or better yet, if I had invited him to tease me more, while just smiling with no other reaction…
…I’m sure he would have tired of pestering me.
Here’s how to use what I learned from my pesky brother to stop anxiety from pestering you.
Three Step Anxiety Cures
Let’s take these one at a time.
1. Greet Anxiety
By greeting, I mean to literally recognize that you have just noticed the voice and physiological reaction of anxiety. It’s helpful to mentally recognize the anxious thought. You can think something like…
“Well hello, anxious thought!”
“Anxiety, it’s you again. Hi!”
“Anxious thought, so nice of you to visit. Hello!”
Making a mental greeting is a helpful way of building your sense of control and of taking a powerful perspective, outside of anxiety looking in.
So first step is to recognize you’ve just had an anxious thought and to say “Hi” to that thought.
2. Name Anxiety
Now that you’ve recognized and greeted anxiety, the next step is to increase your powerful outside perspective by giving the anxious thought a label or name.
What you’ll find, by doing this practice, is that your anxious thoughts run in predictable patterns. They will be unique and typical to you.
Here are some common types of anxious thoughts. You can have fears of…
Poverty, going broke, running out of money, etc.
Being alone, loneliness
Looking bad – stupid, incompetent, irresponsible
Loss – of love, relationship, home, money, status, job, etc.
Another person’s safety and well-being
This list could go on for pages. My purpose in starting it is to give you a way to begin to label your own fearful thoughts.
Let this step be easy and quick. Just give your fearful thought a short name – just a few words.
You’ll name your fear, something like…
“Fear of getting sick.”
“Fear of going broke.”
“Fear of making a fool of myself.”
Take your words from Step One, Greet Anxiety, you’ll substitute your fear for the words anxiety or anxious thought. This will sound something like this (aloud or in your mind):
“Well hello, fear of making a fool of myself!”
“Fear of going broke, it’s you again. Hi!”
“Fear of getting sick, so nice of you to visit. Hello!”
As you are doing these steps, you are gaining perspective and distance from the anxiety and gaining power over it.
Now you’re ready for Step Three: Welcome
3. Welcome Anxiety
In this last step you are doing exactly what I should have done to my teasing brother – welcomed his teasing and quit fueling it by running from him or trying to push him away.
This step can be challenging, since your instinct is to run or push anxiety away because it feels bad and is often scary.
But the instinctual reaction doesn’t work in your favor. That’s why this last setp is so effective.
As with the first two steps, you can do this step mentally or aloud.
To be welcoming to anxiety, you do just as you would to a visitor to your home that you’re glad to see. Say things like…
“Hi, Fear of Failing! So glad you’ve come to visit. Stay as long as you like.”
“Fear of Making a Fool of Myself, how nice of you to stop by! Please, make yourself at home. I love it when you come!”
“Well hello, Fear of Dying Alone and Broke! Welcome! Come on in. What can I get you?”
You can have fun with this step and carry it to the extreme. Let yourself become melodramatic and really get into the role play of being extra welcoming to the anxious thoughts.
You’ll find, that as you do this process, you can compress the three steps into one. You can greet, label and welcome your anxiety all in one step.
When to Use This Process
Do this three-step Welcoming Anxiety process whenever you find yourself dwelling on being anxious …
…when you find yourself being anxious about being anxious.
Or when you hear the thoughts repeating themselves in your brain. When you’re obsessing about some fearful thought.
Just slip into Greeting, Naming and Welcoming.
To your wellness,
p.s. Leave a comment to help others. Tell us how this worked for you.
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