A Curious Way for Coping with Anxiety
How to Deal With Anxiety by Changing the Way You Think About It – Curious Anxiety Self Help
This is the simplest and most effective anxiety self help method I’ve ever used. Instead of relying on the breath and trying to MAKE your mind and body calm down, like many anxiety remedies, this anxiety remedy uses your own sense of curiosity. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well this works.
When you are feeling anxious, when a panic attack comes, or you feel that wave of anxiety wash over you, it can be pretty frightening.
The bodily symptoms of anxiety – racing heart, jittery and energized body, all senses on alert, muscles tight – are enough to scare anybody.
Add to that the way your mind thinks up scary stuff that could happen, that might be happening …well it’s like you’re trying to scare yourself to death.
But it feels so real when it’s happening, it’s very difficult to do anything but be washed away by the terrorizing thoughts, frightening emotions and overwhelming physical sensations of anxiety.
And that’s why this method works so well. You don’t DO ANYTHING to try to MAKE yourself feel better. Because those treatments for anxiety seldom work anyway.
The Anxiety Cause – Looking Him In the Eye
Often, we don’t even know what the danger is that we’re feeling anxiety or panic about. And many times, that’s because we don’t want to look anxiety squarely in the eye.
Our fear is that what we see will be even more terrifying than what we’re experiencing right now.
Is this sounding familiar? When we’re following that line of reasoning, we’re not coping with anxiety very well.
If we look deep enough, we can find the mental source of our current stress. Often it’s worries and anxious thoughts that turn into doomsday thoughts and continue spiraling down and down.
I can’t handle it …I’m out of control …I’m going to fail …They’ll hate me …I’ll go broke …I’ll lose everything …I’m going to die.
But instead of looking inside for the source of our panic or anxiety, we just want to run. The feeling is that if we slow down to really look at what’s scaring us, we’ll be caught and won’t survive.
It really can feel like we’re back in the days of the caveman and being chased by a sabertooth tiger.
But sabertooth tigers are cats. Cats love chasing things that move.
That means running from your anxiety makes it worse.
It’s like the faster you run, the faster that unknown scary anxiety thing runs after you. You dare not look back, because you sense it’s right behind you and if you slow down, you’ll be caught.
This anxiety self help suggests you do the opposite of what you usually do. (And I know – just the idea of it can feel pretty scary at first.) But when you try it, you’ll feel its power immediately. Here’s the process…
You feel anxiety inside you, either that constant hum as the backdrop to all you do, or you feel that surge of unpleasant energy that signals a panic attack or flash of anxiety.
Step One: Notice Your Body
Notice the physical sensations you’re feeling that you recognize as anxiety or panic.
Label the sensations …mentally or aloud. This might sound like…
buzzing all over
Step Two: Notice Your Emotions
Notice what emotional label your mind is calling these physical sensations. Again, say these out loud or silently. You might label your emotions as…
Step Three: Notice and Label Your Thoughts
Now tune into the thoughts that are likely racing through your mind. Hear them, and give them a label. This might go like this:
Thought: I’m going to have a heart attack. Label: Fear of death
Thought: I can’t think when I’m anxious like this. Label: Fear of fear
Thought: Something terrible is going to happen. Label: Fear of the unknown
Thought: If I don’t figure out how to cure this anxiety, it will kill me. Label: Fear of death
Thought: I’m going to fail. Label: Fear of shame
Thought: I’m afraid of this anxiety. I’m afraid it will get worse. I can’t take it. Label: Fear of fear
There are many ways to categorize fears. For the existential fears, the ones about life in general (rather than fears of spiders and flying and public speaking), I’ve made a list of ten. They are…
1. Fear of death (or illness)
2. Fear of shame (or embarrassment)
3. Fear of abandonment, rejection or being alone
4. Fear of loss (love, money, possessions, position)
5. Fear of the unknown & fear of change
6. Fear of boredom/lack of change or stimulation
7. Fear of insignificance
8. Fear of regret
9. Fear of lack of fulfillment
10. Fear of loss of identity
And #11, which crops up a lot with anxiety…
11. Fear of fear
As you watch your anxious thoughts, you may come up with another category or two. It’s good to keep the number of categories short, because then you’ll more easily see the pattern in your thoughts. You’ll see the themes repeating, with just slightly different words.
You’ll be on to yourself!
Advantages of Being Curious About Anxiety
And the most important part of coping with anxiety in this way is that you have stopped, turned and faced that unknown, scary thing that’s been chasing you.
You have turned and faced your anxiety and looked him in the eye. And you’ve seen all he’s got to scare you with.
What’s he got? A few body sensations. Some emotional labels. And three fears that keep repeating themselves using slightly different words.
When you stop, look and label in this way, you are taking a whole new perspective on the stressful moment. Instead of experiencing it from the inside, where you are powerless to either see or change what is happening, you step outside yourself.
You take on the role of the observer. And that heightened perspective can make all the difference.
To use an ocean analogy, it can be the difference between being caught up in a wave, taken under and tossed by the force of the whole ocean behind it …or being on a surfboard, riding the wave. Using that same power to take an exhilarating ride.
It’s the same wave and the same powerful force.
Which would you rather be – tumbling in it, or riding on it?