Most of the time we avoid our anxiety. Completely understandable.
It hurts physically and puts a great strain on our bodies and minds all day long. It ruins our sleep and limits our relationships. The problem with avoiding it, is that it makes the anxiety worse.
Avoiding anxiety makes it grow.
If we want to be able to manage it so that it doesn’t take over our lives, we have to face it. You probably already know this from cheesy sayings such as:
– “The only way out is through.”
– “Face your fears.”
– “The cure for the pain is in the pain.”
Cheesy as they may be they are correct. What they don’t give you though is the way to face it.
First, you have to look at anxiety as information and become curious. What can it tell me? What am I afraid of really?
Then, you confront it using these steps:
1- Feel it and ask what are you avoiding? What’s the threat? A break-up? Confronting a boss? Your father?
2- What do you need to say or do with regards to the the threat? Ask for a raise? Say no?
3- Confront the anxiety. Say what you have to say, make your decision.
4- Repeat steps 1-3 for years. Ask yourself what you don’t want to do and do it everyday.
It doesn’t have to always be something big. Small but consistent actions over time is how you get better. Say no for small things like telling your spouse you don’t want to watch that movie today, or your friend that you don’t want to go to her party but will get together with them on a different occasion etc.
You’ll feel anxious as you confront the monster each and every time. But if you keep it up you’ll be less and less affected by it and feel more and more confident that you can handle the tension.
And then, gradually, your stress level will start to recede.
There is information in all of your emotions. Find out what they are telling you and take action. Don’t avoid your anxiety unless you want it to slowly take over your life until you can’t even see it anymore.
This is your task. Everything else in life gets better once this does.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
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