Anxiety Friend or Foe?
When I graduated with my master’s degree at the University of Santa Monica, the famed surgeon Dr. Bernie Segal who wrote the book “Love, Medicine, and Miracles”, gave the commencement speech. He wished pain upon us all because with pain people are motivated to change. The same applies to anxiety. Anxiety is the mind’s way of getting our attention.
Anxiety friend or foe? When you are in the midst of a panic attack it doesn’t feel very friendly, however quite often we failed to listen to the foreshocks in which anxiety creeps up and we don’t do a thing about it. Then bam!
Let’s take a deeper look into anxiety. Anxiety is wired into everybody. Anxiety tells us when there is something wrong and that we should prepare to fight or flee. If it weren’t for anxiety we would have not evolved, nor survived. Therefore on many levels anxiety is good because it is our natural alerting system. Learning how to befriend anxiety and work with it can heal you in profound ways.
Our subconscious mind is the part of our brain that stores, usually bad memories and tries to lock them out of our consciousness. Not able to handle difficult experiences as a child and not having the ability to process them properly at that age, along with subsequent problems, the subconscious only has a limited space before it spills over. Anxiety and depression are usually the results.
Anxiety a friend? It is hard to imagine. Though with no more storage room available the mind needs to rid itself of the extra baggage and will alert you. Are you listening? If not, the anxiety grows stronger. When panic hits, the subconscious mind has accomplished its task. Now it is up to you. The first thing people do is rush for the substances. Medication, alcohol, Xanax. If that doesn’t work, a few extra tablets shouldn’t hurt. The medicines are only cover-ups. The anxiety has a purpose – to help you learn and grow. But we are too busy binge-watching our favorite shows then to deal with our innermost self.
This dynamic happens in our relationships as well. Instead of hoping that the problems will simply go away, and your partner will agree with you and say they are sorry. Let’s be realistic. Communication is the cornerstone of functional relationships. Addressing issues breeds intimacy and mutual understanding. Your partner will probably love you more for your honesty anyway.
When dealing with anxiety the first step is to befriend it. If handled properly it tends to quickly subside. Befriending anxiety may seem foreign to you but making your anxiety go away through many different strategies does not promote balance and inner harmony – if these experiences matter to you at all. In addressing anxiety with a gentle touch, anxiety will back down from its heightened state and be more willing to work with you. This may sound like anxiety is some force inside of us. Well, that is exactly how it is. You can fight this force that is with you all the time and in a matter of speaking, you are fighting yourself. Do you want to fight you or love you – these are the two choices. In befriending this part of our shadow self, we are demonstrating that we accept both the dark and light of us which leads to inner harmony. How does a person befriend anxiety? Let me give you an example:
Me: “Anxiety, I am sick of you making my heart race and putting my body through hell.”
Anxiety: “Well you’re not listening to me. You have been thick-headed and I need you to pay attention to me”.
Me: “What are you trying to tell me?”
Anxiety: “That you are fat, you eat like shit, you never exercise, and you are putting on weight. You make me sick. So when you ate more ice cream, I needed to let you know my discontent.”
Anxiety is an emotional problem. Something that cannot be out thought. We cannot be positive or logical enough for anxiety to leave. It is in the hugging of oneself and praising self for the actions taken that does the trick.
Try this: Take in a deep breath, exhale and center yourself in your loving heart. Breathe in relaxation and exhale tension. When our body slows down more intimacy with self can be found. Next talk with your anxiety. Discover what it is trying to communicate with you. Next, make the adjustments. You may ask anxiety to bring its message to you much gentler in the future. Finally, thank it for working with you.
Emotional tools are designed to work with the emotions. Medicine supports the body, positive thinking supports our thoughts, but emotions happen for a reason, and learning to listen to our feelings and taking the proper action steps helps us find a permanent solution to what is bothering us.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.