Anxiety and acceptance, how are they linked?
Do you experience anxiety and wished that you didn't? Do you make room for the feeling or get into a battle with it?
These are the questions to ask yourself when you have anxiety, because there is one big secret people do not know about anxiety that makes the difference when overcoming it. Let me explain... You can also download your free beyond anxiety meditation at the bottom of this page.
What happens when we fight with anxiety?
Emotions are designed to come and go just like so many other things in life, they come in waves. No-one is ever calm all of the time, no one is ever anxious all the time, even though it may feel like it!
In fact, anxiety is needed in life in small doses, the problem is when we get stuck in the anxiety loop and it hangs around at an intense level.
An interesting fact is that when we do not accept anxiety and get into hating it and not wanting it, we try all kinds of unhelpful things to avoid feeling it. This could be using alcohol, drugs, impulsively shopping, avoiding situations, trying to think our way out of it or binging on box sets. Sound familiar?
These strategies can temporarily relieve our anxiety, although it does not go away permanently, it comes back with vengeance. Sometimes even worse because we have made choices which do not move us forward or we feel guilty about doing. This is the cycle that people end up in - the avoidance cycle.
How does acceptance help?
It is when we accept anxiety, it is free to move on just as it is designed to do, the old saying the things we resist, persist applies in this situation.
Acceptance is different from liking or wanting anxiety, it is simply the choice to make room for it, to loosen around it, to drop the battle with it. This is the first step to living beyond it.
Imagine there are two scales, the first is the intensity scale, this is the scale you rate your anxiety on from 0-10. We are all familiar with his scale in day to day life, whether it be for pain or rating a service.
However there is one more scale which not many people know about, this is called the willingness scale. This scale is from 0-10 and it is how willing you are to have your anxiety - 0 not willing at all and 10 completely willing to have it.
It is counter intuitive but read on...
This may sound counter intuitive. However having helped hundreds of people to overcome anxiety for the last ten years and having experienced it myself, I can tell you that acceptance is important in treating anxiety. Of course there is more to anxiety management than acceptance, but this is a vital step which people do not normally know about.
You are hosting a party and there is a guy who lives on the street who you don't really want there. However he rings the door bell and you answer it and say he is not welcome.
You return to your friends and get mid conversation and the door goes again. You answer the door and it is him, you politely decline entry and return back to the party. You then see him knocking at the window so leave your friends again to tell him to leave.
He is not aggressive just annoying and you really don't want him at your party.
You return to your friends, an hour goes by and you realise that the door bell has not rung and you have been enjoying yourself. You look out the window to the back garden and see he has come round the side gate and is in the garden talking to some of your friends.
You decide to accept that he is there, you do not want him there, you do not like him. However, accepting him allows you to relax, enjoy the party and engage with your friend. Just like this man, anxiety can come knocking when you don't want it. Dropping the battle or tug of war with it allows it to subside in the background and you to get on with life.
How do I accept my anxiety?
The first thing to do is know that anxiety will not harm you. Sometimes it can feel like you are going crazy, sometimes as though there is something physically wrong or that you are having a heart attack. Anxiety is not going to harm you physically.
The next thing to do is start getting to know anxiety in a different way, to change your perspective on it and relationship to it. To do this follow these steps:
- Lay down and make yourself physically comfortable where you will not be disturbed.
- Take some long slow breaths, counting 7 in & 11 out.
- Locate where you feel the anxiety the strongest in your body.
- Notice the following qualities one by one, simply observing the sensation, not trying to change it and being curious like a scientist who has never experienced anxiety before. All with the knowledge it cannot hurt you and an openness and non judgmental attitude:
- Type and direction of movement: pulsing, spinning etc
5. Breathe down into and around the feeling, imagining the space opening up around it with each breath.
6. Place a hand over that body part imaging it is the hand of a care giver, nurse, partner or friend. Imagine that a feeling of love and compassion is radiating out from the hand. This love and compassion fills the space around and filters into the feeling.
Throughout the exercise simply notice if the felling changes. Maybe it will, maybe it won't but that is not the point of this exercise it is to practice acceptance.
When you are going about your day and you feel some anxiety do this where you are, you do not need to lay down or close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Then breathe into and around the feeling and notice its qualities and imagine that hand of the kind person over that body part.
Practice this daily so you can really start to see the results. You will notice anxiety will come less frequently and less intensely over time. Please share this if you know anyone who is having challenges with anxiety so we can all live beyond it.
Wishing you a simply clear mind from Simply Clear Coaching.
Your Coach and NLP Trainer