What are you anxious about the most? Being alone? Going on a plane? Not getting the love and attention you want? Your health? Not being on time or successful enough? The list could go on and on...
Anxiety is a very complex emotion that brings tension, unhappiness, diseases and restlessness into our lives. Latest studies show that anxiety is affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older.
It often surfaces when we go through uncertainties (living in the unknown), reject or repress our emotions, or don't getting our needs met in our lives. It is also caused by many factors such as genetics, mal nourishment (physical), personality, brain and past experiences.
When we are anxious, we become impatient, aggressive, insecure, we lose faith, trust, we play the guilt game, we feel ashamed about who we are and how we feel, we lose our confidence, we lose ourselves and we allow fear to take over our life.
Anxiety has such unpleasant feelings that we sometimes seek quick fixes just to get back on our feet again and feel fearless in our surrounding. Some of the quick fixes include taking anxiety pills, going to psychics to learn about how things are going to unfold, getting some sort of addiction such as alcohol, working on affirmations and so on. Some of these are needed sometimes and could be a good patch until we reach a point where we are ready to address the underlying root cause for our anxiety.
Here are some strategies to become friends with anxiety:
1. Admit your feelings.
You are a human being built with emotions and you are going to be scared, fearless, sad, joyful, angry and peaceful. There is no point of rejecting your feelings because they are within you anyways. It is like denying that the ocean has waves and ripples - doesn’t this sound funny? When you learn to accept your feelings just as they are whether they are positive or negative in the moment, you will feel lighter, you will find strength within yourself and courage to live inside-out instead of outside-in.
It is so easy to play the victim when we are going through anxiety and fear. The ego is so addicted to being in control and wants to have his hands on everything including our feelings, happiness, sadness and success. When we feel scared and anxious about something, we feel ashamed about what is going on within us. The ego might be telling us that there is something wrong with us (why am I feeling this way? what is wrong with me?) that needs to be fixed otherwise we won’t be accepted among friends and loved ones. Again, we are all human beings and it is okay to feel scared and fearful. When we let go of understanding why we are the way we are, we begin to experience “being” instead of “acting up” to live someone else’s life and dream.
3. Be present with your fear.
If you are feeling so anxious and you are seeking safety in love, health, career and so on ask yourself what is triggering this feeling? Why is it important for me to be that way? or do this thing? Then, let yourself feel what you fear and think what you need to think. If your mind is going wild, let it go even wilder but just sit and watch and practice patience until the storm passes through. Admit to yourself how you are feeling and what are you worried and scared about. Say for example: I am feeling such and such and I am okay with that. The moment you become present with your fears, you are allowing growth and miracle to happen within your heart.
4. Remind yourself for more self-love.
Anxiety is painful but it is a good reminder that it is time for us to love ourselves more. Listen to the self talk that might be telling you: “you are not good enough, you are weak, you are not loved, you are not perfect”. Listen to this voice and send him or her more love. This voice is actually telling you that more attention, focus and care are needed for yourself. So, practice self-love and do things that make you happy.
5. Become best friends with your mind.
Our monkey mind is pretty wild and brings all sort of positive and negative images that trigger anxiety and fear. If we react to these thoughts, we often cause damages in our emotional and physical being, in our relationships, health and so on. However, practicing mindfulness through becoming aware of the thought and allowing it to pass through without any judgement, gives us a chance to become better friends with ourselves and accept ourselves. When we reject our thoughts and label them as good, bad, dangerous, shameful and so on we are judging ourselves and creating even more anxiety and shamefulness within us. A great way to practice this is through daily mindfulness Meditation. I highly recommend Pema Chodron’s workshop on how to meditate.
6. Let go of shame.
When people come to us and ask us “ what is wrong? what are you scared about ? ” They make us feel that it is shameful to have fears and anxieties. Shame comes from the scarcity of not being good enough and not having enough, so we make up for it by wearing the bravery mask to look perfect and feel accepted in society. It is really important to know that part of being human is to have the positive and negative feelings that arise within us, to get anxious, to make mistakes, to be impatient and fearful so we can grow and expand to the love that we are in our essence. Otherwise, we would be just like robots and who wants to be a perfect robot?
7. Make positive changes in your life. See what is not working for you anymore and let go of it.
Stay away from people who don’t make you feel good about yourself, change your career if you need to, find new hobbies, practice Yoga, Meditation, make new friends, make yourself happy whether it was by eating ice cream or gardening. Just bring more positivity in your life.
8. Check in with yourself regularly.
Sometimes we only check in with ourselves when things fall apart and we wonder why things collapsed all of sudden. By checking in with ourselves on daily basis whether it was by talking to a friend, therapist, coach, journaling and meditating, gives us the gift of becoming more aware of the person we are becoming.
9. Practice patience.
I love this quote from the Baghvad Gita “Little by little, through patience and repeated effort, the mind will become stilled in the Self.” It takes time to calm our minds and it takes time to understand pain, understand love, our emotions and to complete a goal. Things don’t just happen when we want them to happen. Letting go of control and becoming gentle with ourselves is so important to nurture and heal ourselves.
10. Discover your core values.
Imagine a perfect day where you can live the day you have always wanted for yourself. How would you describe your day? Why is it important to do what you are doing? By questioning the importance of what you are doing over and over again, you will get to discover your true values. Ask yourself, how are you abiding by these values today? What can you do to make them happen whether it was with yourself, in your relationships, career and social life.
11. Abandon perfection.
Fall in love with imperfection whether it was with yourself, in your daily tasks, goals and with others. If we are all perfect at all times, the world would be a boring place to be in. We will have no place for growth in our heart and in our own being.
12. Get enough nutrients and vitamins.
Anxiety is not only caused due to past experiences or emotional state of our being. It could also be physical just like I mentioned in the beginning of this article. If you read more about the Integrative/Orthomolecular medicine, they mention if there are certain vitamin and nutrient deficiencies in our bodies, or if the gut flora is compromised, we will get depressed and have anxiety and the remedy is to simply take specific supplements. You can learn more about it in this book by Dr. Andrew Saul or read about healing anxiety.
Finally, believe in all the wonderful resources that you have within you. You’ve got all you need to create the relationship, the career and the life that you want. Just start paying attention to your heart and what this deep inner voice within you is telling you. Tell your anxiety that you will be watching, listening, taking care of yourself and loving yourself so much more.
Be patient watching your life unfolds beautifully.