How to get over anxiety

  • Before you can let go of something, you have to be holding it.

    You are worried and anxious. About what? If you can say, this is fear. If you can’t, it’s anxiety.

    Is anxiety a problem? If so, you are worried and anxious about being worried and anxious. Otherwise, you might call “anxiety” something else. Like excitement.

    First of all, fear. Fear is an obvious protective response. There is one problem with fear. We don’t think very well when we are afraid. But .. terrible things might happen! How can I not be afraid of them?

    What does a caring parent do? After all, terrible things may happen! Say a child has been hurt. You are on the way to the hospital. The kid is afraid. What does the parent say? “You might never walk again!”?

    I don’t think so. This has nothing to do with “truth.” It has to do with the power of language, and how language affects the brain and especially the emotions. A sane parent will first of all make sure that everything is being done to prevent further harm and to provide or obtain care (which is a functional response to fear), and then will say to the kid, and to herself, “You are going to be okay.”

    It doesn’t just calm the kid. It calms the parent, too. “We can get through this.” These are popularly called “affirmations.” They tend to create what they declare. Why? Because when we are calm, we think far more clearly. We will sometimes know what to, “intuitively,” and later may look back. “How did I know to do that?”

    The human brain is amazing, the full cerebral cortex can actually create what can seem to be miracles. When they test medicines, they test them blind, because the patient’s knowledge as to being treated can heal. Or at least calm fear.

    So …. yes, you want to let go of worry, and you sense that you will be better off without it. But don’t start with that! Start with there being nothing wrong with being worried and anxious!

    Get curious about it. How do you know you are worried and anxious? That may seem like a stupid question, but it isn’t. What is the difference between planning what you are going to do tomorrow and being worried about it?

    I’ll suggest something: your body is reacting to what you are thinking. It’s cringing. Your shoulders may be going up and are being held up. That was, at least, my own standard response. At first, I would immediately put them down. But then they would come right back up, but I never caught myself actually raising my shoulders. I would just find them up. Then I took this to another step. I held up my shoulders! Be afraid, be anxious, take it on! Don’t worry. You actually won’t be able to maintain it for long. You will forget and drop your shoulders! (And when you realize this, you may also realize that the anxiety is gone, at least for a moment!)

    Or you will spontaneously and consciously, but without planning or effort, take a deep breath and relax. Consciously letting go.

    If you are still afraid of being afraid, this will not be deep. But it will be a step. You will be less afraid, until one day you will realize you are no longer living in fear.

    Always, however, honor your fear. Is there an emergency? If so, handle it. If not, then … “Everything is going to be okay.” Then you will proceed to make it so.

    If you are like most of us, you have a habit of believing that Something is Wrong.

    You’ve been doing this for a long time. They say we get this somewhere around five years old. It may be instinctive, designed to create planning and analysis, but . . . we will never be happy from this thinking.

    This is a major discovery: if we declare that Nothing is Wrong, we start to experience life more directly. What may have seemed terribly wrong, and everyone would agree it’s terribly wrong, disappears. Not always, but often enough that we can start to understand that “something wrong” is actually not a powerful position from which to live life.

    How about this one: “Life is an amazing opportunity to discover how to live!”

    Others have mentioned seeing a professional, and that can be great. Hah! Nothing wrong with it!

    At the same time that we believe that something is wrong, and suspect that really, it is something is wrong with me, we are ashamed. It is not just that something is wrong, but it’s bad to be like this.

    Pick it up. Your life, as it is, is yours. And set it down or carry it around, there is nothing wrong with you.

    Okay, you can imagine some idea that, if you follow it, you could end up in the penitentiary! Your choice. Nothing wrong. Just choice and life, as it has been for millions of years. When we drop the fear and open up, it turns out that we make usually make great choices. We don’t need fear to live well, to be compassionate and caring, to be respectful and helpful. To smile.

    Let us know how you are doing! Don’t isolate! Connect! Share! Listen! And if you find something worthwhile, pass it on!

    In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is this:

    I’m not an alcoholic, but I did go to a lot of open meetings. These are people, often, who “hit bottom.” It couldn’t have been worse. And yet they are laughing, joyful. What do they know?

    I was looking for the fifth promise. This page is a story told by a member of Overeaters Anonymous, which uses the AA Big Book (as do many groups working on various human issues)


    “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we

    will see how our experience can benefit others.”

    You are on an adventure, the adventure of life. All the best!

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