Are you ‘battling’ with, or ‘fighting’ anxiety?
These two words are commonly used by anxiety sufferers describing their current life situation.
You may be surprised to discover that using language such as ‘battle ‘or ‘fight’ doesn’t help to decrease anxiety.
Would you feel relaxed with a sword constantly in your hand, continually trying to ‘fend off’ the enemy?
Absolutely not. Nobody would.
I’d like to change your perception of anxiety and help you to think about it a little differently.
When I ask my clients “What does anxiety want for you?” the response is often one of the below:
That may be what it FEELS like.
That may be what you perceive to be true, and note I say ‘perceive’.
What you may believe about anxiety is simply not true.
Anxiety is not trying to drag you down, ruin your life or destroy you. It’s trying to do the exact opposite.
The question that may help you to see this is:
“What is the positive intention of the anxiety?”
This may initially make you think that I’m a little crazy.
Many of my clients look shocked when I ask them this for the first time!
But let’s think about this. What does anxiety STOP you doing?
Where do you not go as a result?
What do you not do?
Then think about WHY it wants to stop you doing these things.
If it doesn’t want you to be embarrassed, then it wants you to feel good.
If it’s worried that you are unsafe, it will try to keep you safe.
Keeping you at home or stopping you speaking in public it knows you will be calm and relaxed.
Anxiety doesn’t want to destroy you. It wants all of the above.
It’s positive intention is to keep you safe and it wants you to be happy.
Why would you battle or fight something that wants so many positive things for you? (This often creates quite an epiphany for my clients with anxiety).
My advice is to embrace anxiety and understand the intention.
To be free from anxiety we need to face our fears and we will very likely experience anxiety doing this.
During these times I would recommend ‘externalising’ anxiety.
Imagine that anxiety is a tiny frightened child sitting on your shoulder.
You may still hear it say, “go home”, or “don’t go out, it’s dangerous”.
You may feel yourself tempted to go home or stay in.
That tiny child needs re-assurance.
It needs to know that the places that cause you anxiety are safe. You need to take that tiny child with you to these places and thank them (in your mind or out loud) for being there for you and for trying to protect you.
This will make you feel more relaxed and it takes away the exhausting battle.
Understanding that anxiety doesn’t want to hurt or destroy you can be compared to dropping the sword.
There can be no battle.
You want the best for yourself and anxiety wants the best for you too.
Isn’t it time you started working with anxiety instead of against it and towards freedom and the life that you deserve?