7 Things I Needed To Accept Before Tackling My Anxiety
Anxiety has never been more prevalent than it is today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54 in the United States alone are affected by an anxiety — and this doesn’t even account for those who suffer silently, without a diagnosis.
Before ever experiencing anxiety myself, I had no idea what it was, but had several friends and family members describe it to me as scary, unpredictable, overwhelming, frustrating, and painful.
Once it decided to rear its ugly head into my life in 2012 I not only quickly identified a number of other adjectives to describe it, but I also began to seriously doubt whether or not I would ever again be able to experience life without it.
I immediately turned to anything and everything I could find, including but not limited to books, seminars, online videos, and both conventional and unconventional practitioners to find a solution. It took me over two years to build the mix I needed to finally kick anxiety to the curb for good.
And while it was a number of tools that helped me cope with anxiety while it plagued me, my journey to becoming truly anxiety free began with the acceptance of a number of core principles:
1. Only I Can Get Myself Out of This Permanently
As helpful as each of the methods and tools I discovered were, only I could actually make them work. It was I who needed to persistently make these tools a part of my regular life, and I who needed to push through implementing them even when at first it seemed as though they weren’t going to work. As with every great challenge in life, anxiety requires you to show both persistence and belief in what you are doing to overcome it.
2. Hiding It Isn’t Doing Anyone Any Good
Given how difficult anxiety can be to explain, many affected by it (myself included at first) can feel pressured to hide it from others. In some cases this may be driven by not wanting to draw attention and concern, and in other cases it may be to protect themselves from losing their job. While there will always be certain instances where keeping it to yourself may be best, internalizing it completely is never a good idea. The more you open up about your experience, the more likely you are to be guided to the solutions that work best for you.
3. The Past Only Has as Much Weight on Today as I Give It
One the most common triggers for anxiety is past experience. Whether it be a traumatic occurrence, such as a particularly turbulent flight that leads to travel anxiety, or even previous bouts with anxiety itself, anxiety often builds its strength through prior occurrences. As difficult as these events may have been to go through, there is no inherent reason for them to impact you right now. Just as you have easily moved beyond and forgotten the vast majority of your past, you can choose to be thankful for what you have gone through without believing it defines you today.
4. Seeing Myself as a Victim Does Way More Harm Than Good
In the judicial system the roles of victim and victimizer serve a great purpose. But in our daily lives, labelling ourselves as victims to anxiety and its triggers does us no good. The only potential “good” this serves is increased awareness and perhaps compassion for our circumstances, but even this wears out and can often be used as a crutch that prevents us from overcoming. Rather than dwelling in victimhood, choose to take responsibility for your anxiety. I can say from experience that you'll begin to actually deal with it much quicker.
5. There Is Nothing to Blame
Along the same lines as number 4, regardless of what triggers your anxiety, there really is nothing and no one to blame, nor any benefit in doing so. Whether it’s your spouse, your extended family, or your job that plays the leading role in your experience with anxiety, it is ultimately your reaction to it that brings the anxiety to life. Choose to focus on your reactions rather than the faults in others, and you’ll get to the core of your anxiety much faster.
6. It’s Not as Bad as My Fear Makes It Out to Be
No matter how severe your anxiety is, it is never as intense as your mind paints it to be. Our minds are wonderful creators that have inspired us to do a number of amazing things and have gotten us out of many metaphorical pickles, but they are also your anxiety’s best weapon. Recognize that your mind is often taking you for a trip based on a number of farfetched extremes that your anxiety never has, nor will, ever actually take you on — especially once you acknowledge this.
7. I Can Once Again Live Anxiety Free
There is no point in trying if you don’t believe it to be possible. Anxiety may be incredibly scary and may have been in your life for dozens of years now, but a reality without it always exists and is possible — I promise.
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