Come Here Anxiety, I’m Waiting For You

December 6, 2016

Often we consider anxiety to be a state we should never be in. We use such phrases as “feeling anxiety is for the weak”, “you can go crazy by being anxious”, “if I am anxious others will notice and think badly about me”, etc. Because of this we do everything in our power to avoid feeling it and, as in any strategy of avoidance, in the end we get the famous “rebound effect”, that is, we become even more anxious than we were.

Everything usually begins with some problematic situation in our life that is a threat. In interpreting it in this way, a whole series of physiological mechanisms are set in motion to escape or to fight against the threat. This is the famous fight or flight response.

The problem is that in addition to this primary problem, it is almost always joined by a secondary: we become anxious because we are anxious. It is as if we fear our own fear and then we are locked in a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape.

Why do we fear our anxiety?

All baseless fears come from well-known irrational beliefs. Those absolutist and exaggerated truths which have been instilled in us throughout our lives and that we have made our own.

woman-with-a-cloud-on-her-head

Therefore, the fear of anxiety was not going to be less. We have been told things like “we must be strong”, “anxiety can kill you or drive you crazy,” “smart and strong people do not get anxious,” “being anxious pushes you away from others.”

Anxiety has been conceptualized as something “dangerous” and for this reason we are afraid to be anxious. We could go crazy or die, be without friends, be imperfect…how horrible!

Fortunately, these beliefs are not real. Anxiety is a basic and primary emotion, we all feel it at some time in life and also thanks to anxiety we have been able to survive as a species and as individuals. Anxiety helps us safeguard ourselves from real dangers that could compromise our lives.

Thus, anxiety is not bad in itself. However it often turns into a wildly uncontrolled demon. It does not kill us, it saves our lives and it does not make us less strong nor more vulnerable. Quite the opposite: it makes us human.

Embracing anxiety

If we want to be less anxious, the first step is not to want to be less anxious. It seems contradictory, but in psychology the paradox occurs in numerous situations.

When we maintain a demanding mind that wants to get what it wants regardless of who falls, we are doing exactly that which pushes us farther away. That is, if we demand ourselves not to be anxious people – understanding demanding as not tolerating even an ounce of anxiety- in the end we will become more anxious. We will have the feeling that we have not met our expectations, which on the other hand are usually unrealistic.

We have to change our demanding attitude to one of tolerance. That is, tolerating that we are humans and many times in our life we are going to feel anxiety which is neither bad nor good, it is just normal.

woman-with-anxiety-1

We must stop considering anxiety as a horrible and unbearable emotion. It is true that the physiological symptoms of anxiety can be very annoying and unpleasant, but it is also annoying and unpleasant on a hot day, having a fever or suffering from a headache. No one likes to have an upset stomach, sweat or have their heart beat faster than normal, but all this is actually bearable and not so serious. If we say otherwise, these symptoms will increase much more.

The last point is the unconditional acceptance of oneself as an imperfect person. Being anxious means nothing more than being anxious. It does not mean that we are weak, or sick, or inferior to anyone. Those people you see out there who seem so strong emotionally have also felt and feel anxiety in their lives.

So, look at anxiety in the eyes, let it come to you, feel it, hold it, tell it is a little heavy, but that it’s not too bad. Only when you do all this and really mean it, can you get rid of it.

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