I was an anxious worrier. I drove myself into the ground with anxiety. I would go as far as to say I almost wrecked my health anxiously worrying on an industrial scale!
I would convince myself I had a lot to worry about: childhood demons, my unhappy children, mishandled finances, broken familial relationships, failed businesses and a husband with cancer. It was accompanied by the never ending questions: will it all work out? what happens if it all goes belly up? will I survive it?
So, I took a stress management course and, one by one, began to tick off each worry and put it to bed: it has worked out, it hasn't gone belly up and, so far, I have survived it. But there was still something else worrying me, just beneath the surface, something untouchable, a sense that all was not well - not 100% and I wanted 100%. When I had expected the anxiety to leave me but it just moved onto something else; I had to find something more than simply ticking boxes.
So a new approach became my mission and I searched for different ways to handle my ingrained anxiety. I had to look beyond the potential of Zoloft or attending a weekly yoga class by re-configuring my whole way of thinking. I sought teachers to help me and discovered some truly amazing people who live by their own rules and don't believe you have to bend in order to fit in with society.
I took the advice I liked and made it fit into my own philosophy. While I wouldn't say that I have completely conquered my anxiety habit, I'm 95% there. I've discovered I have limits so when I'm against it, I have a 3 step plan to bring me back on track and act as a buffer against the inherent old ways.
3 Ways To Break Free From Anxiety For Good:
1. Fix it
If you are plagued by anxiety then fix it. Don't delay because that keeps your body in 'fight or flight' mode. Anxiety results in feeling out of control so identify what you do have control over and act on it. Only self doubt will keep you from taking action but taking action builds self trust - and self trust reduces anxiety.
For example if you're worried about finance apply for that job or reduce your outgoings; if you're worried about your health, see a doctor or enroll with a health coach. Facing the fear is empowering.
2. If it can't be fixed then let it go
Sounds too simple? Don't complicate it. The art of letting go will serve you well if you take it seriously. If there's something that's creating a lot of anxiety that you have no control over, write it down and put it in a special place and ask the 'future' to take care of it.
This is radical acceptance and a way of engaging the compassionate self to bring about more clarity and self love. Accepting the way things are stops inner conflict in its tracks and replaces it with a healing presence that lays in the sacred space underneath our thoughts.
3. Bring your attention into this moment
Now you've either fixed the anxiety or let it go, bring your focus into the present moment. Become aware of your current thoughts and feelings. This brings clarity into why you focus on the future and helps to reframe your intention to strive for a more peaceful mind.
As you are reading these words take all your attention from your over analytical mind and escort it to your breath. Focus on your breath for one minute. Hear the anxious words as if you were listening to someone else but know they are an old habit and you no longer have to obey them. Know that, in this moment, everything is OK and just as it should be.
Since I've practiced these steps I've discovered lightness and ease that has replaced the anxiety. I now see that my need to try and control the future left me no room to enjoy today. The drive to control every outcome has left me, yet nothing outside has changed. I had been trying to find happiness but instead I've learnt to be free of unhappiness.
My greatest achievement has been to embrace uncertainty and learn to trust that everything is, and will be, OK. Some days I'm so happy I feel guilty!