In The Concept of Anxiety, Soren Kierkegaard proclaimed:
“…But he who becomes guilty through anxiety is indeed innocent, for it was not he himself but anxiety, a foreign power, that laid hold of him, a power that he did not love but about which he was anxious. And yet he is guilty, for he sank in anxiety, which he nevertheless loved as he feared it.”
Having anxiety is like falling in love with the wrong person. Initially we are seduced by the promises of safety, comfort and reliance. We are attracted to constantly worrying because we think it protects us from a potentially harmful future. We fall victim to anxiety’s temptations because we are scared of what the future holds, and ruminating about potential outcomes gives us the impression that we are safe.
Like any bad relationship, the short honeymoon phase leads to a long, debilitating decline. See, anxiety is the jealous-type, so any time we try to spend time away from it, it continues to text and call until we pick up. It gets angry with us when we decide to spend time with our friends and family. It incessantly nags us throughout the day, constantly needing our attention and support. As a result, the activities that used to brings us joy turn sour because anxiety is attached to our hip.
At this point we realize that it is time to finally break up with anxiety. Our commitment has led us to self-destructive habits, negativity and the inability to enjoy life. As hard as it is to break up with something that at one time we thought would help us feel safe, it is time to move forward and live freely.
However, it is harder to end this relationship than we initially thought. Even though we fight and argue everyday, for some reason we grow closer because of it. The more we fight, the more we know that deep down anxiety cares about us. The make-up sex is great, or in other words, protecting ourselves from hurt and ruminating about potential made up “What-if” scenarios feels natural and easy and safe.
Even though it is difficult, we must find a way to overcome. Not only will a new start help our well being in the present, but our future will shine much brighter as well. Like any bad break-up, overcoming this struggle will tell us more about our true being, what we really want in life, and what is most important to us.
In this way, anxiety is truly a gateway to happiness. Once we sever ties and are able to live the good life of freedom and peace, we are going to look back and ask ourselves, “What did I ever see in this person?”
Here are the steps to finally saying “deuces” to anxiety:
Anxiety is a foreign habit in our minds. It is an opponent that we have to defeat. Like a competitor in business or in sports, anxiety is in direct opposition to our happiness and success.
If we want to defeat our competition, it is best to study it. It is best to learn about its tendencies, weaknesses and drawbacks. It is through this knowledge that we can exploit its weaknesses and become victorious.
When I was first hit with crippling anxiety that resulted in depression and daily crying and shaking panic attacks, I was paralyzed. However it was this trauma that motivated me to read over 100 books in 6 months. Through my incessant reading I not only gained many lifetimes’ worth of wisdom that helped my overthinking, but I gained generations worth of insight into myself.
If anxiety hadn’t motivated me to take action, I may have lived my entire life without truly knowing myself. If we choose to see it, anxiety is a wonderful gift of self-discovery.
Anxiety can either cripple us into stagnation or motivate us to act. The choice is ours.
Once we make the correct decision to take action, it is very important to choose our actions wisely. Many of us counter anxiety by devoting our lives to our careers. Many deal with anxiety by trying to attract another companion for support. Others fight their anxiety by focusing on monetary success and power.
Unfortunately, these distractions will always point us into the wrong direction.
Using our wonderful anxiety motivation on other unrelated pursuits is like procrastinating in our studying for that upcoming Monday final. We think that partying Friday and Saturday and half of Sunday will help us enjoy our weekend, but realistically our time is spent constantly worrying about failing the test. Not only are we putting off the inevitable, but we are stripping ourselves of the ability to enjoy the present.
For example, when I was hit with a major OCD and anxiety disorder, my choice of action was career motivated. For 5 months, I spent 12 hours a day studying and reading about my career and spent almost all of my savings attending networking events across the country. Eventually, I got the job that I wanted!
However, when I got the call that I was hired, I so anxious and worried that I convinced myself that the guy said that I was NOT hired. For the next two weeks until I heard back from the company, I worried ceaselessly convincing myself of the “What-if” scenario that my boss told me that I DIDN’T get the job.
In the end, I got everything that I thought that I wanted, except for the power to accept it.
Once I focused primarily on solving my anxiety and mental state, my subjective well being skyrocketed. Additionally, it was through correctly directed focus that I developed clarity on my purpose, personal values and the direction of my life.
There is no easy, get-rich-quick way to end anxiety. It will always take time, patience and consistent practice.
Controlling our anxiety is a skill. As with any skill, the more consistent effort and time that we devote, the better at it we get. If we create consistent habits of meditation, personal reflection, exercise and healthy living, we will get better with each day.
Finally, anxiety can be the start of an amazing and deeply emotional journey. It is truly a stepping-stone to a more fulfilled life. Anxiety can be the motivation that propels us forward into places and mindsets and outlooks that we would have never thought possible. It can be the key to our happiness if we take the correct action.
When anxiety began to control my life, I was without purpose, goals or well-being. I was an alcoholic, defensive and trapped in my own interpretations of what I thought the world was like. It was only through consistent effort to take back control of my mind did I find meaning, develop important goals and learn to love life as it is.
While a crippling anxiety habit can seem insurmountable at first, we must use it as a drive to understand our minds. Once we conquer our minds, we can really do anything we want.
As the old saying goes, “Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.”
It is my dream to help those with anxiety and depression heal FASTER and MORE EFFICIENTLY. After overcoming the effects of 15 years of child abuse, chronic depression and crippling anxiety, I know more than anyone how important it is to recover as quickly as possible.
In my personal healing process, Thoreau’s Walden inspired me. Thus, I chose to isolate myself from all technology, social media, and people for over 6 months in search for answers. I walked over 3,500 miles, read over 150 books and tried many different therapies, anxiety drugs, religions and theories to further understand the human mind.
It is through this extreme and rare action that I gathered extremely rare insights. For the last two years, I have been testing out my completely original blueprint for creating a healthy and happy mind. Through trials and tribulations, I have figured out a NEW method of overcoming negative habits of overthinking that cripple our lives.
If you are interested in overcoming your anxiety habit and connecting with yourself and what you want in life in the process, my FREE EBOOK about trading anxiety and doubt and depression for a life of happiness comes out THIS MONTH. I know that my new methods will help you just as much as they helped me.
To find the book, please connect with me on LinkedIn (Kevin Roche, Director of Creative Content for Peerbuds Innovation Lab) or visit my recently published website, https://lightthroughtheleaves.com/.