The Complete Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is often linked to underlying triggers that are hidden like tripwires in the subconscious mind. This guide delves into how to rewire these triggers and overcome anxiety

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Long before I could put a name to it, anxiety had been a constant part of my life. Without really knowing what had happened to me, I tried so many strategies to fix it; ignoring the problem, trying to be positive regardless, having full mental breakdowns. I went through the whole cycle until I arrived at a decisive point. 2020.

I know for many people, 2020 was a year of reflection and discovery. For me, it was way more than that. It was a year where I had a breakthrough; even though at the time it didn’t seem like it. I finally got to the point where I had nothing left to lose, so the only way left to go was up.  I said to myself; “something has to change.” I believe you have arrived at this point yourself, otherwise, you would not be reading this

Through this guide, you will learn three major things:

  • What Anxiety is in its’ basic form and the main emotion that drives it
  • How to tap into this emotion and redirect it towards feeling more confident
  • How internal negativity feeds your external reaction, and what to do about that

PART ONE

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Anxiety is an emotion that can always be traced back to fear. It is the dreaded anticipation of an uncertain yet undesirable event. Quite simply, it is being scared stiff of something that you don’t even want, and then nurturing that fear every day and giving it more power over you. Then you top that with a frustrating feeling of helplessness that you can neither control nor predict what will happen.

For many people, anxiety goes far beyond simply being a reaction to fear. When you make anxiety a constant part of your life, it can degenerate into serious mental problems like depression. It can also cause nervous disorders and panic attacks. The fear takes over your entire body and your entire life. It is a sad and frustrating way to live because you have no idea what you can do to help yourself get out of it.

What NOT to Do to Overcome Anxiety (from someone who has tried everything)

The mistake a lot of people make with anxiety is trying to cure its symptoms rather than heading straight to the root of the problem and nipping it in the bud directly. They resort to temporary remedies that frankly don’t help in any way beyond superficial.

-Zulaikhah

Anxiety is medically classified as the body’s natural response to stress and stressful situations. Stress is what happens to your brain when you are in uncomfortable situations. Uncomfortable situations are the ones that draw you out of what you are used to and demand something new from you.

“Anxiety is caused when there is a disconnect between the person you are demanded to be, and the person you are comfortable with being. The classic fight of the old and the new, turned inwards because you are actually at war with yourself.”

So what really causes you to feel that nerve-wracking fear is the unwillingness of your mind to evolve, the reluctance of your body to be pushed. Why would your own mind and body work against you this way?

Shouldn’t they do what you need them to do?

Why Your Mind Doesn’t Listen to You

There is a gap. You have created a gap between your mind and your body and because of that, they have fallen out of sync. The real remedy to your anxiety is to find that harmony and re-create the balance.

Every human being is born with the ability to connect the mind, body, and soul, but it can get weaker or stronger depending on how you use it. By the time we hit adolescence, we have all but forgotten about this marvelous tool that we have.

Awareness is the answer. People who are aware and in touch with their inner beings do not consider stress or anxiety as challenges. This does not mean they are never pushed out of their comfort zones. It simply means that they have control, so whatever space they are thrust into, they can safely navigate it.

How can I reconnect with my higher self?

Start building mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Go for a light jog so you can hear the sound of your own breath again. Start journaling, try yoga, and meditations. Get in touch with your inner being that has fallen silent all these years.

For me, when I started to practice yoga back in April, I immediately started to notice a shift in my perception. I have constant issues with sleeping deeply, so most mornings I wake up from a restless night. There’s this swirl of emotions just running through my mind; fear, anticipation, anxiety. What really helps me pause and regain awareness is going through my morning yoga. I don’t have an official instructor; I use this really great YouTube channel. Even 5 minutes of yoga is enough to help me start the day on a high vibe.

Recently, I also started a daily newsletter that is a part-journal and a part curation of things that help me slow my mind down throughout the day.

Whatever works for you, start with as little as 5 minutes every other day and build out the habit.


PART TWO                      

WORKING THROUGH THE FEAR

Many of us are driven by fear. Anxiety itself is a result of fear. We are so scared that we push ourselves to act without thinking. Some people might argue that all is well that ends well. As long as you get the results, it does not matter what motivates you.

However, when you let fear replace inspiration, what you are unconsciously doing is tying your self-worth to a result. The fear becomes a part of the image that you are trying to avoid, so when you fall short in the opposite direction, you feel like you have lost your value as a human being. 

For example, if you are driven to study because of the deep fear that you will be unsuccessful without a degree, when you eventually fail at one course or two, you feel as if you have started to descend into failure. That fear then morphs into anxiety, this nagging feeling that you absolutely have to do something. Then you begin to feel helpless, then frustrated and the downward spiral just goes on from there.

How to “Eliminate” Fear

Fear is just like any other emotion. It is neutral. It depends on how you use it. Just like fire, or a knife, in the right hands fear can actually be quite constructive. It can stop you from making stupid decisions, like jumping off a cliff. But it can also be very irrational.

“The first question you ask yourself should be, “What am I afraid of?”

That reason-the why- is the foundation, and once you remove the foundation, the entire construct will collapse like a house of cards.

There is a concept I recently learned about. It is called the courage of despair. What it literally means is that when you have your back against the wall, when you are in a sink-or-swim moment, it is only then that you will be able to access that untapped reserve of strength that you did not know you had. It is the way soldiers fight when they know the only way to make it out alive is to win. It is when you have nothing left to be afraid of, nothing left to lose. It is the spirit of a winner, but you cannot get to that point if you let fear stop you.

Fear is always a reaction to something. Circumstances exist. Things happen. You get to decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing. When you choose to see an event as negative, then your reaction to it will also be negative. Notice I called it a reaction because that is what it is. A mindless action that rises out of your subconscious.

That means fear does not come directly from any outcome or event or circumstance. Fear comes from inside you. It is a result of the beliefs that you hold around a certain subject. If we go back to the studying scenario, you can only be afraid of failing a course when you have it buried in your subconscious that your success is tied to it. That is a limiting belief, a belief that you have no option, no way out, a belief that robs you of your creativity.

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Quite simply, limiting beliefs are the self-sabotaging thoughts that you hold about yourself. They are formed strictly through repetition, and they are reinforced when you continue to give energy to them.

Limiting beliefs are the can’t- won’t-don’t sentences you tell yourself.

“Public speaking is not my thing.”

“I don’t have the patience to be an entrepreneur.”

“I can’t sell. I can’t make $1,000 this month.”

Limiting beliefs are formed throughout life. Even as an adult you can put limiting beliefs on yourself. These will typically be advanced versions of the ones that you already had built into your system growing up. It is very hard to detect a limiting belief at this stage because it is literally built into the programming of your life. It sits deep within your subconscious mind and forms the foundation of your entire paradigm, the system of habits and beliefs that govern your life.

“If you were the kind of child who was constantly told what you could and could not do, those words would have formed a major part of the self-image that you hold today. If you share your ideas and dreams with people who tell you that what you are trying to do is impossible, and you hear that enough times, then you will actually start to believe that it is indeed impossible.”

These monologues play in your head and make you doubt yourself. If you have lived with limiting beliefs all your life, by now they have become like a chorus in your head. You don’t even notice anymore.

How do I fix a limiting belief?

Become more aware of the way you talk to yourself and how you approach new experiences. How often do you use that unholy trinity; can’t, won’t, and don’t.  Notice them. Shine the spotlight on them and you have already cleared the first step.

Then comes the second step, getting rid of them. You can only get limiting beliefs out of your mind the same way they got in there in the first place; through repetition. Start to use affirmations in your daily life.

Wake up every morning, look yourself eye to eye in the mirror, and tell yourself;

I can, I will and I do. I can have, be, and do whatever I desire as long as I put the effort behind that desire.”

Mirror affirmations are not reserved for dramatic sitcom characters. They are not silly and they actually work. Try it for a month.


PART 3

DEVELOPING A HEALTHY SELF IMAGE

I mentioned that limiting beliefs shape the image that we hold of ourselves.

The Random House Dictionary defines self-image as “the idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself”

Self-image is an amazing subject. It is the way that you see yourself. Many people might think they have a fairly good idea of who they are, and how they present themselves but if you gave them a mirror that would reflect their minds and brains, they would not recognize it.

Generally, there are three common ways that people tend to see themselves. Each of these classes contributes to the general note of self-image.

First, you have the image that you have of yourself. If you went to a job interview, and the panel asked you ’tell us about yourself the answers you give to them will generally reflect what you think of yourself.

Next, you have the image that other people have of you. This one is pretty interesting because we all play multiple roles across a vast number of scenarios. We can be a brother, a sister, a friend, a child, a parent, a colleague, or a total stranger sitting on the bus. Your image in this sense will morph and evolve depending on who you are with, and what position you assume in their lives.

Now, this third type of self-image is even more interesting. It is the way you think people see you. It is the image that is most likely to control you even against your own wishes. You will have thoughts like, I have to be a certain way because this is how so-so person expects me to be.

Personally, I think this third class is the most dangerous and sadly the most common. There are so many people who build their entire sense of worth and value around appearances; the way they want to present themselves to people, based on the expectations they believe these people have of them.

To build a healthy self-image, you need to take other people out of the equation. You should not base what you think of yourself, and how you see yourself on external opinions and views.

Why? Because people change their minds all the time, so do you.

 As we all grow, we evolve and we outgrow past versions of ourselves. Many people will not see all that growth, because a lot of it happens inside. They only see the results and when it does not align with the opinion they hold of you, they will criticize you. They will laugh at you. They might even throw some jabs. If you are the kind of person that shapes your image around these opinions, the pressure will force you to downsize to that level that they remember you to be on.

True change is borne out of an inner desire to be better, not for anybody else but yourself. The thing is nobody will hold you accountable. You only owe that responsibility to yourself. That drive to keep going even when nobody is looking is what you need and it is a self-sustaining thing. You don’t need external validation to have that kind of spark

The person you need to be will be the person that is in harmony with the goals that you have and the life you see for yourself. Then, you begin to choose the habits, thoughts, and actions that will help you become that person. Each time you have a thought or do an activity that is in line with this new you, it will serve as a vote of confidence. It will be you telling yourself, “Yes, I am this person. This is who I am.”

Using Your Thoughts & Words to Condition Your Self-image

There is a lot of power in the thoughts that we allow to cross our minds. Thought is energy, literally. Scientifically, a thought is an electric pulse that is created in your brain, and the more attention you pay to it, the stronger the pulse becomes. As the pulse grows in your brain, it will begin to cause some changes. Neural pathways will be rewired and nerve signals will be sent to your cells. These signals carry information, and that information will be interpreted by the cells in your body and they will adapt to it accordingly.

Think about that. Every thought that you have is sending signals to your cells. The bigger part is, these thoughts also emit energy, and that energy can be intercepted by people around you.

The Law of Vibration & Attraction

If you are familiar with energy physics you will know that all forms of energy exist in waves. These waves can vibrate at different paces, some very fast, others quite slowly, and that is what is termed the frequency of the wave; that speed of vibrating.

When it comes to your thoughts, what determines their frequency is your emotion, and how you are feeling inside your body.  Are you tense? Are you at peace? Are you in pain? Are you happy?

Whatever your emotions and feelings are at any point in time, they will dictate your vibration. And this relationship goes both ways. If I picked randomly from one of your friends, and I asked that person, “Hey what is John like?” they could respond, “Oh John is great. He is always very happy and full of energy. ”

That is John’s level of vibration because his thoughts revolve around happiness, joy, abundance, and all other things that exist on that level or close to it.

You can originate good and positive thoughts all by yourself. The fix is that so many people are in a permanent reactionary state. They don’t exercise their creative strength. If they are having a great day, then they feel great. If one small piece falls out of place, their mood takes a nosedive.

By now, you can begin to guess what kind of thoughts you must be entertaining, based on the mood that you always find yourself in.

Are you always tired and sick? Check your thoughts.

Are you always mad at something or somebody? Check your thoughts.

The more thoughts that you have of a certain type, the more of them you will get. Sounds confusing?

If you are always mad about something, you will always find more reasons to be mad. You might say “I don’t choose to be angry, there are just so many infuriating things happening all the time.”

What is actually happening is when you have one angry thought, it will send off enough energy to bring more things that will make you angry into your life. Thoughts have friends, and when one moves, the others follow pretty quickly. It is the classic law of attraction.

So how can you harness this power for good? It is simple. Whatever you are looking for, you will find. So if your thoughts are, for example, “Where is the money?” you will begin to see where the money is. If you are thinking “My life sucks”, you will find more reasons for your life to suck even worse.

Why Can’t I Control My Thoughts?

Here is a little PSA.

You can’t have good thoughts all the time. In fact for some people, it is almost impossible to have good thoughts, and this lesson I am sharing is something I learned recently myself. You can’t have good thoughts all the time, and I am not going to tell you that it will always be sunshine and daisies, even when you have good thoughts. This is because inspiration can sometimes come through hard times. You know, those situations that push you and force you to level up. When you are going through times like that, the last thing on your mind is a good thought. It can be that hard. You can only see the benefit in hindsight.

Another thing that limits your ability to select your thinking is the past. The way you were raised, all the things you have gone through, the trauma you don’t know you carry, all of those are somewhere in your subconscious. So you can try to think good thoughts in your brain, but somewhere at the back of your mind is a belief that is totally contradictory. Many times, the language that you use when you think or even talk can reveal a lot about what kind of beliefs you hold.

What you can do today is to begin to examine some of the beliefs you have about yourself. That will really help you evaluate where you stand.

Take a pen and some paper and try to write five things you know about yourself. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down. When you have at least five items on paper, read them out loud. Listen to how they sound. What do they say about you?  

Guide your thoughts, by becoming aware of them. You can choose to have good thoughts or bad thoughts. Nobody controls your mind, it is so amazing. You have complete freedom to think about anything that you want, no limits.


PS. Subscribe to #NowLoving to receive my daily part-journal part-curation of things that remind you to slow down and love the now.

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