In my previous blog I had listed five examples of where, when and how I am triggered into anxiety reactions in my day-to-day life. What I noticed, which was also mentioned in the interview recording I am being supported by, is that there is not such a huge variety in terms of instances where my anxiety is triggered. This is not to say that it is not triggered a lot – I am saying that the circumstances within which anxiety is triggered are very similar and quite limited. This is, in a way, good news in terms of bringing the anxiety energy to a point of diffusion, and directing self within these situations. This is because seeing as the variety of circumstances is limited – I will get ample practice, and the skills I develop will be useful in many situations and many times throughout the day (instead of , for example, having many different anxiety reactions wherein walking through them one by one would take more time).
Please read my last blog for context, as I will be proceeding on to the next step of what to do when and as one is in these anxiety situations. Also note that I am listening to a series that provides a general framework and understanding of anxiety, what it is and how it functions, and I would strongly recommend investing in this series yourself when you are able, as I have been listening to it several times so as not to miss any details.
In my first blog on this topic, I explained how anxiety in itself functions as a moment’s hesitation wherein the mind has time to connect past memories, mind-patterns or entire personalities for example, to a current similar situation wherein the anxiety then acts as an amplifier of this emotional energy.
An example of such a play-out could be for instance, when one is preparing to leave for an event, meeting or other occasion. The moment could be when one would look at the clock and calculate the amount of time required to finish preparing to leave, versus the amount of time required to get there, leaving the possibility of not having enough time.
What will happen in this moment is that anxiety will now be triggered in an instance, as if from nowhere, and from that one moment it can then build until it becomes intense enough to change one’s entire personality during the time the anxiety is generating/being generated and fueled/fueling thoughts (eg: being late, memories of previous times one had been late where there were consequences; thoughts about how one’s late-ness will create consequences again in imaginary scenarios and play-outs), which can then for example cause an influx of emotions such as guilt, fear and remorse. If I place myself in this situation I can see that I would then go into a ‘rushed’ personality, where I become easily irritated and even angry due to thoughts, fears and back-chat of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’s’. Then comes the guilt and self-judgment for not having been more organized and for having put oneself in this situation in the first place.
The above example demonstrates how one can be overcome by the mind and generate and use a lot of energy, and actually do things that could be harmful or consequential (eg: driving too fast, getting angry at others), when one could have in that first moment, grounded oneself and instead directed oneself to remain practical, calm, and stable.
The above example is one in which all the possible effects or anxiety had been triggered. There are, of course, varying degrees of complexity and intensity, depending on how much we play into the thoughts/emotions/personalities/mind-patterns etc… how much we believe them to be real, and how we react to them. For example, sometimes I find myself reacting within continuously feeding the situation, as if contemplating every possible play-out and all worst-case scenarios would somehow create a solution for myself, but instead it just intensifies it and feeds it, when the solution would have been to catch the anxiety in its initial stages and stopped it then and there.
This brings us to the next step in the process of directing one’s anxiety. The reason I have spent so much time looking at, describing and writing out how anxiety functions within and as me, is because in order to stop the anxiety where it starts we have to slow ourselves down within ourselves, enough so that we can catch the anxiety when it starts. We have to catch it before it is able to connect, attach and bring up all the patterns I mentioned in the above example. This is where and how one gives oneself the opportunity to ground oneself in the physical as soon as one notices an anxiety reaction being triggered. To ground oneself in the physical is to function according to the needs and demands of physical reality only, meaning, real reality -the ‘real world’- and not the world within ourselves- not the world of imagination and fantasy where worst-case scenario play outs seem so real, where fears and emotions can rule, and where self-judgment can sabotage things we had been working so hard to build.
The interview I listened to described breathing techniques used to bring oneself back from being ‘sucked in’ to the mind and grounded back into one’s body, because the anxiety exists entirely in the mind. It also describes in great detail the voice tonalities which are most effective when one is within an anxiety reaction, how to speak to oneself to walk oneself out of the reaction and into self-direction. I don’t have enough time/space to repeat all of this information, but I will go into what it is exactly that I will speak in blogs to come.
In my next blog I will continue with how I applied the practical steps of walking through anxiety, and how I was able to successfully avoid an anxiety reaction in one of the circumstances . This experience has changed my entire self-experience, opened up a new understanding of how things can be different, and showed me that it IS possible to learn how to become the master of one’s emotions, and no longer remain the slave to constantly feeling anxious.