“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.”
If you can recall and bring up the experience of anxiety within yourself, you can probably relate to that fact that the energy experience is sporadic, chaotic and intense. This detail is important to remark because we can use this information to see, realize and understand the best way to approach ourselves when we are in these situations (beginning an anxiety reaction). If, for example, we are too hard on ourselves, the anxiety energy can and will use this approach to further intensify itself. If we panic, it can also serve to fuel the anxiety. If we become mad or frustrated, it can perpetuate the anxiety.
It’s as if a child is throwing a tantrum and the parent screams at the child in an attempt to subdue or control him to make it stop. This can further upset the child and fuel/perpetuate the tantrum. Now compare this to speaking in a calm and stable manner to the child, this may not be an instant blanket solution, but it will not further aggravate the situation, and the child can be talked down slowly, and the tantrum can not last forever. Anxiety within self functions in the same way.
This example demonstrates how our self-approach can either assist and support ourselves to walk through and out of the anxiety in a calm and stable manner, or conversely, how it can further perpetuate the experience if we do not take the wheel, gain control and direct ourselves.
Within this understanding, one can keep in mind that any self-judgment, guilt, anger, shame, or any other emotion can and will be exaggerated when in an anxiety reaction, and therefore serves only to aggravate the situation, whereas being calm, stable and gentle can dissipate the chaotic, sporadic and intense experience going on within us. This is the difference between getting caught up in the anxiety and believing it is necessary, believing that there is no way out, and this is ‘who I am’, instead of understanding it as a reaction that has been triggered and will now play out, but that we can remain standing within the understanding that we can choose not to play into it.
The goal here is to eventually prevent the reaction from occurring in the first place, but we must first deal with what is already here, which is the existence of anxiety reactions and generalized anxiety which we see as beyond our control. It is not.
In order to see the control one truly do have, it is important to understand what is going on within self. Within this we are practicing how to look at everything to do with anxiety completely objectively; to see anxiety as a reaction, a substance or an entity that is triggered by thoughts/memories, to recognize that this simply requires to be managed by oneself, and to understand that anxiety is not simply an inevitable part of self that one must learn to live with and constantly react to.
To illustrate, here is a practical example from my life where I was able to recognize the anxiety quickly and dissipate the reaction:
Last week, I was about to start cooking (which, in my previous blog I had mentioned as one example of when my anxiety is triggered). I had just had a very busy day and when I got home I could feel I was high strung. I felt a stress and a buzzing sensation in my body, and instead of calming myself down, I immediately moved myself to begin the next task, which was to prepare dinner. Within this internal energetic experience of ‘stress’, ‘rushed’ and ‘buzzing’, it feels like there is a pressure to do everything quickly and hurriedly, everything is rushed and there is no time for rest. This set of circumstances set me up for falling into the anxiety reaction I described in my first example from my previous blog, where my anxiety connects to a sense of overwhelming-ness.
I was alone at home at that moment so I was able to speak to myself out loud. First, I used the breathing techniques, and then I used a specific voice tonality (calm, stable and directive, to offset the intense, chaotic and sporadic energy of anxiety), and spoke some self-forgiveness for what I could see I was doing to myself.
In the same calm, directed and stable voice, I talked to myself about what I was doing, how I was making things more difficult for myself and that it wasn’t necessary, and how I could proceed calmly and in an organized way. I was able to slow down and create steps for myself, and eventually I put together a meal while remaining as present and aware as possible. When my partner came home I recognized the fact that my mood was light, I was able to have fun and communicate easily and enjoy the moment, which then allowed him to be light and open, even after a long day at work.
If I had accepted and allowed the anxiety reaction, I would have instead experienced what I had become so used to, which was feelings of varying degrees of irritation, impatience, or no desire to communicate. When another person is subjected to this the mood feels heavy and tense. If ones’ partner comes home after a long day at work and is met with someone that is overwhelmed/stressed causing irritability, impatience and being non-communicative due to anxiety, it affects the entire atmosphere, the moment and the overall relationship negatively. This can contribute to creating a toxic home environment, especially when repeated daily over many years. This is one of the consequences of accepting and allowing oneself to live with generalized anxiety, it doesn’t just affect yourself, so the responsibility to face and manage one’s anxiety disorder is a self-responsibility which extends beyond self, to create a harmonious environment with others (sometimes by standing as a living, leading example – yes, we are THAT strong).
Within my own self-assessment, what I’ve learned over the past few weeks has been that it is of utmost importance that one recognize the brief moment where anxiety first starts – before it is able to connect to and amplify other emotions, memories, personalities and patterns. This is because in that small moment, when I look at it and recognize it, and can say to myself “oh, this is just anxiety sneaking in because of the particular circumstances I am in,” and the anxiety feels small, insubstantial and powerless. But when I miss this moment, the anxiety is able to connect itself to the emotions, memories and thoughts, then an anxiety reaction has been triggered and it must now be navigated through.
Once an anxiety reaction is triggered, it must now be walked through.
Walking through an anxiety reaction:
Being within an anxiety reaction feels so real, and the anxiety feels so much a part of me that to deny it would be to deny my own existence. I try saying to myself “it’s just anxiety, it’s just anxiety,” but part of me fights back, proving to myself it is real and valid, and I experience rushes of emotional energy, and I am flooded by negative thoughts and future projections. In these moments, when I’ve missed the opportunity – I direct myself to breathe, I feel the waves of anxiety pass over me. It feels extremely uncomfortable and unbearable, but I tell myself it will end, it can’t last forever, it has to end eventually. I sometimes speak self-forgiveness to understand where the reaction came from in order to trace it back to the thoughts or memories that triggered it. This is what the tool of self-forgiveness allows one to do. I have to continuously pull myself back into my body, even f it feels exceptionally uncomfortable in there. I pull myself out of my mind, because I understand that is where it is all taking place. I try to keep myself as physical as possible, feeling my body and focusing on what I’m doing. Continue to do these steps, to focus on breathing and self-acceptance.
Embrace and accept self within the reaction – do not perpetuate it by judging self or becoming angry or upset, instead embrace it as what you are experiencing FOR THE MOMENT because of having gone into auto-pilot in unawareness the moment before. Watch for the thoughts/emotions/memories/fantasies that will come to fuel the anxiety. Gently but firmly direct oneself to stop thinking about them, and focus on the HERE, NOW moment in your physical environment. The anxiety will end, and things will go back to normal in a matter of time. It’s just a matter of time.
Prevention is the Best Cure
The best solution is to keep practicing being able to recognize the moment anxiety first starts, because that is where it can be stopped. The goal is to prevent the reactions from taking place at all. This requires a slowing down within self, and a self-awareness perhaps not previously developed. I will work on these aspects over the next weeks, by studying my examples of ‘anxiety-triggering situations’ I wrote about in my last blog. I will ‘study’ them by walking through them one by one, doing self-forgiveness on all the points so that I reveal to myself any hidden self-sabotage and to see what exactly is going on that leads me to create an anxiety reaction within myself. This will be the topic for my next blog.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more!