Overcoming anxiety isn’t an intuitive or creative process. And it doesn’t come from digging deep or having an “aha!” moment that explains everything.
Overcoming anxiety like most things in life we want to change, takes deliberate, consistent practice of targeted strategies, repeated over time.
Not so glamorous I know. It would be so much more exciting if you, after spending months visiting a comfy overstuffed chair in my office working to uncover various childhood ups and downs, remembered that one incident that totally explained everything about your anxiety. And then, knowing that, your anxiety would plead, “Uncle!” and then disappear. It wold be like winning the recall lottery! The promise of that alone would be a compelling endeavor.
Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work. I wish I could spice up what is actually needed to help you overcome your anxiety, and I’ll try. But before we get to the targeted strategies and consistent practices we really need to check two things.
First, let’s check in with your thinking around having anxiety in general. Pause and try to identify what your thoughts are about having anxiety. What does having anxiety mean about you?
The second part is to take a moment and really become aware of your thoughts about how you get rid of anxiety. What do you think needs to happen in order for you not to have your anxiety any more? Is it even possible?
Your answers to these two questions will literally make or break your anxiety.
Your Belief System
Are they positive or negative? Set in stone or changing? Permanent or temporary? For example, do you think you are a flawed, weak human being because you have anxiety? Do you think anxiety is impossible to get rid of without some really good medication?
Here’s an example using a different struggle. Say I’m fat and think it is because I am weak, ugly and lack willpower. Let’s say I also think I’m always going to be fat because it runs in my family and on top of that, I’m big boned and have a stressful job. Can you see how I am going to have an uphill battle with losing weight with those two belief systems in place? I can tell you for sure that losing weight (with these beliefs) isn’t going to happen.
Anxiety is the same way. Your belief systems are critical in overcoming your anxiety. You’ll need to establish accurate and growth-focused foundational thoughts and beliefs about the fact that you have anxiety and that it is possible to overcome it before you will be able to make any headway in stopping your anxiety.
Tomorrow we’ll break down how to establish accurate and growth-focused foundational thoughts and beliefs. For today, just keep noticing your thoughts and beliefs about why you have anxiety and if you think it is possible to make go away.