I get asked many times: ‘How did you give up your battle with anxiety?’
I tell people that my recovery came through making plenty of mistakes – no one made as many mistakes as I did in the early days of my suffering. One week I thought I had the answer, that this was it, the end of my suffering. When in reality, all I had found was something else to cover it up or suppress for a while.
I went from one technique to another, one concept to the next, I was always struggling with my anxiety until I finally realised that I never had any control in the first place – that nothing I could achieve peace through struggle or effort.
I saw my suffering like a snow globe that only settles when you stop shaking it. I finally realised that I could never force peace of mind, fight or think my way better. I got to this point through exhausting every avenue until I realised that battling how I felt was not the answer.
Giving up the battle with anxiety
When I finally gave up this battle with myself I felt a little calmer; it was like my body was sending me a message that this was it, that this was the answer to being free and now I had to listen.
It was through this that I started to think about how our mind and body communicated with us and had a profound realisation that our mind and body are always guiding us.
If we drink too much then we get a hangover, it is our bodies way of saying it is no good for us.
If we put our hand on a hot stove, then we feel intense pain and immediately remove it
If we eat bad food then we get a stomach ache or get sick, it is our bodies way of saying don’t eat that again, it is not good for us.
If a snake was biting our foot and we didn’t feel immediate pain, it would chew it off, so our body sends a message before this happens.
If we feel pain anywhere inside our body, it is our bodies way of saying there is a problem in that area and to go and seek a doctor and fix it.
So pain is a good thing and a vital part of our survival, it is a warning system and not there to punish us. We only continue to suffer when we carry on doing the things that are causing it, our mind or body is telling us that we still haven’t seen the source of our pain.
It is the same if I spend too much time writing a post on here without breaks. When I begin to write, I feel inspired, and the words are just flowing out of me. But I find after a few hours my mind starts getting irritable, my enthusiasm starts to drop, and my wisdom begins to weaken.
My mind is sending me a message that it needs a break; it has had enough for now. Once I heed the message, take a break and come back, then I feel refreshed and am able to write freely and happily once again.
I know the importance of now listening to my mind and body and doing what it asks me to do and not try and force it into something it doesn’t.
Psychological pain is our bodies way of telling us to stop battling with ourselves
If we feel stressed, it is our bodies way of telling us to stop worrying as it is doing us harm. If we are physically exhausted, then it is our bodies way of communicating to us that we are overusing our limbs and to take a rest.
Psychological pain is the same. The brain is an organ of the body, just like a limb. So if we start to feel mentally exhausted, it is our minds way of telling us to slow down the thinking process and take a break as the brain is being pushed beyond its limits.
Many don’t heed this initial message and so carry on overthinking, worrying or working too hard and then cross a threshold which can ultimately lead to a breakdown.
There will be many warnings before a final breakdown happens; it is just that the person did not heed them and carried on as they were. The mind and body could no longer operate under those circumstances and so a breakdown of mind and body occurs.
We create our own suffering
If you feel any kind of suffering, then there is usually a message that something you are doing is causing you to suffer, it is like an alarm that will keep going off until you listen. This message is never asking you to stress and worry more; it doesn’t even want you to treat the symptoms you are creating, it just wants you to stop doing what is causing the suffering in the first place.
When I felt overly anxious, it was my bodies way of telling me to stop worrying and stressing, that it was not good for me. When I felt mentally fatigued, it was my minds way of telling me to stop overthinking, obsessing and analysing. My mind and body were always communicating with me; it was continually trying to look after me and warn me that what I was doing was not serving me well.
I finally listened to this and many other messages it sent and was able to become the person I am today.
If you would like to read my personal story of how I overcame anxiety then you will find this and much more in my best selling book ‘At last a life’. The book has sold over 100,000 copies and is recommended by many therapists and is now on prescription at many doctors surgeries.