Making space for your anxious feelings
Today I wanted to talk about giving space to unwanted thoughts and feelings as I still read posts on here about people wanting to find ways to rid themselves of anxious thoughts and feelings. One of the best tools to do this is to give them space to be there and just see them as a passing emotion.
I used to wake full of anxiety, while my head was all muddled with worrying and disturbing thoughts. I would then spend the first hour of my day trying to make sense of it all, question it and try different things to make myself feel better. This used to have the opposite effect and make me feel worse most of the time. Then one day I remember waking and feeling awful and then just as I was about to start the struggle, I just decided to let the feelings be there without struggle or objection, just for once they were allowed to be there and take up my space. I did not do this to feel better, I had just had enough. The result was that I instantly felt calmer and more at ease and realised I then had been doing everything wrong. It was the struggle that was keeping me in the loop. These feelings needed to be there and the more I tried to push them away, then the more they knocked on the door. They were like a troublesome party guest that you keep trying to throw out, only for him to keep knocking whilst making more noise, the more you struggle to get rid of him, then the angrier he gets and the more he tries to bother you.
Another example was that I was awful at talking on phones for a long period of time. I used to get pretty anxious and would try and either cut the call short or ramble my way through it the best I could, I would also pace up and down whilst taking the call. I think the anxiety of how I was coming across was the problem. I was pretty advanced in my recovery at this point and it was just something that I thought I was stuck with and had no idea why. I then remember taking a call from an old friend and start pacing up and down whilst trying to hold it together by rambling on, when a huge light bulb moment came on and I realised that it was not the phone call that was the problem, it was my feelings I was running away from and that I was not giving them space to be there. I instantly stopped pacing up and down and allowed myself to feel anxious instead of rambling and pacing up and down to cover it all up. Again the difference was immense and I started to feel far more at one with the conversation and not me. In a short space of time I was fine talking on the phone, it was me that was creating the problem by not giving myself space to feel anxious, instead I was anxious about feeling anxious, which just doubled the feeling.
This is also the way to get past anxious thinking, allow space for your anxious thoughts to be there. Don’t expect instant miracles or use this as a tool to rid yourself of them, just allow them as much space as need be without expectation of how your thinking should be. It is all about being more at peace with yourself whatever is going on in that moment. It is a big realisation to people that they can actually be at peace while they don’t feel great. It is the resistance to not feeling great, that has them losing their real sense of peace.
To finish, anxious thoughts and feelings just want a chance to be allowed, to be felt and then they will go quietly, if you keep pushing them away and go into struggle mode, then they will keep knocking for your attention until you finally allow their presence.
How you feel now is totally natural in the circumstances, so stop struggling with yourself and leave it be.
Hope that helps is some way