I asked people on my Facebook page to ask some questions on anxiety the other day and I would pick the best 3 out, here is the 3 I picked and my answers.
Q.1 I feel like I had a good hold of my anxiety and I can see the things I worry over are irrational most of the time however I feel that the physical symptoms of my anxiety take over and I become locked into the fear and panic. It almost feels like the physical symptoms come first then my mind makes up a scenario to go along with it. Is there any way of over coming this?
The first step and one that you have seen is that most of the things you worry over are irrational, the anxious mind is a master at creating worries that don’t actually exist, which is just its way of dealing with the energy being released. Creating a space between you and your fears/worries and seeing them as a manifestation of your anxiety through anxious thinking, is crucial, so you don’t then start worrying over a made up worry, creating more anxious thinking, more emotions and then getting stuck in a loop. As you say, thoughts feed the emotions and emotions feed the thoughts if we allow ourselves to get sucked in and believe what our anxious mind is telling us.
Ultimately every thought is the minds attempt to release an emotion that has been suppressed. You think it is you that needs to be liberated from your thoughts, but the opposite is true, what you are really feeling is the emotion and thoughts attempts to be liberated from you, they are trying to leave. So, the deal is to allow your mind to have all its worries and fears, let it spout any nonsense, allow it to have any movement it wishes, but in a detached way, where you are not seeing the thoughts and worries as true, you’re no longer energising and putting belief in them by getting involved. When you pull your energy, focus and belief from a thought, then it no longer creates the emotion. Belief in thought is what creates an emotion, not the thought itself. Someone can have the thought that no one likes them, if aware, they just see it as just an old anxious thought popping through and they are not affected, yet if they believe that thought, then they will get an emotional hit and then may act through it by trying to people please or becoming defensive to other. So, the deal is to just let all the anxious thoughts pass through in your awareness with no concern, let them play out as they wish. In doing so they begin to die down, they don’t have the fuel of your attention and belief to keep them alive.
When your mind is racing, if you observe it, you can sense it is excess energy, this is what causes it to race. What is the best way to stop it racing? Would it be to think more? Try and control the thoughts? Try to suppress them? No, the best way would be to allow the energy to run itself out, so allow the mind to race if it wishes, see all the negative rubbish and the worrisome scenarios it creates as just part of this energy releasing itself. If you believe the stuff it creates, if you get involved with it and start seeing it all as true, if you add worry to worry, then you create more energy and then you create more thoughts, more emotions, it’s like throwing petrol on a fire and wondering why it won’t go out.
So, to finish you break the loop by letting the whole dance of energy play itself out, yes, it is uncomfortable, but leaving it all alone without getting involved with the thoughts, without trying to put the brakes on the feelings is what brings it to rest, it burns itself out. This is not a technique, it is the total opposite of a technique. This is a full allowing of the energy within you to manifest itself in anyway it wishes and then the energy has run out without you trying to interfere, then it will come to rest when it has burned itself out, trying to stop the release is what creates more turmoil. It is the battle with themselves to control, suppress the release that is the main cause of people’s suffering, not the release itself.
Q.2 I would like to know roughly how long it took you to fully recover and how many setbacks did you have during recovery?
Each one of us is different and so I don’t want anyone thinking that how long it took me will be the same for everyone. It all depends on how long you have suffered, how open you are to feeling your anxiety etc. Me personally it took around 6 months to feel real freedom, then around another 4 months to be totally anxiety free, where I only got anxious when I should be, like most other people and not for no reason.
I am telling people this so they don’t have impossible expectations. On setbacks, I had many, but again you have to understand what a setback is, to realise that it is totally normal and a good thing. Anxiety as I have said before is just negative energy trapped within the mind and body, the energy needs releasing, there is no other way to get rid of it. To get rid of it, then you need to allow it to rise within you and leave, like the steam from a kettle. But most people don’t do this, they judge, suppress, fight, try to distract themselves from it, anything at all but to feel it, where does it then go? Nowhere, it just stays where it is ready for another go at releasing itself and with all the fighting and extra worry, more maybe added to the stores.
So, you have to realise that feeling bad is actually good, it is your bodies way of trying to get rid of this energy that is causing you so much turmoil, but you won’t let it, so what choice does it have but to keep it stored within? So me personally, I had to go through a lot of these purges. When I was open to this release of energy, then yes it was uncomfortable, there was no getting away from this fact and a purge could last between an hour and up to 2 days, but as tough as it was, I stayed open to it, I understood the process, to feel good again I had to feel bad, my body was just releasing all this stored up negative energy. If people have any doubts what it is, then look how people who have anxiety tend to ramble, not be able to sit still, it is just too much energy in the body, why do people feel better after the gym or a run? It has burnt a lot off for a short period of time, until the body then replenishes itself.
Just knowing what it was, really helped me through this process and I knew no harm would come from me allowing myself to go through this process. Your body though cannot get rid of all this energy in one go, so it goes through cycles, this is what a setback is. It has got rid of a whole chunk of energy and then if you allow it, you can have a period of bliss after, some of my most blissful experiences came after the toughest releases. But I knew this was not the end, I knew the body would go through another purge and that was fine, in fact I looked forward to it in a way as I knew this was where progress was really at, feeling bad meant more was being released and I wanted it gone. Feeling good was great and I welcomed it, but feeling bad was good also, as more stuff was coming up to leave and taking me nearer recovery. The whole deal really is not to cling to any bliss and don’t reject the bad, which is what keeps so many people stuck.
In the space of a few months the purges came less strongly and less frequently, I could have a few weeks feeling great and then when I felt rotten, it was pretty easy to deal with as the intensity was way lower than before as so much had been released. Then the point came when I felt real freedom, the anxiety was all but gone, the racing/fearful thoughts all but stopped. So, yes setbacks are a good thing, what most people do when they have a period of feeling good is think they have cracked it, that it is all behind them, I have seen this so often. Then when the energy comes back up to be released they try to shut the process off again, they berate themselves for feeling this way, they search back to try and find what made them feel so good the week before, run to something to try to make themselves feel good again, which is the total opposite of what you should do, you must continue to be open to anything. So nothing has gone wrong in a setback, you have not gone backwards, it is just your body having another release. In fact, this is a good thing, a chance for you to release that energy, the less energy within your mind and body, the less anxiety you feel, the less you suffer psychologically.
Q.3 How do you tackle anxiety without feeling pressure to get rid of it? I feel like all the self-help stuff comes with so much pressure of “I’m doing this specifically to alleviate anxiety” that whilst you’re doing it you’re worried it’s not going to work, so it won’t. Don’t know if that makes sense!
All I can say on this is exactly what happened to me and many others who have recovered have told me. I am not trying to convince anyone I am right, people can make their own decisions if what I say resonates with them. So, what I write below is not meant to start a debate, as no one can convince me otherwise and I have no intention of convincing them either, but what I write rings so true with me on a very deep level and is what brought me recovery.
Trying to get rid of or alleviate anxiety will never work, trust me you will end up on the self help treadmill forever if you attempt to do this, I tried for 10 years as I was pretty clueless in those days and got worse, it utterly exhausted me mentally to. I basically had to try every technique, every book, every counsellor, I had to exhaust myself with trying before I realised that this was not going to work. I remember thinking, if someone had the magic answer to get rid of anxiety then I would not have to search for it. I looked at all my self help books, the pills I had taken, the counsellors I had seen and asked myself, what has this all been about? It has all been about trying not to feel something and nothing has changed, am I going to keep blindly going down this route when it is not working? What if I no longer tried to feel different than I do, what would happen then?
What is avoidance? Is the problem really the supermarket, the social event, the car drive? No, it is all about not feeling anxiety, this is what is causing all the problems, what is keeping me stuck in the loop. This is what is really restricting my life, it is all about avoiding this energy release. This really was the start of me seeing things from a totally different angle, it taught me no one and no thing out there could get rid of my anxiety.
This anxiety was not something I could get rid of, this anxiety was something I was going to have to feel, avoiding, suppressing, trying to sort out had only made me worse, this made perfect sense, as how could I get rid of something I was denying myself to feel. It made utter, utter sense to me. It made total sense to me why the self help market had failed me, as it was all about the promise to get rid of it, without feeling it. I can’t tell you how much money I wasted on this promise. Every new counsellor I saw at the time gave me a new technique to try, more suppressing, more things to carry around in my head, more ways to avoid feeling it, so it stayed in my body and created havoc.
What I found was, the whole self help market only brought me temporary relief, so a new book and I would feel good for a while after, but a few days later I would be back in old habits. The counsellor would make me feel good and hopeful , then a few hours later I would be back to where I was. A lot of the self help market is all about the next book, the next retreat, the next session, it keeps people hanging on, like, nearly there folks, not far now. I am not having a go at the whole self help market here, there are a lot more well educated people than in my day, if someone educates you on anxiety and what it is, I am all for it, absolutely. As the more you understand, the less you fear it and the more allowing you are to allow yourself to feel it. I also think someone understanding to talk to is good to, it helps release a lot of mental space.
My point is you don’t need to keep on searching for relief. Recovery can never lie in temporary relief, it will never sort out the underlying problem and the underlying problem can never be sorted out if someone is constantly searching for temporary relief. It will also never come from a technique, as a technique is again all about suppression. If you’re looking at the self help market to make something go away then I am afraid you will be searching for a long time, if you look at it to educate yourself so you understand enough to allow yourself to let go and feel it then this is the direction you need to take.
So allowing myself to feel all this energy within me in instead of trying to find ways to control, or suppress it brought tremendous relief to me, in a sense that I threw all my books out, threw away all my techniques, I did not need to go and see anyone anymore. There was nothing to fight, nothing to go over, nothing to suppress, nothing to fix. The mental energy this freed up was amazing to.
I always tell people when I allowed myself to feel all this energy stored within me, it was like a detox, I felt more than ever, as it was like I had finally turned the tap on and was no longer trying to turn it off, this energy had full freedom to manifest itself as it wished. I had some real tough periods, this energy was not nice to feel and the instinct was to try and turn it off, but I wanted it gone and I resisted the urge to close off to it. I would often need space and time on my own when it got tough. I would also have periods of calm within the storm as chunks of energy were released and then the cycle may start again. I just had to stay as allowing as possible to it all, if my mind raced, created scary thoughts then so be it, if my body was racked with anxiety, then fine, this is a good thing, let it all come up, I want it gone.
So, I would say follow what resonates with you. I came across a few teachings that resonated with me, ones that educated me on how the mind and body worked. Anything that did not resonate with me I discarded, it wasn’t for me. But most of all I was my own best teacher. I really started to see things on a deep level. I went with my own intuition, my own wisdom and came to a lot of my own answers. Answers that made utter sense to me. We all have this in us, I can’t just physically pass my understanding on to others, I can only write words down and hope that they can see it for themselves. I have seen people read my book in one sitting and bham they have truly got the message and made huge strides very quickly, others take more time. It all depends on how the words resonate with them, if they truly see the message behind the words and see something for themselves. Me explaining something in a different way can give someone a real Aha moment and the reason I keep writing.
Well I hope that answers a few concerns. I am sorry I have a really busy schedule and won’t be able to answer anymore questions for now, but may do this again in the future.