The above is one of the many questions I asked myself when I suffered.
Yes, I could find ways and techniques to suppress it for a while, but I never discovered that illusive SECRET to making the anxiety disappear for good.
I searched every corner of the internet, nothing there but false hope and charlatans wanting to part me of my money. I read numerous books but mainly just found another bunch of coping techniques. I went to many counsellers and found all they wanted to do was dig up my past. I searched inside my own head for answers and just felt more confused than ever.
Then one day I just bottomed out and was utterly crushed by it all. I concluded that if the answer was not out there, then this is me forever. This search had utterly exhausted me, and I was done with it. I just had to accept that there were no answers.
Was this searching all a waste of time?
Not at all, because if I had not been through this search, then I would not have given up the battle I was having with myself. I would have never realised that the answer was actually to do nothing. It was all the doing, searching, worrying and the analysing that had been the problem all along and the reason I stayed in the cycle of suffering. Bottoming out was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I said in my latest book ‘At last a life and beyond‘ that one day I looked at all my self-help books and just realised that I no longer needed them. Something just clicked inside of me, and I saw them as part of the problem and not the solution.
They were part of the problem because I had read them to try and find a quick answer to take my suffering away. That is what the medication, counsellors, techniques, books and the searching were all about, everything I had ever done was aimed at trying not to feel something.
Once I bottomed out and realised that this approach just wasn’t working, I thought to myself, ‘what would happen if I didn’t attempt to feel different than I do, what would happen then?
Is all this suppressing actually keeping these emotions stored within me? Maybe these feeling and thoughts needed to be felt so they can be released. Perhaps the real suffering is coming from all the resistance and struggle and not the emotions or thoughts themselves.
Understanding is key to overcoming anxiety
One realisation after another hit me and I could not believe I had not seen this before. It made complete sense to why I had continued to suffer. I remember how I would fight my mind to try and make it quieter, to act and think differently.
I then realised that I was attempting to solve the problem with the problem, I was trying to fix the tired and weary brain by trying to think my way to a solution, and all I achieved was to tire it out further. If the mind were exhausted, then it would show the signs of exhaustion, and it was pointless and counterproductive of me to try and change how it was.
If my body was full of anxious energy through my past worry and stress, then I would feel anxious. Why the hell was I trying not to feel anxious, what chance did I have? All this constant resistance and effort was the reason for my suffering.
Learning to truly understand anxiety helped me overcome it
After I started to see things in a different light, I then did a lot of research on how the mind and body worked. I read books on Buddhism and all sorts of various teachings, but this time I did it to educate myself more and not to try and feel any different.
These teachings were telling me the same as my own conclusions and that the route I was on was entirely correct. The answer was to allow myself to feel the way I did, to fall into my suffering and not try to escape it continually. I did not see this just on an intellectual level; I saw it so profoundly that I knew there was no going back; it just made so much sense.
The reason I keep writing is to spark your own realisation; my words are pointers so that you can see this for yourself. Trust me when you see it for yourself everything changes. Your whole attitude towards how you feel shifts and a lot of fear and resistance drops away. You start to leave yourself alone more and come more and more out of your head. You finally realise you never had any control in the first place and so you step out of the way and allow your mind and body to heal of their own accord.
Recovery from anxiety requires you to go through some discomfort
This journey out of suffering is one of the toughest you will have to go through. It isn’t pretty at times as all the old stuff come up to be released. It means you have to allow what needs to come up, to come up; you have to turn towards it instead of turning away from it, you have to start living your life while harmless thoughts and emotions are running amok. You don’t cling to the bliss, and you don’t run away or try to suppress the bad, the more allowing you are of it, the better.
But at the end of the journey, it will be the best thing you ever did; you will realise how harmless thoughts and emotions are. You will realise how you did so much of this to yourself and that you were never broken in the first place and that you never had to go around trying to fix yourself and that no label given to you was actually true.
I have seen so many people bottom out, totally defeated with nothing else to try and yet this is the best stage to get to. As when you have nothing left to try, and you drop all the searching, suppressing, fighting and all the techniques and for the first time you truly start to leave yourself alone, and this is where recovery truly lies.