//Why does life bring so much suffering?

Why does life bring so much suffering?

Why is life making me suffer?

I used to ask myself this very question, as I always seemed to be in some form of suffering. Yes, I would have some good days along the way, but I spent most of my time unhappy and always seemed to be worrying about something or other.

Life just always seemed to be against me and wouldn’t fall into my ideal; nothing seemed to go right, and people didn’t act in the way I wanted or say what I thought they should say.

I was always searching for what was missing while thinking the outside could give it to me and so that’s where I looked. I thought, ‘I just need that promotion, a new car, a new partner, my own home and then I will finally be happy’ yet I achieved most of these things and still peace and happiness eluded me.

I also thought I had to manipulate the world into what I wanted it to be to find peace and happiness. If only I could get others to act how I wanted them to be, then I would finally be OK. I concluded like so many others do that it was the fault of the outside world and others why I was unhappy and that I just needed to make sure the outside and others were how I wanted them to be, and then peace of mind and happiness would follow.

This peace of mind and happiness is what everyone is looking for; they aren’t looking for the new car as a possession, they are looking for how it will make them feel. But how can a lump of metal ever make you feel happy inside? It can’t; it will never fill that lack inside, nothing on the outside can.

I genuinely believe that is why so many people do suffer these days as we are constantly bombarded with how we should look, how much money we should have, what material things we need, what job we need, what relationship we should have. That unless we achieve these things, then we can’t be happy. Unfortunately, the consumer market only has one interest, and your inner happiness is not one of them.

I finally realised that finding peace and happiness is an inside job and that the outside may bring snippets here and there, but I won’t find true peace and joy out there if I don’t already feel it within.

Blaming the outside can harm our friendships and relationships.

Friends and couples arguing

Blaming the outside for how we are feeling is also why many friendships and relationships can break down, as we mistakenly blame the other person for our emotional disturbance and unhappiness.

Because we blame them for how we are feeling, then we may lash out or think that the answer to our happiness is to change them and this is what ends up causing so much friction and arguments.

We can end up lashing out at others because we genuinely believe that this is what is causing us to feel the way that we do. It is the same with life, if we honestly think that life is making us suffer then we attempt to manipulate it. When this doesn’t work, we get angry, frustrated, stressed and so of course we suffer.

You have no control over others

The simple truth is that we have no control over how others are, who they are is hardwired into them and the result of the experiences they have had in life.

If they truly aren’t the person for you and the majority of their behaviour genuinely does make you unhappy, then in most cases you have the choice to leave the relationship or friendship behind.

But if you genuinely love and care for that person and want more peace and less drama in your friendships and relationships then begin to accept them as they are. Even if there are little quirks that annoy you then just recognise that no one is perfect.

Celebrate the fact we are all different; you cannot mould someone into who you want them to be. All attempts will just make them resent you and cause so much unwanted friction and drama and in some cases end up in you losing that person.

In my days of suffering, I lost a couple of relationships and a good friendship, as I too eventually blamed them for how I was feeling, I concluded that if I was suffering, then it had to be them.

It was only when I took a break and stepped back that I realised that I was the cause of the problems and that I was just projecting and blaming the other person for how I was feeling and so the inevitable break up followed.

It was at this point that I realised that I was doing the same thing with life. I was blaming my lack of happiness and inner peace on life itself. I honestly thought my life was the reason I was suffering and so I either spent all my time complaining about it or trying to manipulate it and then getting angry when it wouldn’t fall into place.

I would complain when it rained, complain when I was stuck in traffic, moan when the shop ran out of milk, get angry if someone cancelled on me, the list was endless.

man complaining

The irony is that all of these things that I thought were making me suffer, I didn’t have one ounce of control over. Yet, there I was spending my whole day complaining about them!! There were people in the world who had no food, water or transport and could only dream of going to the shop to buy food, to drive a car and be stuck in traffic or have water drop from the sky so they could cure their thirst, and there was I complaining about it all.

I started to understand now that my suffering and my breakdown was not due to life but my non-acceptance of life as it was. It began to make real sense as to why I was always stressed and unhappy.

My lack of happiness and peace was due to my complete resistance to life as it was and because of this, my mind was never at peace with anything.

If my mind was always disturbed, stressed, worried and complaining then it made sense as to why I was never at peace. Life and others didn’t need to change to suit me; this was all down to my attitude changing.

Accepting life is full of ups and downs

Lifes ups and downs

The end of so much of my suffering was about seeing life and reality as it truly was and making peace with it, even when things didn’t go my way. I never complained when life went well, so why would I complain when it didn’t? Where was the rule made that it must always go our way?

The truth is that life is full of ups and downs, good and bad things will happen, that was the reality of life. But I never accepted this; life always had to go how I wanted it to, and others must behave how I thought they should. I was at constant war with my experience and then wondered why I suffered as I did!

It seems utterly crazy to me now that I could ever believe this could be possible and that I could ever think I could find peace with this mindset. The odds of one day going exactly how I felt it should, would be over a billion to one, never mind for the rest of my life.

Life didn’t care about me or my needs; it just carried on regardless. I could either accept the reality of life with all its ups and downs or I could spend all my days suffering by fighting, worrying and getting angry with it. I tried the latter approach for many years and life always won; it wouldn’t change because I wanted it. I still got stuck in traffic, it continued rained on my day off, and I still couldn’t find my keys when I was late.

I finally accepted that life was a mixture of ups and downs, highs and lows. Some days great things would happen, and other days everything would go wrong. This process was part of life, and the ones who suffer less are the ones who accept this.

I used to come across people who always seem to be chilled and calm, nothing seemed to go wrong, and I thought they were just lucky. Looking back now, I realise it had nothing to do with luck; they mainly had the same problems as others, but they just accepted them as part of life. It wasn’t life that created their inner calm; it was their attitude towards it.

A true story of how a change in attitude brought less suffering

I have told the story below before, but I think it is worth repeating as it had such an effect on me and taught me a lot about how we create so much of our own suffering.

It is a story about a man who had fought in the gulf war where he lost a leg and half his arm in combat and was bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

He said when he first arrived home, he would argue with everyone around him, snap at his partner and children. He wouldn’t accept any help and started drinking heavily. He felt immense frustration and anger due to his situation and what life had thrown at him and fell into a deep depression.

He was on the verge of ending it all and looked at his daughter sleeping when a sudden realisation hit him. He realised he did have so much to live for and that even with his disability he could still enjoy life. He may not look like he did before but inside he felt like the same person, and that it was only the anger at his predicament that was changing his personality.

He said it was at that moment that he fully accepted his situation and with it, this immense calm come over him. He realised he wasn’t suffering because of being in a wheelchair but because he hadn’t accepted it.

This man went on to represent his country in the Paralympics and now does talks all over the country to those in the same situation.

This story hit me very hard when I read it, and it took me back to my non-acceptance of my anxiety that created so much extra suffering. When I initially suffered, I was always fighting against it, arguing with it and feeling sorry for myself, not once did I accept my situation.

I remember feeling a similar peace when I let go and just allowed myself to fall into it. The anxiety was still there, but it felt different now I had finally allowed its presence and all the extra suffering created through the resistance to it fell away.

I realised the same principle held true for my life, that life wasn’t making me suffer, it was my non-acceptance of the ups and downs of it that did. My suffering was telling me that I wasn’t accepting life and others as they were.

accepting life

This realisation is just pure science that if you allow things to be as they are, then there is nothing to stress or worry about, so then only peace remains. I am not saying this is easy at first, especially when we are conditioned to react differently, but with practice, it does start to become a more natural way of being.

My first test came when I was out cycling and had my wallet and phone stolen from my car. Apart from the financial cost, this was a major headache to me as it meant changing all my bank cards, getting a new driving licence and also the hassle of getting a new phone.

But even though all this had happened, I was strangely calm, like I had this inner knowing that there was nothing I could do about it. What had happened was the reality of the situation, and there was no point getting stressed or worried about it, all I could do was go and sort it out.

I would not say that I always reacted correctly and at times I did fall back into old responses, but overall there was a real shift in my attitude and due to this I found a lot more inner peace.

Accepting life as it is

man accepting life as it is

Accepting life as it is doesn’t mean you don’t try and achieve anything, it’s good to succeed as long as it is not to the detriment of your health.

It also doesn’t mean you shrug your shoulders and stop caring. It means you learn to accept the reality of the situation and then take what action is needed to resolve it in a calm and balanced way. Understanding that getting angry and stressed about it only hurts you and does nothing to change the situation.

I know there are things in life that really test us and I recently had a situation where I couldn’t help but feel the strain of it. I didn’t try and deny this, I accepted the predicament and just did the best I could and allowed the concern to be present while adding no more worry to the mix.

I also realise that some really traumatic things have happened to people in their life that have caused them a lot of pain and they may need extra help and support to work through them.

But I am mainly reaching out to those who continuously stress and worry over everyday problems, things that they have no control over. To help them see that not one person who has lived on this planet has never had anything not go wrong.

I am not saying this new attitude happens overnight, it doesn’t, but life will present you with opportunities every day to practice, and in time the new approach becomes automatic.

It is about training your mind to react differently to a situation, so it spends more time in a calm space and less time in a frantic, worrying state. The less you worry and stress, then the more your mind begins to calm down naturally, and so you start to feel more peace in your life.

So much suffering is self-created

Woman stressing

I was the reason I had a breakdown; it wasn’t due to my life or circumstances; it was a wrong vision on my part, a non-acceptance of reality as it was. My life didn’t need to change for me to be happy and find peace, just my relationship with it.

My suffering was actually telling me this and guiding me back to the right path, it forced me to look and change and so it that sense it was a blessing.

You can’t create peace; as it is your natural state. To experience it, then you just need to stop doing the things that are disturbing it. My worrying, complaining and stressing is what took me away from it. You look at anyone who suffers, and in most cases, you will find a chronic worrier, stressor or someone who always expects things to go their way. Life won’t fall into place for them to no longer suffer, only a change in attitude and perception will.

Life still brings me the same problems and challenges as it did before but my reaction and way of dealing with them are entirely different. I no longer spend my time pointlessly complaining or worrying, and due to this, I have a much more peace in my life.

Life didn’t change to bring me far more peace and happiness, I did.

Paul David
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Paul David

Paul David owner and sole contributor of this blog and https://anxietynomore.co.uk. Author of the best selling book on overcoming anxiety 'At last a life' and the follow up 'At last a life and beyond. Lover of all animals and the outdoors.
Paul David
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By |2019-02-23T02:18:23+00:00November 6th, 2018|Anxiety|179 Comments


  1. Samuel 6th November 2018 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks a lot Paul and I think I finally have a chance to talk to You.

    I get so much trapped in social situations,and that cause much conflicts in my mind

    I have read both of your books and and have moved from experiencing anxiety always.
    Currently,I could experience some months with no anxiety where everything is easier,good social life and it feels like I never suffered anxiety ,and then wham!,anxiety kicks in

    I’m currently experiencing a setback,and I really experience chaos in social situations…I feel more anxiety in my head than bodily sensations
    Tho,I allow my mind but its so difficult to allow anxiety and still do the things like talking to friends etc.I feel a strong resistance(chaos) in my head when I attempt to hold a conversation with some people I had been ignoring due to anxiety.The mental resistance seem automatic and so strong!
    And if I manage to hold a conversation too,my mind feels so tired with nothing to say,which makes the conversation terrible and this whole scenario re-inforces me to better ignore to communicate with group of friends when really anxious.

    And My mind keeps obsessing whether I’m doing the right thing,and thoughts like”I need to force and hold conversations if I really want to rewire my mind and gain back my social life” keeps running through my mind and I feel helpless whether Am doing the right thing and I feel I’m acting a whole lot too.

    Paul,I have learnt to allow anxietal symptoms from your book and it has brought me this far,but I am really lost with social anxiety despite reading the few you said about it in your books

    I apologize my comment seem complicated but I couldn’t explain it any better and I hope it resonates.
    I really need your help

    • Amalia 16th January 2019 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Hi all. Just wondering how everyone handles going to work and recover at the same time? Do some feel the need to take a leave of absence before having a severe mental breakdown due to severe anxiety?

  2. Elle 7th November 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Another great post Paul, thank you for that! Can I ask your opinion on one thing though? you mention that people may need extra help to work through traumatic events that have happened in their lives. What if they didn’t actually care about these things much before they got anxiety but due to having anxiety they seem massive and think constantly about them. Just like irrational thoughts really that stick. Would you say that it’s the anxiety looking for a release? As before these things were never really thought about and if so they were just passing thoughts, memories with no emotional attachment to them.


  3. Paul David 7th November 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Elle, I said that mainly so people wouldn’t start thinking, ‘well my life did make me suffer’ as deeper painful memories are not what the post was about. If you don’t care and have let it go then that’s great, no extra work is needed, others may need to talk through and process their feelings, whatever works best for them.

    The anxious energy is the fuel for these thoughts, the energy is manifesting itself and trying to find an outlet and an exhausted mind can also make them feel sticky or like they are stuck on repeat. You can also find old subconscious memories coming up to be released too.

    The thoughts really are not important as long as you just allow their presence, don’t identify with them and just let them go. See it as a purification, the more allowing you are, the more old stuff you release. So yes have no emotional attachment to your thoughts. This can take a little practice as we are so used to taking them seriously and so hooking on to them and creating more thinking.

    Whenever my mind went noisy, chaotic or thoughts were stuck on repeat, I just relaxed and didn’t try and do anything about it, it was just noise in the background and it would calm down when it had released what it wanted to release and its momentum came down. The content to me was of no importance, even it was only memories coming up, nothing was off limits.

    With this attitude my inner space began to free up, my mind became more silent as I stopped involving myself with the mind’s noise. It was free to be as quiet or as noisy as it wished.

    The more you get involved with the mind’s noise, then the noiser it gets, as you are just adding thinking on top of thinking, so you just stir it up more. If you just leave it to blare out what it wishes, seeing it just releasing old memories and garbage, then in time it begins to find its own silence. Whatever you leave alone will come to rest all by itself, that is pure physics and true of everything.

  4. Elle 7th November 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you Paul! I’m sure my mind is just bringing up old garbage to release the energy and I’m making the mistake of getting involved, silly me!

    Thanks again Paul, you are the best!??

  5. Ruby 8th November 2018 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I hope its okay if I repost my text from the previous post. I hope some of you guys can help.

    Hey Paul and others,

    Paul thank you for your message, but I would be very glad if u could go more into detail with the ‘letting go message’.

    Almost every day my mind is racing and I feel kind of dizzy like foggy. When I’m walking I have a feeling of unsureness in my legs , like Im going to faint / fall.
    So my brain is constantly on high alert (it feels like this) and I cannot stop thinking about this feelings of ‘uncertainty’ – a feeling like something bad is about to happen! It keeps me really away of normal living.. I really try to accept and not overthink about this but at the end I find myself doing so.. And this feelings of dread and dizzyness/ foggy feeling in my head – or this lightness in my legs – somehow convince my brain that there is something wrong with me , and really I feel all the time this ‘feeling that there is something bad about to happen with me’..

    I also that i have no interest in events that normally would bring me joy and fun. I am also often so tired and feel this fatique in my body – a feeling that I just want to sleep and nothing else..thoughts that I might be depressed and that there is something wrong with my psyche..

    I would be glad if you could give me some advise with this.

    Thank you & Best regards.

  6. Isaac 8th November 2018 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you Paul for all the wonderful information you share in this website and in your book.
    Thank you man you are the best.

  7. Paul David 11th November 2018 at 6:47 am - Reply

    My pleasure Issac, thanks for taking the time to comment

  8. Patrick 11th November 2018 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Thank you Paul!

  9. Alz 12th November 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Paul ,
    I’m hoping you can reply . How does one stop questioning if something is real or not ? I mean I’m questioning reality 24/7 and whenever I’m narrating something I’m questioning if it happened or not . This is classic dp/dr but how do I let go ..

  10. Ruby 12th November 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Paul would be great if u could take some time to reply.
    I would be thankful.

  11. Belgian 13th November 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Alz & Ruby,

    You are too heavily focused on your symptoms. By now, you know they are all the effects of adrenaline. It’s exaggerated stress. You know that by examining them, questioning them you are adding stress to this stress.

    The ‘treatment’ for DP is the same as for all symptoms. Utter acceptance. Why? By accepting your symptoms, you are not adding stress to the stress. You are giving your body a chance to relax. To recover. All of what Paul says is in this little word: acceptance.

    I can recommend the recorded audio books from Claire Weekes. Her message is basically the same as Paul’s and listening to her has helped me through difficult times.

    One important note though: you will not recover here on this blog nor at any other online platform. Ultimately, recovery lies in living your life with or without anxiety. I guarantee you that all of these feelings will leave you. They are not forever.

  12. Alz 13th November 2018 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Belgian where can I find Claire Weekes audio book? Is it somewhere online (fr free) . Also how do I deal with the lack of sleep and palpitations ? I’m exhausted ?

  13. Ruby 14th November 2018 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Dear Belgian,

    Thanks alot for your message..
    And yes you are right.. of course recovery lies in the outside world and not in online plattform.

    I also wanted to ask you what your advice with extreme fatiqu and tiredness would me.. Im feeling so often in the day so extreme tired, and then im gtting catched in this anxity loop, with worrying thoughts like what it could be.. an illness or depression or something else serious..

    would be very grateful for your reply.

    Kind regards!

  14. Nisha 14th November 2018 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Paul or others, I need a small clarification.
    It’s said that these are release of old energy but unconsciously we get involved with it. Rather we have to be a detached observer, it makes more sense. Also, we read about old beliefs and practices and to create new beliefs and perceptions. This can’t be done without teaching the mind by replacing the old beliefs. Here comes the confusion. How would I install new beliefs and perceptions without interrupting those false beliefs and thoughts? Looking for better understanding and more clarity please.

    Thank you:-)

  15. Paul David 15th November 2018 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Everyone

    Sorry about not being able to reply, my workload is extremely heavy at the minute with 101 things to do. Even this post above took 3 full days to write, edit and proofread. I didn’t really have time but it had been so long since I posted that I felt I needed to get something new out there.

    I am now currently revamping the main site and deleting and upgrading old posts on here. Then I am onto making some videos for youtube. So it is not out of not wanting to, I really have so much to do and don’t log in here as much as I used to.

    Ruby here is an article on mental exhaustion that you mention https://anxietynomore.co.uk/anxiety-mental-exhaustion/

    It seems to me you are in a cycle of constantly worrying/thinking which is causing you to be mentally exhausted/fatigued but you then worry and over think this feeling of mental exhaustion which just exhausts you further, it is a classic loop. You need to allow the exhaustion without then worrying about it, trying to sort or figure it out, as the last thing your brain now is more worrying/thinking.

  16. Alz 16th November 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Paul , can you reply to my post as well?

  17. Stephanie 17th November 2018 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz,

    The answer is the same for all symptoms. Stop the questioning and worrying and go about your day. You have a newborn, so of course you’re exhausted. Wondering if there’s something wrong with you or worrying about how you’re going to cope is only making you feel more exhausted. Instead, accept that you’re tired and get as much rest as you can. If you find yourself habitually worrying/questioning, so be it – no need to engage with “oh no, it’s happening again, there must be something wrong with me!!” It takes practice not to get sucked into the cycle, so be patient with yourself.

  18. Alz 18th November 2018 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Thanks Stephanie !
    Ur right! I need rest which I’m not being able to get which is perhaps exacerbating my anxiety . Talking, mixing up words / dates, finding everything strange , feeling like I need to get my old life back and tht it’s not going to happen because I’v reached such a low .. I guess I need to hv faith, patience and courage .

  19. Isaac 18th November 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Acceptance in the beginning is an active choice not a thing that just happens automatically.
    It means consciously letting go of all the thoughts that pop in to your head regarding your anxiety/symptoms/feelings/thoughts.
    And to live in the present moment

  20. Alz 18th November 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    So one has to choose to accept tht all of the symptoms are happening and not judge them .. right now they’re so many !

  21. Mark M 18th November 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Hey everyone, I’m wondering if anyone has had the obsessive thought ‘you are not accepting enough your situation’ or ‘you don’t want to recover enough’. I think it’s anxiety playing tricks, but I think I’ve bought into them a little too much. Just wondering if people had similar obsessive thoughts?

  22. Stephanie 19th November 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Our minds, especially in a sensitive state, conjur up all kinds of thoughts. Then we convince ourselves that if we’re having these kind of thoughts we must be losing our mind, there must be something wrong with us, we’ll never recover, etc. But thoughts are just thoughts. Just like we can’t think our way out of anxiety, we also aren’t thinking our way into anxiety. It’s always our response to a thought that matters. The less response we give to “anxiety” thoughts, the more our mind realizes all is well and slowly starts to calm and settle. So, as always, accept that for the time being your mind may race/be cloudy/etc, and then continue with your day. You may continue to have that habitual reaction to certain thoughts, but accept that too without adding anything further.

  23. Nolan 21st November 2018 at 2:46 am - Reply

    You don’t have to overthink what it means to accept something.
    I understand the strong urge to “get it perfectly right” but that mindset isn’t too helpful.

    In practice it’s doing other things with your life regardless of how you feel, with the understanding that you still may feel terrible for a period of time.

    When someone has a fit (short or long) of anxiety they tend to collapse in on themselves: mentally they’re trying to make sense of all of it, find some escape hatch, run scenario after scenario over in their mind. They’re constantly talking about it (poll taking: asking numerous people essentially the same question in hopes that one answer will give them all the peace they were looking for), constantly reading online about; tailoring all of their plans (if they even still make any) to the ebb and flow of anxiety/depression.

    Acceptance is not an immediate stain remover – in the sense that as soon as you have finally got the right understanding of it in place then all of the pain will just drip off of you. That doesn’t happen.

    It’s like happiness: you don’t tell yourself “okay, now I’m going to start having a happy disposition in my life.” You’d laugh if someone told you that that was their plan for being ‘more happy’. Being happy isn’t a goal – it’s potential side effect of having other things in your life that move you forward. But if you only did those other things in hopes that you’d find a wealth of happiness in your being you’d probably be pretty dismal. You’d have to have some independent reason as to why you do them. An example: if you volunteered at a nursing home so that you could feel a sense of happiness you’d probably find happiness elusive.

    But if you volunteered there because you want to be concerned about the quality of life of another person – then at least you’d have some independent goal. In losing yourself in that pursuit of doing something for the true concern of another person…. then you might just find something along the lines of happiness in your own life.

    Acceptance has to be something similar. You don’t say, “I’m going to start being a more accepting person” and voila: now you can take all things in stride and are no longer beset by the despair of anxiety/depression.
    Something else has to be your goal – something that moves you beyond (despite how exhausted, fear-tormented you are) the pain of despair that you’re currently feeling. It’s making your life bigger than the dictates of anxiety.

  24. Stephanie 21st November 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Yes, I think it’s easy to view acceptance as another tool or method for anxiety removal. So, for example, someone will say “Ok, today I’m going to go to the grocery store because acceptance says if I do thing it will make my anxiety leave.” So they go to the store but still feel anxious like they normally do and then think “I knew it! There’s something wrong with me! Doing things doesn’t make me feel better at all.” But they’re still missing the point. You don’t go to the grocery store because you want your anxiety to leave – you go to the grocery store because you need groceries. You go whether you feel great or whether you feel horrible. The goal isn’t anxiety-related at all. The goal is you have a life to live with thing that need to be done.

  25. Nolan 21st November 2018 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Exactly, Stephanie.

    Just like if a person was only doing things to be happy. Monitoring every action to see if they find themselves more happy than they were the moment before.
    It’s understandable a person would want to be happy, or to have peace in their life…. but making those the goal would lead to frustration or despair.

  26. Alz 25th November 2018 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    I m hving a lot of intrusive thoughts when I’m with my baby or alone about harm . How should I deal with them . It’s just been about 4 weeks since I had my daughter and almost a week since Iv started meds. Need some words of reassurance to get me thru this time…

  27. Stephanie 25th November 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz,

    You already know that if you were really the kind of person to inflict harm on yourself or others that you would not be fearful of these thoughts. You also know that you can’t force the thoughts away. So what’s left to do? Let the thoughts come and go as they please and live your life normally regardless. Yes, you will probably still be bothered by the thoughts. Let that automatic reaction happen, then go about your day. I know the thoughts are distressing, but I like how Chris in Nothing Works talks about intrusive thoughts: since there is no actual danger, we simply invent new fears and think about them because they frighten us.

  28. Clare 25th November 2018 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Stephanie- This is so me!! I will have new thoughts pop in my head that scare me. It doesn’t ever just stop! Why do you think we invent new fears? This is the most exhausting part.

  29. Stephanie 26th November 2018 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Hi Clare,

    When the flight/fight response is activated in an appropriate setting, the energy is put to necessary use. But when the flight/fight response is activated in an inappropriate setting (i.e. the anxiety disorder), we look for danger and when we can’t find any we invent something (like “I’m losing my mind”) because the energy makes it feel like something must be wrong. The mind will invent all manner of things in its attempt to keep us safe. Then we believe the thoughts and fuel them with our fear – thus, the loop is created. But since we’re not in any actual danger, we have to show our mind that its attempts at keeping us safe our unnecessary. Since we can’t stop the thoughts, we have to demonstrate we’re safe with our actions (living our life normally). I know the process can seem exhausting and obviously much longer than we’d like. Just when you’ve accepted one thought, another pops up. But you have to remember that you’ve been feeding the anxiety for awhile, so it’s not going to just disappear. And eventually, through practice, you’ll stop caring so much whether it’s there or not. You’ll know that regardless of what thoughts go through your mind, you always have the choice to let them be.

  30. Martine 26th November 2018 at 5:51 am - Reply

    hello all

    I have a quick question.

    I have been taking Lexamil 10 mg for 5 weeks and now I have stopped taking them since one week. I am now having withdrawal symptoms like tinnitus, etc.

    Wanted to know if these symptoms will go away.

    If anyone can advise?


  31. Alz 26th November 2018 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Steph my therapist scared me so much when I told her this . She’s like u can’t go to visit ur mother (ina differ t city ) , u can’t shift upstairs ( because of the pregnancy I had to shift downstairs ) and she said I need to up my dose . Anyway it just makes me think how will I get my life back .. during the preg I was completely tense because it was after a still birth and I stopped working etc . I feel like I can never get my old life back .. it’s such an uphill task . I hv to move back upstairs , restart work when possible ( how can I wit dp/dr) , do so much and I don’t know if I can .. this set back has been a year long one

  32. Stephanie 26th November 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply


    If your therapist if making you feel more fearful and less confident, maybe you should consider finding a new one?

    When I first started dealing with anxiety, I was working part time and had a 6 month old. I took medical leave from work and stayed at my parents for three months. My husband and I were having problems too, so on top of that we separated for two months. I remember feeling just like you do – How will I ever get back to normal? Move home, reconcile with my husband, go back to work, take care of my baby alone?? But guess what, it all did happen. Not overnight, of course. But I slowly started taking steps forward instead of avoiding. Yes, it was scary. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I still experienced uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But remember, the more you limit yourself and your life, the more you’ll suffer with anxiety. Start changing all of your what ifs and I can’ts into so whats and I cans! Be patient, do things at a pace you’re comfortable with. Keep reminding yourself that you are ok and you can do hard things.

  33. Stephanie 26th November 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply


    When I first started dealing with anxiety, I was working part time and had a 6 month old. I took medical leave from work and stayed at my parents for three months. My husband and I were having problems too, so on top of that we separated for two months. I remember feeling just like you do – How will I ever get back to normal? Move home, reconcile with my husband, go back to work, take care of my baby alone?? But guess what, it all did happen. Not overnight, of course. But I slowly started taking steps forward instead of avoiding. Yes, it was scary. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I still experienced uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But remember, the more you limit yourself and your life, the more you’ll suffer with anxiety. Start changing all of your what ifs and I can’ts into so whats and I cans! Be patient, do things at a pace you’re comfortable with. Keep reminding yourself that you are ok and you can do hard things.

  34. Louise 27th November 2018 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Hi I’m just wondering if anyone can guide me really. If had severe anxiety for 2 years but think I had it mildly before that anyways I’m doing a lot better now with the help of Paul’s advice and also others on the blog. I am living my life as best as I can doing things regardless of how I feel but I’m just hoping I’m going in the right direction as is it a normal part of the process to one minute feel absent from anxiety like a feeling of peace then the next feeling spaces out? Also my main problem has been intrusive thoughts is it also normal for them to come but kind of like a whisper when recovering . Sorry fornthe long txt thank you in advance.

  35. EJam 27th November 2018 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    I am a long term reader of the blog – and used to contribute years ago. Through Paul’s advice I have learnt to understand what anxiety is and why this is happening. Over the years I have had some good periods and some tough periods but never as tough as the beginning. I have been inspired by the help from Nolan, Candie, Belgium and now Stephanie and so many more who understand how to explain this condition. However, I have never ‘let go’ completely and ‘it’ always finds a new way in. I had physical stuff which I grew out of, thoughts that I learnt a new attitude towards and this year I have an aching body along with very emotional feelings. The aches and pains move around and as with all anxiety symptoms they lift when distracted, however they are very over bearing and obviously although anxiety created they will not go at will. This has been going on for about 6 months, I know I am doing the right things – but also the wrong things by asking for help but feel that possibly a word of advice off someone who has tackled this might give me the reassurance to move on. Just wondered if anyone else has found a way out of the physical symptoms like these, I basically know what I have to do – just would like someone to show me they have come through such symptoms.

  36. Seth 28th November 2018 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Does anyone have any insight on how to make a decision? I’m seeing my ex again but don’t know if I should go back or move on. My intuition tells me its better to move on but i’m scared because i start to feel really lonely and miss her. But I feel I could do better and that we have conflicting values on certain things that cause me hurt. But what if I can’t find someone as amazing or who cares about me as much? It’s so scary. I don’t know what to trust anymore. I try to accept that “maybe i don’t know” but how will that lead me to a decision? Especially if my emotions can change day by day.

  37. Clare 28th November 2018 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    I feel like I’ve been posting on the blog so frequently (for me). Usually I just browse (probably too much) at past posts, many of which are extremely helpful. Acceptance is so hard. It seems like it should be so easy. Oh, just stop worrying about this horrific thought you have- it’s normal. How can that be normal? How can you not analyze the hell out it it. Anyway, here’s where I am and I’m hoping someone can shed some more light on me. At times I feel really low and discouraged I’m never going to see the end of this time in my life.

    I guess it’s just hard not to measure my progress. If I look at the big picture I think I’m substantially better. But if i look at it day by day I’m still having intrusive thoughts in which sometimes I ruminate on, and I still feel like crap and have feelings of suffering. Not every day, but I still have some days for sure. I found that since I’m coming off medication my emotions are not blocked so I feel the good feelings, but then I also feel the bad ones if I have a thought or feel down. I want another one so bad but I’m also afraid I can’t do it mentally either and I just feel like a failure. I want to be past this, like
    Yesterday. And measuring my progress and I keep looking back and I know it’s not helping.

  38. Nolan 30th November 2018 at 3:52 am - Reply

    Hi EJam,

    First off…. asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness nor does it mean that you will definitely exacerbate the issue with anxiety.

    A few years back I had one of my biggest setbacks that shook me to my core. I had been coasting along smoothly (with the manageable downs…. the ones where you can feel the presence of the anxiety but it doesn’t bring you to your knees and convince you that there’s no hope of ever being beyond this) and then one day at work, early in the morning the small little thoughts started trickling through into my mind. I could feel that along with those thoughts there was a strong (and growing stronger) negative stain to them. The stain of the negative thought that bleeds out and touches everything about you (which in turn leads to the despair).

    In my backpack I had all of the “Success!” stories I had captured from various sites over the years. Those stories we hold on to that (in our better moments) could potentially fill us with hope that this nightmare might even end for us. At this point (this early morning at work a few years back) I had not touched those stories for about a year. I felt a sense of pride that I didn’t need them anymore, but there they were still in one of the pockets in my backpack.

    Well that slow trickle of negative thoughts (and feelings and fears) broke the dam and I was again on my knees. Immediately overcome with the paradoxical feeling of being exhausted but too geared up to ever find peace again.

    I was terrified that if I even looked at those stories it would only further cement my fate with anxiety/depression/ and every dreaded symptom. Like an alcoholic on the threshold of a binge I was literally hunched over in my cubicle, frantically shuffling through the pages, as my hands shook (more with the fear that I was doing something dreadfully wrong in even looking at these than the actual anxiety itself).

    But that storm ended too. And like I had heard from others in the past (Paul, Jim Neidert, and others) after that setback (as painful as it was unexpected) I regained alittle bit more of my old self. Even with ‘breaking all of the rules’ of acceptance.

    This isn’t to say ditch every notion of acceptance all together…. but more to say ‘be patient with yourself even in your weakness’.

    You can be patient with yourself even as you’re doing what you feel to be wrong but in a moment of desperation. And still some positive growth can come from even that.

    So, you’re in a bad spell right now. It seems long and unwarranted. You wish things were another way…. but they’re not. Be at peace with that and be at peace with the fact that you struggle with that. What does that mean? Live your life as you lived it but with this extra little burden. You want to know when it will be lifted, but you can’t know that. None of us can. Be patient with the times you fall into the pit of reassurance…. but don’t make that your warm cabin atop a windswept mountain.

    Set no guidelines and timetables as to when this storm needs to pass. It will and you will look back on this moment with a feeling of fondness (again, a paradox I’ve encountered many times with myself and in talking with others). Make your goal as simple as living a life with this.

  39. Nolan 30th November 2018 at 4:14 am - Reply

    Hi Clare,

    I understand the urge to measure and track your progress.

    When I started to make decisions to change my relationship with anxiety/depression I began to think “what do people without anxiety do?”.

    Sounds obvious enough but I also had insomnia with my anxiety (it was my worst symptom). I was on discussion boards for insomnia too.

    So many people were doing these sleep hygiene behaviors (dim lights at a certain hour, avoid foods at certain cut off points, read only boring material, no news, cool down your bedroom…. on and on) but then someone on the board said something incredibly insightful. He asked (paraphrased) “why are we doing all of these behaviors that keep insomnia so deeply ingrained in our minds?”. You only do sleep hygiene and sleep restriction if you care a lot about your lack of sleep.

    But look at young kids. They have HORRIBLE ‘sleep hygiene’ behaviors and they sleep like angels. They’re up late, running around, fighting the urge to fall asleep and yet they drift off into peaceful slumber.

    But imagine those same kids if someone came to them and started frantically telling them how important it is to get “NOTHING LESS THAN 8 HOURS OR YOU”LL GO MAD!!!!” and provided them with a bunch of sheets to start tracking their sleep habits…. not all but definitely some would find that once easily obtained sleep to become a bit more elusive.

    Or think of someone who says that they’re life goal is to be happy and that they’re going to start tracking each day to see if they’re more happy than they were the day/week before. If they were to tell you this you’d probably think it was bad advice in wanting to be more happy. You’d probably say “you can’t track your progress into happiness. Happiness is side effect of other things in your life that move you forward.”

    LIke with living a life without anxiety. It’s not accomplished by keeping a steady eye on anxiety to make sure that it’s slowly moving closer and closer to the horizon. It’s accomplished by living a life with it and adopting an attitude of “okay, so my life is a bit encumbered by this thing…. but that’s fine. It can stay as long as it likes”.

  40. Clare 30th November 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply


    It seems so simple. I loved that analogy. The therapist I’m currently seeing basically told me she can’t help me if I don’t take medications. That she doesn’t understand why I want to suffer like this. I don’t want to suffer! But I feel so conflicted with the acceptance approach and treating the symptoms. Literally the only symptom that engulfs my mind and brings me to my knees is the obsessing and then the bad emotions it brings later. It makes me feel like I am doomed and will never get better If I don’t take medication. The success stories of people that don’t take meds are in the back of my head but there are also success stories of post partum mothers who also have what I’m going through and seems the only way they made it through was being on meds. I’ve been slowly weaning and I don’t feel suffering everyday, but I do have intrusive thoughts and obsessing, and tracking daily which does bring me down. I just don’t know what’s “normal” on the “suffering” spectrum and what’s not. I am stubborn and wondering if I’m doing this to myself when I should just be on medication to treat this particular symptom. Paul talks about acceptance but I think when you’re a mother it’s whole new hosts of feelings and emotions that are involved. Anyway, rambling now. This whole thing is the most confusing thing ever.


  41. Ruby 30th November 2018 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Dear Nolan,

    I would be very thankful if u could help me with my symptoms:

    Almost every day my mind is racing and I feel kind of dizzy like foggy. When I’m walking I have a feeling of unsureness in my legs , like Im going to faint / fall.
    So my brain is constantly on high alert (it feels like this) and I cannot stop thinking about this feelings of ‘uncertainty’ – a feeling like something bad is about to happen! It keeps me really away of normal living.. I really try to accept and not overthink about this but at the end I find myself doing so.. And this feelings of dread and dizzyness/ foggy feeling in my head – or this lightness in my legs – somehow convince my brain that there is something wrong with me , and really I feel all the time this ‘feeling that there is something bad about to happen with me’..

    I also have no interest in events that normally would bring me joy and fun.
    I am also often so tired and feel this fatique in my body – a feeling that I just want to sleep and nothing else..thoughts that I might be depressed and that there is something wrong with my psyche..

    I would be glad if you could give me some advise with this.

    Thank you & Best regards.

  42. Ruby 30th November 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Dear Nolan,

    I would be very thankful if u could help me with my anxiety – symptoms.

    Almost every day my mind is racing and I feel kind of dizzy like foggy. When I’m walking I have a feeling of unsureness in my legs , like Im going to faint / fall.
    So my brain is constantly on high alert (it feels like this) and I cannot stop thinking about this feelings of ‘uncertainty’ – a feeling like something bad is about to happen! It keeps me really away of normal living.. I really try to accept and not overthink about this but at the end I find myself doing so.. And this feelings of dread and dizzyness/ foggy feeling in my head – or this lightness in my legs – somehow convince my brain that there is something wrong with me , and really I feel all the time this ‘feeling that there is something bad about to happen with me’..

    I also that i have no interest in events that normally would bring me joy and fun.

    I am also often so tired and feel this fatique in my body – a feeling that I just want to sleep and nothing else..thoughts that I might be depressed and that there is something wrong with my psyche..

    I would be glad if you could give me some advise with this.

    Thank you & Best regards.

  43. EJam 30th November 2018 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    testing a post as lost 3

  44. EJam 30th November 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you Nolan for your reply. Your reply is very honest and through you recalling and describing how you felt so clearly it helps to know that my level of fear is not a sign that I have ‘failed’. I can very much relate to the ‘coasting’ with a level of manageable anxiety for periods of time and then dips where I have managed fresh fears and symptoms. I have spent long periods of time way from the blog and although I was still aware of my anxiety there have been periods of time when it has not been such a heavy concern. However, there has always been that last corner to turn. This last few months have been different , I have had a set back with physical symptoms which are demanding my attention ( as anxious symptoms will) – during this year I have had so many new revelations and aha moments of understanding, almost without trying because I have re read things and they have connected up to an understanding and the realisation of how it can evolve into a habit of trying to fix yourself. Frustratingly I now find it difficult to understand why I cannot find my way out of this habit as others have. This all sounds very rational when writing it down but as everyone knows feeling this way is far from rational and can be overwhelming. I appreciate you telling me that you experienced what you did and you still went on to recover. Thank you Nolan.
    I am not sure if this will help you but I found that with thoughts it is best that if you can identify them as ‘fear’ based that you then cut off the inner dialogue with them. In the beginning this seems difficult( I am not under estimating how bad they make you feel) but as time goes by you find the brain accepts the ‘stop’. You probably already know this but the thought itself is not the problem, it’s the going back and trying to clarify it that turns it into a fight with your own thought. The more you try and find a solution to keep it quiet the louder it shouts. I have been there. It’s the fight that creates the problem not the thought. Hope that helps a little.

  45. Stephanie 30th November 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Clare,

    My anxiety journey started as postpartum anxiety after my first baby four years ago. I just had my second in June and am going through the same thing again. I personally believe hormones play a crucial role, and if you feel you need medication to help you, then there’s no shame in that. But I also personally believe acceptance still works. Why? because no matter how your suffering started, fighting the feelings and thoughts is only always going to lead to more suffering. I understand the need to obsess and track your progress. I understand the intense desire to feel normal again. But the more we try to control how we’re feeling, again, the more we’ll suffer. Instead, we have to practice living our life in spite of our feelings or thoughts. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know there’s the urge to continue looking for some solution or way out. But the more we try to grasp at some measure of peace, the more crushing the despair feels. It truly is a great paradox. So keep moving forward, even if everything feels pointless, even if there’s little joy in it, even if it hurts. Stop trying to figure it out all or even figure yourself out. Accept that you currently are having a hard time, accept even you might even feel this way forever (difficult I know), but at the same time maintain that determination that your life can still be bigger than it all.

  46. Stephanie 30th November 2018 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Clare, one more thing. When you start living alongside your anxiety without trying to change it, it can feel worse at first. Why? because you’re no longer avoiding, it might scream at you all the more (your body’s way of trying to keep you safe). Don’t get discouraged. Let it do whatever it wants for as long as it wants, no harm will come to you. The way forward is through it!

  47. Alz 1st December 2018 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Steph the intrusive thoughts abt harming my baby just wont go esp when I’m alone : I’m scared what if I get so caught up in this web of thoughts that I do soemthig to her 🙁 its the only thoght the comes
    To my mind when I’m alone wiht her. Would appreciate anyone else’s input too ..

  48. Mar 1st December 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Hey everyone, I’m feeling quite low at the minute. My problem is I’m dealing with mental burnout. I was recovering well enough, but I had a thought that the stress response will stop the progress of healing the brain fog. Now every time I have the thought it triggers the stress response, which is all day. What should I do? My brain cannot heal if I’m in the stress response. I’m feeling a degree of hopelessness now. How do I change my relationship to this thought?

  49. Mar 1st December 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Hey everyone, I’m feeling quite low at the minute. My problem is I’m dealing with mental burnout. I was recovering well enough, but I had a thought that the stress response will stop the progress of healing the brain fog. Now every time I have the thought it triggers the stress response, which is all day. What should I do? My brain cannot heal if I’m in the stress response. I’m feeling a degree of hopelessness now. How do I change my relationship to this thought? I know the advice is to get on with your life, but I can’t work due the mental burnout, hence I’m resting a lot or going for walks. Please help.

  50. trez 1st December 2018 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz a big congratulations on the birth of your baby,don’t be stressing to much about the thought of harming your baby it’s only a thought…

    We seem to believe every thought when we’re so anxious,just let it pass it will soon face when you pay it no attention hope this helps…

    I myself know now why I feel the way i do every few months,it is mental exhaustion which is causing me all types of symptoms its not very nice but I just get on with things as normal as possible and it could last any were from a wk to a few months ….

    Has any one else ever experienced this

    Trez x

  51. Alz 1st December 2018 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks trez
    Anxiety is all abt the mind being tired. When we keep on going on we start getting exhausted and then Ul face all sorts of symptoms which quill try to mk u stop going at the pace ur going. It’s ur minds way of saying it needs rest . But I Guess one can trick the mind And if u don’t get overwhelmed or fearful of the symptoms , soon the exhaustion will also end .
    Trez did u go through the thoughts I’m going thru ? It’s when the thoght s hv a lot of power that I get scared . Reasoning with them seems tough then .

  52. Alz 1st December 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Quill = will

  53. Suzi 1st December 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Alz, I have a suggestion. It’s not the actual thought that is scaring you because you already know that it is only because you have anxious energy in your body that that thought is in your head. If you had no anxious energy in your body then that thought wouldn’t even be there. Instead, its the fact that the thought keeps popping into your head and you feel like you have no control over that, I feel like that is the bit that is freaking you out – The fact that it keeps intruding. With that intrusion you feel weirded out because the thought has negative connotations but because the thought feels powerful it evokes a fearful reaction in you. I feel, that if you were to lose the fear response when the thought appears then you would be able to just see it as an anxious thought.

    So, I have a suggestion. What I am about to suggest sounds like a ‘technique’ but really it is grounded in ‘acceptance’ and walking towards your fear and getting out of its way. When you next have that thought and you feel the fear response, I want you to become curious about it. ‘Where in my body am I feeling that fear?’ Close your eyes, maybe put your hand on your heart for emotional support and notice where in your body that fear flash exists. Once you’ve noticed how your body feels that feeling, go looking for it. Next time the thought pops in, snatch in that instance where you felt the reaction. Once you’ve found it again get to know it. Does it feel sharp, does it feel heavy, does it have a colour, does it vibrate, is it a flash etc? Then breath into that feeling, deeply. You may say to yourself, it’s ok to feel this, I’m open to this, and keep breathing into it and really experience it. Look at it, be curious, breath into it, don’t try and change it just recognise it, most importantly….let it be there. You will find that your relationship to that thought will change because your relationship with its reaction has changed. You will be using a different part of your brain to experience it. You are getting out of the way and letting that anxious energy pass on through.

    Notice it, observe it, let it be there, notice how it changes, it moves around and fluctuates and guess what, that is what acceptance is. You are no longer resisting it therefore you will suffer less.

    Hope this helps, sunshine.
    Suzi x

  54. Mark M 1st December 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Hey everyone, I’m feeling quite low at the minute. My problem is I’m dealing with mental burnout. I was recovering well enough, but I had a thought that the stress response will stop the progress of healing the brain fog. Now every time I have the thought it triggers the stress response, which is all day. What should I do? My brain cannot heal if I’m in the stress response. I’m feeling a degree of hopelessness now. How do I change my relationship to this thought? I know the advice is to get on with your life, but I can’t work due the mental burnout, hence I’m resting a lot or going for walks. Please help.

  55. debbie 1st December 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    hi alz iam so happy about your baby you will befine its only athought and you will never harm your baby itsjust anxiety. iam suffering myself my mom just died 3 days ago unexpectedly she was everything to me mybestfriend iamlost and so heart broken

  56. Alz 2nd December 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Thanks Debbie!!!!!!
    Aww I’m so sorry to hear abt your mother. I hope god gives you the patience and courage to deal with this loss .
    Ur right it’s just a thought but I’m just so exhausted – it was living in fear fr 9 months ( during my preg ) and now I just want my life back !

  57. Stephanie 2nd December 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    All that’s happening is you’ve found a new thought to be scared of. I know it seems like something needs to be done, you need to fix it, but that’s just the usual anxiety trick. This is no different than any other distressing thought I’m sure you’ve had. What did you do about those? Inevitably, you did nothing. It only feels like you can’t work and you’re tired because you’re spending so much mental energy ruminating over this thought, questioning, searching, etc. So be it. Let the thought be there as long as it wants, let yourself be scared if that’s what’s happening, and then continue on.

  58. Stephanie 2nd December 2018 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    All that’s happened is you’ve found a new thought to be scared of. I know it seems life-shattering, like the progress you’ve made is now stained by the intensity of this thought – but that’s just the usual anxiety trick. It feels like you can’t work and you’re tired because you’re spending so much mental energy ruminating on this thought, questioning, searching, trying to find a way out. So be it. Let the thought be there as long as it wants, let yourself be scared of if, then continue on.

  59. Anna 2nd December 2018 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    I’m unsure why my comments are not being posted. I really wanted to ask if there’s someone suffering from insomnia and getting panic attacts or anxiety over it. I fall asleep and wake up 1 hour or 2 later to go into a huge anxiety attack. Fear, o start shacking , trembling and feel very uneasy. I’m currently going through a setback. I thought I’d shake it off quickly since I had suffered this 6 years ago. I haven’t been able to sleep in the past 5 days and I’m mentally drained from all the overthinking. I haven’t gone to a doctor because 6 years ago i was prescribed antidepressants that made me feel worse. Im unsure why I’m feeling like this all over again, I recently broke up with my boyfriend due to me feeling this way. He’s not supportive and tells me I can control it and it’s all in my head. I feel very down and anxious can’t seem to concentrate not sure if it’s the lack of sleep. I also have bothersome thoughts but they seem to bescarier at night then during the day. I’m afraid of not being able to function at work because I’m a single mother of 2 kids. Anyone currently going through this or have advice for me please Help I’m in Desperate need of advice.

    • Nolan 20th December 2018 at 2:35 am - Reply

      Hi Anna,

      Sleep issues were my biggest issue. I had others, but none shook my quite like the issue with not being able to sleep and constantly thinking about sleep (or the inability to sleep).

      First off: Be fine with whatever sleep you get when you finally start your morning. This isn’t fun…. but it’s an end to the self-pity. I don’t say that to you because I think you’re engaging in self-pity…. but I know that I was and that it wasn’t helping. So, if your day starts at 7am and you only got 1 hour of sleep (or even nothing) tell yourself “So be it” and start your day. You’re going to feel yucky, but start changing the narrative that runs in your mind due to it. And you can start doing that by changing the things you tell yourself about it… and the good news is that you don’t even have to tell yourself much. Short and sweet “so be it” and move forward with your day.

      Second: When your going to sleep and if your mind is racing: let it race. If your mind is already agitated with anxiety and your thoughts are naturally trending towards things of despair/fear/hopelessness…. it does little good to force your thoughts on bright and sunny things. As if forcing “bright and sunny thoughts” is what’s going to bait sleep into overcoming you. For one: it’s just adding to the agitation. You’re just adding more mental exertion. So let your thoughts run on and on or spin however they want to. When a particular thought was having a visceral effect of me I just let it do what it wanted to while telling myself something like “big deal… it will pass when it’s ready to”. One way to conceive of this is that you’re going to be as disinterested as possible in what you’re seeing while your mind is racing. Like a disinterested movie watcher. But be patient with yourself when you find yourself playing along with the fear.

      Third: My evenings became this unnatural approach to bed time – eat this, don’t eat that. Dim the lights at this hour, no TV/computer after that hour, cool the bedroom to this temperature, turn the clocks away from my view…. on and on. Children have TERRIBLE sleep hygiene and guess what? Children sleep incredibly. Because they don’t care so much about sleep. For a person who has anxiety induced insomnia and then the added torment of anxiety of insomnia… structuring your evenings around sleep is not helpful. You want sleep to become less important in your mind so that it become a more natural reaction again. And you don’t turn down that intense concern for it by rolling a red carpet out every evening in hopes that it graces you with its presence.

  60. trez 3rd December 2018 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Hi Mark

    Stephanie is so right,I’m the same as you at the moment,it’s mental exhaustion for me,it’s because we are are afraid of the thought and trying to find answers which only feed it more ,seems to happen to me every few,it’s definatley alot to do with stress..

    I know it’s feels awful but try jist let it happen it will pass and you will come through it it’s just a blip..

    Hope this helps

  61. Alz 5th December 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    So guys wish me luck ..
    with all the obsessive thoughts , anxiety and a new born baby , I want my life back and so I’m going to shift back to my portion of the house ( upstairs) this weekend . Throughout my preg because it was precious , I had to shift on the ground floor and then after the preg as I had a c section , I didn’t move upstairs .. and then the fears set in . Feelings of ‘ moving upstairs will be so difficult , the portion is unclean , i hv so much to do etc et . But I’m bugging myself till this weekend and I’ll slowly and gradually make the move .i honestly want to get better and get my life moving in the ‘ normal ‘ direction that it was !

  62. Alz 5th December 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Bugging – giving

  63. EJam 5th December 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Alz – you are doing the right thing, try not to make it into ‘an event’, just do it. Accept that you will feel nervous to start with. It is your thoughts about ‘upstairs’ not upstairs itself – and we all know what thoughts are. Small steps repeatedly in the right direction will make big differences in the long run. Its not easy, as anyone on here knows but as lots prove, it is possible. Good luck, I am sure it will go well with your new attitude.

  64. Alz 5th December 2018 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Ejam thanks a lot . So I did move up but since Iv been so tired and prob passing thru ppd ( get intrusive thoughts about my daughter etc) and am getting little sleep , my husband and I had such a big fight . He said I’m being v u grateful because I wanted a child for the longest time and now I’m just taking care of her like she’s a burden . He doesn’t understand that it’s hard with anxietg and tht no magical switch will make it go away suddenly . I had it so bad during my preg ( bed rest, no work , moving downstairs , precious baby after still birth ) that I’m
    Bound to hv the anxiety linger and take the form of other fears . I need a break honestly and so if I get out fr yoga or to the parlor I feel I deserve tht at this point . Also , rearing a new born is tough . I hv my in laws to help but it’s not all the time and it’s the sheer tiredness , intrusive thoughts and feelings of inadequacy which are perhaps not helping me bond with my child properly . It is a big responsibility and at this point I feel like it’s a burden . I hope these feelings subside with time as I start to feel better ( hv gotten back on meds ) Anyway , on the brighter side I did shift upstairs and yes my mind is playing a lot of tricks but it’s fr the best . Ejam I know it’s all thoughts but sometimes they just tk the best of you . I want to reach that point where I can see them fr what they are – mere thoughts , thoughts that should not dictate my life . I hope tht can happen one day !

  65. EJam 6th December 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Alz – Everyone on here knows how hard it is. Regardless of how/why we tripped into this zone we all understand how you feel. I also think that sometimes anxiety can latch onto the fact that ‘you now have what you wanted’ so ‘why’ can I not feel happy. As Nolan told me, it’s a paradox. So you have your beautiful baby and now anxiety is spoiling it -because it is the most important thing in your life – if it was not important you would not be upset by it. The best advice you will take from here is that – thoughts are not real, and there will come a day when whatever is scaring you now, will not. I can assure you of that as it never stays the same. Thoughts are not dictating your life – you think they are (and that’s different) . Try and take your life in bite size chunks – a day at a time. You can overwhelm yourself by looking further ahead, believe me life has a way of sorting itself out. Today you moved back upstairs, congratulate yourself for that. Looking after babies is a very tiring affair, even without anxiety, but you can do it. You will surprise yourself of how you will glimpse moments of peace – and those little windows let the light in for more. We tend to catastrophise when anxiety is high, but as we calm although it still maybe difficult it’s do able. Don’t try to hard, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough for now – and each day things will seem less over whelming. You are not a burden, you are probably trying too hard as many people with anxiety do. This will move for you, just let time pass a bit more.

  66. Alz 7th December 2018 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Ejam you make so much sense . It’s just that I start comparing my life to what itwas and what it is now and how it’s an uphill task – I mean yes I’m lookign into the future and fortune telling but I mean I want to start working etc and with such strong feelings of dp , questioning reality , ocd and whatevr other symptoms these thoughts have given way to , I feel like I won’t ever be fine . Ur right though abt taking it one day at a time but I do get bogged down . I mean it’s not fun being at a zone where you feel like ur mind is unsettled and will never get bakc to being liek it was . It’s like I have two selves and the self eight he ocd / dp/ anxiety has just managed to dominate my existence . I appreciate what ur saying and yes Iv been down this path before but nevr this bad . I guess it’s a habit and I have to normalise my life for myself to feel normal . For 9 months it’s been dictated by fear , anxiety so I guess ur right I shoudl give it time and take it day by day .

  67. trez 7th December 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz

    You will get on top of this its all just prolonged stress,because we feed it so must and tell ourselves that were never gona get better keeps us in the loop.
    As like you I’m struggling with questioning reality,it’s one of the worse symptoms of anxiety that I have ever had I don’t like it and question it inside out but it’s not helping matters its actually making it worse that if brings on panic,but we will get there xx

  68. Alz 8th December 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Trez ,
    Do u feel weird while talking ?? Anyway yes we can get thru this . However it’s such a bad anxiety symptom – it’s dp or dr ? I guess atleast giving it a name can give me more peace and not the notion of ‘losing ‘ it

  69. Alz 8th December 2018 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Also trez don’t u think it’s a chemical imbalance which needs meds for it to become better ?

  70. trez 8th December 2018 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Alz it’s our mind playing tricks on us,I have been through every symptom of anxiety bit this is this worst…

    I do think it’s some kind of imbalance as it would come last a few wks and pass for a few months then come back…

    Each time it comes back it feels stronger to me and I think it’s because I fear it so much..

    Alz give yourself alot of credit you have just had a baby and your are expected to be all over the place due to hormones,you will start to feel some days are better than others….

    Hope this helps x

  71. EJam 8th December 2018 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Alz/ Trez Re the DP – I do not have it, and have not had it for years. I am not frightened of it either. I think we all have things that sometimes hold us more than others. I am in a setback at the moment but with other symptoms, and as they are anxiety driven they are what grab my attention. Although I am finding the less I bother with them the less they bother me.
    I remember having DP for a long period of time and suddenly, through no effort or will of my own a thought flashed, it was not a conscious thought – it is hard to describe but it was as if suddenly I felt that I did not have any resistance to the DP, I almost liked it (I know that sounds really strange) I can remember everything lifting, and yet it was a ‘non event’ . All I can say is that these feelings go. It does take courage, and I am not always the best at that but the more you just get on with life, as tough as it is the less attention is given to the latest ‘symptom’ . We so want to get rid of these feelings that they take front of stage and we end up getting roped into the whole fight again. Make plans , take steps forward and slowly – have faith, this will shift .

  72. Alz 9th December 2018 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Ejam ,
    You make a lot of sense . Just a question though :are u ok meds ? It’s week 3 of me hving started meds and I’m hoping the full effect will kick in soon although it’s wrong of me to just be relying on meds . Anyway I guess it is what it is . I hv to let go which I think you did when you had dp and it seems like it worked . I know it’s the endless catastrophising that come with each thought and anxiety does that . So my main fear has been that of losing my mind and anxiety though trying to protect me , has made me so aware of ev thing I say or do : is this ok ? Is this not ok? Did this happen ? Did this not happen? So essentially while it’s tryinv to protect me from my biggest fear , it’s sonehow being counterproductive . I hope that makes sense . And in the process of making me question ev move , ev action etc it’s made me mentally exhausted ..,
    The question is then , when will my mind reach its natural state after hving been badgered so long by anxiety . When will it reach its equilibrium ?

  73. EJam 9th December 2018 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Alz – you cannot control it. If you look at Nolan’s reply to me you will see that whatever the symptom, the answer is the same – you give up fighting, worrying or trying to control when ‘it’ will leave. I really understand the frustration, we all do, but the more you chase feeling ‘ok’ the further it runs. You have to let it come to you, have a look at Nolan’s reply to me, November 30th. Give yourself a break for now if you can and try and just do what you have to do. Time will pass, everything changes. Take care.

  74. Alz 10th December 2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Ejam does that mean I accept the feelings of going mad, unreality and everything whilst trying to live a normal life? I mean for Eg I’m talking and I’m feeling odd – just now I asked someone to get me socks. She got me 3 and I was questioning later on in my head: are they 3? It’s like this and I think it’s just a habit /obsession of questioning reality. I know I need to accept it and move on and let time pass. Iv been told time and again that it’s an anxiety disorder by my therapist but I come back n then compare my life to what it was like …also I compare myself with others

  75. Stephanie 15th December 2018 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Hi Ruby,

    You have to live your life and carry all the uncomfortable symptoms with you. You can’t rationalize the symptoms away. Why? Well even though nothing has ever happened to you in the past, despite how horrible or weird you felt, there’s always that part of you that says “Yeah but what if THIS time something does happen?!” So all you can do is live your life, regardless of how you feel. Let yourself be scared, let the what if thoughts come – then say “oh well, so what, I have things to do.” I know it sounds easy in theory but difficult to actually do. Practice makes perfect.

  76. star 16th December 2018 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I have been away a while. I find there are therapy techniques I hold onto and try to use but none of them make me feel better in the long run and I am growing hopeless. I have been going through this 7.5 years now, searching and searching for the answer. And although about 3 years ago I started finding this approach and it is the only thing that ever worked and helped me, I can tell you approximately 10 times over the past 3 years I have been able to let go and the feelings felt strong and it was awful and then it passed. And then I wanted to do that again, but I just started approaching acceptance/letting go/ surrender as something I need to master and this became another thing I need to do. And even now that I know this, I still struggle to just let go. I have been in therapy 2.5 years and I just feel it is draining my money and making me feel worse that it isn’t working. I just don’t know how to let go it seems. But I know that I obviously do because I have done it before. Someone please help.

  77. Isaac 17th December 2018 at 9:01 am - Reply

    I would like to recommend everyone whose struggling with intrusive thoughts to download the app “Headspace” and to start doing meditation. It’s a great tool to practice letting go of stressful thoughts.
    Also there is a book called “overcoming unwanted intrusive thoughts “ you can buy it on amazon. It’s a book dedicated to this subject completely with amazing information and it helped me tremendously.
    Pls read this book it’s exactly what you guys need.
    Hope this helps .

  78. Hannah 18th December 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I’m not completely new to this blog but haven’t posted much for a long while. I’ve had a huge setback and my anxiety is once again in full force. It’s taken me a little while to remember how to approach things as I was well for so long.

    I have had an extremely stressful year with the loss of a family member, my grandma suffering with advanced cancer and is bed bound, my best friend contracting a serious illness and being in a coma (she is still in hospital but is now in recovery learning to walk etc) and my parents separating. On top of this as a nurse in the nhs my job means I am under extreme pressure at work and to be honest having written it all down I’m not sure how I’ve managed to keep going through it all. My question is how do I overcome anxiety when all these stressors persist? Other than cutting my hours at work which i can’t afford to do, I dont know how I can stop these situations from being stressful in order to let my stress levels reduce. I have started to take time for myself to just relax and spend time with friends etc Hoping 2019 will be a much better year!

  79. Delwyn Palmer 18th December 2018 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Paul
    I have recently read both of your books and am trying follow your advice as best I can.
    I have had anxiety in the form of physical symptoms since 2009, and have been up and down throughout that time.
    I was interested to read in your book that you don’t isolate the symptoms and treat them all separately, but just accept that they are all just anxiety and try to live a normal life alongside all of the horrible sensations. Most of the symptoms are not there currently.
    However,I have one symptom that I am having great difficulty accepting and living beside.
    I have an aggravating cough that seems to be caused by anxiety and stress and has now become the source of anxiety for me. It has become a vicious circle. The cough causes anxiety and the anxious feelings about the cough cause me to cough.
    I have had medical investigations into the cough, but it does not have any apparent physical cause.
    Over the years I have blamed it onto so many outside factors. I have had to avoid lots of places and foods, that I thought were causing it.These also included,confined spaces, smells, air conditioning, weather conditions, electromagnetic energy, dust and smoke. I worry excessively what other people think when I cough, and that makes me cough too. I go into a coughing spasm, similar to a panic attack.
    I am not avoiding now. I go everywhere and do everything that I used to do before I had anxiety, as you have suggested.
    I do have difficulty though.
    In your experience of anxiety, is this symptom something that you have come across before?
    It would appear to be very unusual.
    Do you have any suggestions for me?

  80. Nolan 20th December 2018 at 2:18 am - Reply

    For me the best thing in ‘dealing’ with intrusive thoughts was to let them ramble on and not making them a big issue. Sure, it wasn’t ideal. I would much rather have had control of my own thoughts at those moments…. but I simply didn’t.

    I was simply tired of having to have ‘things to do’ in order to address the various issues I had: insomnia, intrusive thoughts, depression….
    I was done with having to ‘make space’ for them. Now I was just going to let them do what they want to do, for as long as they wanted to do it while I went back on with my life.

    If someone wants to do various things about the issue… it’s completely understandable.

    But I want them to also know that you can overcome them without having to buy more things, to do add more things to your life in order to have them end.

    • Isaac 20th December 2018 at 6:22 am - Reply

      Of course your right and that’s the way to do it.
      But this is a stage you get to after first stop understanding intrusive thoughts and I recommended the book for the information in it alone. Knowledge is power

  81. Sam 20th December 2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Hi everyone.. please read and give advice if possible.
    I have suffered for tear with anxiety which I have been managing but have had a tough year which has caused a massive flare up and symptoms etc my main worry is the intrusive thoughts ones that are horrible and make we worry even more as if I’m losing my mind and awaiting something bad to happen sometime the thoughts are just a word like ‘suicide’ not that I feel that why but just the word puts me on edge!! Is this normal!??? I feel like should I seek perfessional help or is this part of it?? PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE EVER FELT TRHE SAME. It’s making me scared .. then I keep saying to myself it’s just a word!!!!!
    Thanks guys and advice would be appreciated

  82. Star 21st December 2018 at 1:41 am - Reply

    How does therapy fit into recovery?
    I’m starting CBT and I’m not sure how to approach it.
    Generally struggled with therapy in the past.

    • Nolan 28th December 2018 at 2:48 am - Reply

      Hi Star,

      I’m not claiming every success story is like mine…. but I had very bad luck with therapy.
      The psychologists and psychiatrists I had seen (and I saw more than a few) weren’t very helpful.
      The last psychiatrist I had seen had me on (in roughly a 2 month stretch of time): Xanax, ambien, ambien CR, Lunesta, trazadone, klonopin, Lexapro, …. I was only getting worse. The last prescription she gave me was for Rozerom (for my insomnia). I went home first before filling the scrip read that the reviews for it were even worse than Lunesta and ambien (both of which did absolutely nothing for me). I crumpled up the prescription and said that I would rather be no more than have to take any more pills.

      I had dabbled alittle with CBT but it wasn’t helping me. I wanted to be the old me; and at least with the CBT I was going over it seemed to only have me pay more respect to the symptoms of my anxiety and depression. I got that idea from Paul and it just made perfect sense when I read it: that in my attempts to be the old me I was paying so much respect to these issues, opposed to not caring so much.

      One time I read on another forum for anxiety induced insomnia a poster named “TomNTexas” who said something like “why do we take the advice of those who struggle with anxiety and insomnia? Why do we live our lives in a way that makes good sleep so important to us? Children have terrible sleep hygiene and they sleep like angels. They eat ice cream late into the evening while watching a scary movie and fall asleep like it was nothing. But we go through these convoluted steps in hopes of assuring us something like 5 solid hours of sleep? It doesn’t make sense. Approach it like the child does, which means make obtaining sleep LESS important.”

      Which is exactly what Paul says: make the issues less important by not doing so many things dedicated to their removal. And, in time your body/brain/mind will drift away from it being an issue.

      • Star 21st January 2019 at 12:44 am - Reply

        Nolan, thank you for your reply, I only noticed you answered a while after.

        If I am honest, CBT has not resonated with me and it does make me feel worse about my symptoms as I feel worse about the fact that it should be helping me but it’s not and that I am disappointing the therapist, feeling like I need to be fixed etc. But because I finally managed to get it on the NHS, I have been going and it makes me feel like I’m talking to someone at least, but then again it can make me feel more alone.

        The thing is, I feel in my situation, I know the information and I believe I have an understanding of it; the allowing and acceptance which allows all the negative energy to basically detox, I have experienced this in the past too which has cemented this for me, however, I find that when it comes to implement it, there is so much negative self-talk and fear that I cannot go in a situation with my defences down. Hence I keep adding anxiety etc, and I suffer so much and constantly.

        I wanted to ask you Nolan, as you’ve recovered so you can see things clearly, I listened to a guy on Youtube and he spoke about how the not doing something to fix how you feel will make you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable but it is the only way forward. I struggled to implement it so I decided to speak to myself, and I said ‘You can get through this’ and ‘You’re going to be ok’, when I was in situations that i felt uncomfortable in, and I realise now, it was not to make myself feel not anxious but to remind myself I am more ok than I think, and fill my mind with something other than all the negative self talk. As I would say that I’d realise that I am going to make it through and that I am ok, and that my mind is creating a lot of BS. In a large social situation, I felt anxious sitting alone and afraid of what people would think if my husband got up for a bit. But by saying this to myself, I felt really ok with the situation and even was able to enjoy it a little and feel ok something I haven’t done in so long.
        I guess I want to know if I am on the right track.

        I’m sorry if this is long, I really appreciate your support.

  83. Star 21st December 2018 at 1:47 am - Reply

    Sam I’m a fellow struggler so I don’t know if I’m much help but from what I am understanding more recently.

    You are already stressed/sensitised/on edge/anxiety ridden.

    Worrying about why you are getting this thought over and over is only going to make you more anxious. So what you need to do is stop adding more anxiety.
    It is totally normal to have extreme reactions to thoughts which usually tend to be negative. Again it’s the nerve thing which is why people around you probably seem unperterbed (if I spelled that right) and relaxed.

  84. Louise 21st December 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Hi I could really do with some advice I have had intrusive thoughts about various different things over the last 18 months which iv let be and they have passed but I can’t seem to shift the thoughts of self harm/suicide. They will go away for weeks and then wham hit me with such force I start engaging with them questioning myself. What if I get so bad I do these things. Do i want to is that y I’m having them. Even some are just one worded or I could be thinking of something else and these thoughts will be like a whisper in the back ground has anyone had thoughts like this and dealt with them. Is because I’m afraid that they return any advice plz I’m desperate. Thank u in advance

    • Isaac 23rd December 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      Accepting and letting go of intrusive thoughts is hard at the beginning.
      I would really recommend reading the book “ overcoming unwanted intrusive thoughts “
      The information there is very helpful.

  85. Natalie Smith 25th December 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Has anyone noticed that their anxiety is worse in the morning
    I Wake up I just feel very emotional
    I was going well for a few months but seems I’m in a setback for the last few weeks so all my symptoms are coming back
    Has anyone had a bout of anxiety before?

  86. Mark M 27th December 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Guys I find that that despite my more outward focus, i am anticipating certain thpughts coming. I can’t seem to stop anticipating. What am i doing wrong? Any help or advice greatly appreciated.

    • Nolan 28th December 2018 at 3:00 am - Reply

      Hi Mark,

      This is like a guy lost in a forest who has good reason to believe that he has found the right track to get out. He forges his way forward while still in the thick of the woods. If he were to stop and say “well this isn’t right…. I thought I found the right track but I still see trees around me.” we’d both be able to appreciate that he’s missing some of the point. Because though he very well may be headed in the right direction, the simple fact that he still is seeing trees around him doesn’t mean that he’s doing something wrong.

      Say you have intrusive thoughts and you’ve decided to start paying them less respect…. and to implement this you are going to do less internet searching, less talking about it to people, less canceling plans you had set, and you’re going to start doing more of the things that used to define your life. If at some point in the future you were to notice you still have some issues bubbling up that wouldn’t negate that you are still ultimately doing the right thing and heading in the right direction.

      Insomnia was the issue that terrified me the most (though I had others) – There was the point in which I told myself that I”m going to live my life regardless of how exhausted or full of despair I was…. that didn’t mean I was immediately done with sleep issues. Those lasted a very long time afterwards. But my life became liveable again. If I were to only focus on the hiccups that occurred during that time I certainly would have made little progress and would have at some point collapsed back in on myself.

      So greet those anticipating thoughts with a “oh hey, what’s up” and move back on with your day.
      I would get little loops of a song playing over and over in my head that at one stage of my anxiety had me wanting to bash my skull against something. And that eventually changed (later on in my journey) to me saying something like “oh well, that song loop is playing again…. play on as long as you’d like”. It didn’t immediately take the pain and torment away, but it was signaling to my body that I didn’t care as much as I had in the past.

      • Mark M 28th December 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

        Thank you Nolan. Really great advice. I’ve noticed you help people and ireally appreciate it. Can i ask you one more question? My two biggest fears are this, 1. I have a fear of creating more thought after the initial thought occurs, which ineviteably leads me ti creating more thought. If i create more thought, should i just not care that i do? Also, i have a fear that maybe i dont wont to recover as much as others as i have a relutance to put the work in. I mean its just a thought, but my actions suggest i do want to recover. I’m in such a mess and so worn down. Nolan. Thank you for the woods analogy, makes a lot of sense.

  87. Mark M 28th December 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

    For example some of my thoughts that affect me are ‘stop engaging with the thought’ or stop amswering the thought’ which in effect are answering the thought and i cannot discern if it is cnciois or automatic 🙁

  88. Louise 28th December 2018 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I find I’m having moments as if I’m checking in on myself. If i feel no anxiety or just feel like I’m me I then question myself is this how it is to be free of anxiety or am I slowly going insane. Has anyone else had this during recovery.

  89. Clare 29th December 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Mark- I have been dealing with intrusive/obsessive thinking for a year and three months now. To say it is exhausting is a large understatement. The thoughts have been there every day, no respite. It is not every other second like before, I do get some breaks but if I’m not thinking a disturbing thought, I’m thinking about all I went through. I am so sorry you are experiencing this too. I bounce back between hope and hell. I have moments where I honestly believe this will be behind me, but it’s short lived. I wanted to respond to you because one of your negative thoughts stuck out at me because I experienced the same one. There was a point where I would obsess over “I don’t want to get better” and then would freak out that since I thought that my mind would believe it. But it’s just another anxious thought. I am no longer bothered by it and I’m sure with time you will no longer be bothered by it either. Hang in there, you’re not alone. So many people deal with this.

    • Mark M 30th December 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Clare thank you for that. I really needed to hear it today. I hope you have acalm day as possible and may tomorrow be the same.

  90. Megan 10th January 2019 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I am in the middle of a bad setback right now. My nanna who i help care for is coming to the end of her cancer battle and the grief of this has cause a huge level of anxiety and sadness (I accept it is normal to feel this way given the situation).

    I have read Paul’s advice so many times and always get stuck on the same part. I know I need to go about life as normal and how it was before anxiety but I’m in my 20s and don’t remember life before anxiety, I’ve struggled with it since childhood due to various issues. When I do go about life as normal I almost feel an empty space where the anxiety was as if it has become a huge part of me and i don’t know how to let something else in. Has anyone got any experience with this? I have started seeing a therapist to help with this I’m just curious of other people have gone through this. It’s almost like I dont know who I am without anxiety, it has dictated so much of my life and decisions.

    • Stephanie 18th January 2019 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Megan,

      It’s only natural that when you stop focusing on something that you’ve spent so much mental energy on that it’s going to feel odd/weird/empty. That holds true for many things besides anxiety. The way forward is to start filling your life with things other than anxiety. You might not find much interest in other things at first, because you’re so used to focusing on your thoughts/feelings. But eventually you’ll find yourself more engaged with the outside world and less concerned with yourself.

      In my own experience, there have been many times when feeling relaxed and happy almost felt wrong because I was so used to feeling tense and horrible. But the more I moved forward and ignored whatever nonsense my tired mind was telling me, the less my mind chattered and the more I focused on other pursuits and actually enjoyed them!

  91. Nichole P 10th January 2019 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Hi everyone,This is my first time posting but I have been on this site since around 2009-2010. I recovered with Pauls methods the first time I suffered from anxiety but now instead of anxiety it has seemed to morph into panic attacks. I may have always had panic but didn’t realize it but now its sort of crippling to me especially driving or being alone. It’s like I know the way to recover and that is to just accept the feelings but I just can’t seem to get the mind set of accepting this go round (setback). Im not sure if its because I got out of the practice of it (accepting) because I recovered the first time or if it’s because it is such a different feeling this time around. I know the method is the same but the method on this one doesn’t seem to be the same. I am at the point of maybe considering pills. I don’t want pills but am considering. It’s like my mind fills me with such angst and I feel like im going to develop amnesia or my mind goes blank and I tell myself oh my gosh do I forget where I am? I feel like I am about to pass out and my heart palpitates and I know that it is anxiety and it is playing out on my fears but its not a fun time at all. I have had a tremendous amount of stress this past year and I know that is what brought this on but learning to live with these new feelings is pretty awful. I love reading others stories and I know everyone can recover, but when your in the midst of panic/anxiety it feels like maybe you can never recover.I have the disease of MS and this has been playing on my mind as well. I’ve had it or at least got diagnosed with it in 1998 so for awhile now but I am healthy otherwise. I had 2 MRI’s last year and both showed new lesions and that scared me but I believe the new lesions are from all of the stress that I was/am/are going through. I go into all sorts of scenarios in my head of what could go wrong with me and fill myself with fear of the unknown. It is kind of maddening. The one thing that has triggered my anxiety and probably morphed it into panic to begin with is that my dad became paralyzed from the waist down and it has been very stressful for me. It’s like I go into really deep thought about it and it feels like I can’t wrap my head around this. When I think about it I get stuck in my own head.
    Has anyone recovered with anxiety that has then turned into another type of anxiety that has then recovered? It’s like when I’m not driving, I’m ok, I can read pauls blog and all of your stories and get it and understand it but when im in the midst of it I can’t seem to get it under control…it just really sucks. When I’m driving, im ok to start but the thoughts start coming then it’s downhill from there. I use all sorts of distractions to take my mind off of it but I know that means not accepting but it is so hard. Like I have to call people on my car phone and talk to them incase something happens to me and they’ll know to call emergency. Or I have to roll my window down, or turn the radio really loud, and when im at a red light, I hate being in the left lane because I feel like im stuck and will want to jump out of my car and run but I know that I could not do that because it would be dangerous. It makes me feel like im going crazy or something. Sometimes sitting at a red light I get so frightened and just want to open my driver door and just put my left foot on the ground. Weird, I know. I just can’t get a grip on it this time around. If anyone has any thoughts on this, it would sure help me maybe to talk more about it.
    Thank you all for posting your stories. Parker

    • Stephanie 18th January 2019 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Nichole,

      It’s easy to fall into the lie of thinking that certain cases of anxiety or certain symptoms need to be treated differently or mean that you’ll never recover. I think you’ll find that almost every one has thought or struggled with that as some point. But it’s just not true. That’s why Paul talks about just putting everything under the umbrella of anxiety and treating it all the same.

      I know that you’re probably wishing you were dealing with the same issues as last time because then it might be easier to deal with. I’ve thought the same thing when new symptoms have popped up. But it really truly doesn’t matter if it’s an old symptom, a new symptom, intrusive thoughts, depressive feelings, situational anxiety, etc. – at the end of the day, we just need to stop giving it all so much of our attention and live with it for as long as it’s there.

      So right now you’re having anxiety driving. So be it. Drive around scared and panicked. You can still get where you need to go. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and frustrating. But this is how you feel right now, so feel it and keep living your life.

    • Amalia 20th January 2019 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Nicole. I am right with you. Everything you wrote on your post is exactly what I am going through at the moment. I have been trying to write the exact same post. I have to keep reminding myself to practice Paul’s advice. I am completely housebound at the moment. I was at this state 5 years ago and recovered for a while. However still dealing with anxiety but able to drive to and from work. I am now dealing with a really bad set back. Best of luck and prayers to all of us sufferers. And thank goodness for Paul’s helpful site

  92. Debbie 13th January 2019 at 1:51 am - Reply

    My mom just died a few weeks ago and my anxiety is so bad i was doing better before she died now iam in such bad shape she died unexpectedly my heart is so broke now i have where my mind keeps getting random flashes of anything that dont make sense its so scarey ..it makes me panic .has anyone ever gotten anything like this .

  93. Amalia 20th January 2019 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    I would like to know how people manage to work and keep a full time job while living with a severe panic attack disorder? Any advice would be truly helpful.

  94. Debbie 26th January 2019 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Alz how are you doing ? I hope you and the baby are doing good.

  95. Louise 31st January 2019 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Hi I don’t know if people still use this blog but I would like a little help please. If started with a new symptom of anxiety a sharp pain in my chest is has been in my right side but now my left and I’m over worrying thinking I may be having heart troubles or the start of a heart attack. Has anyone else had this symptom and if so did it go away in time l. Thank you in advance.

    • Stephanie 3rd February 2019 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Louise,

      Yes, I’ve had a variety of chest pains/symptoms – all caused by anxiety, all went away. The next time you experience the pain, just tell yourself “there it is again, oh well” and go about your day. It’s ok if you’re still scared of the pain, but don’t feed the fear by googling/checking your pulse/stopping what you’re doing/etc.

  96. LouiseB 31st January 2019 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Hi everyone

    All I went through the horrible intrusive thoughts with my 1st son and now I’ve had my second ( 11 weeks old ) I’ve still got them! They are the worst and some of them actually make me physically sick to my stomach! I think how can I think such awful things about my precious babies that I love more than life itself? I’m on medication at the moment as I just cannot cope without it. How are you doing anyway? Maybe we could help each other out? Knowing we are definitely not alone can really help I think. Also anyone else going through horrible intrusive thoughts and anxiety know that we are not alone and we will get through this somehow. Paul’s books definitely helped me and I continue to follow his wise words to this day.

  97. LouiseB 31st January 2019 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Sorry All was meant to say Alz

  98. Star 3rd February 2019 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Hi all,

    I wanted to share a little update on my own personal journey.

    I’ve felt a little change yesterday when I was remembering the amount of suffering I go through on a daily basis in just regular situations that I have no reason to be resisting so hard and painfully; experiences where I am safe because I am with family or people who are kind and have no clue what is going on inside but would feel very compassionate if they knew.

    So it was like I told myself I don’t want to suffer like this anymore and I am going to stop doing all the things that make me suffer. And I stopped: putting pressure on myself to be a certain way/ trying to change what was going on around me/judging and blaming myself constantly/ putting pressure on me to recover. And I felt freer. Suffering is so painful and I decided that as I know that I am the one doing it to myself, I am now going to stop doing that. And I can see that I don’t deserve to suffer like I have been.

    Of course I have fears that I will go back to suffering, but this is part of the suffering too. I need to stop worrying about things, like going to therapy and what the therapist will think of me, it’s just really bullying myself constantly.

    I think I am going to reread some blog posts and the books of Paul which may help me fine tune and keep this consistent, but I know that in the past when I felt better it was because I stopped doing the things that made me suffer which Paul speaks about and I have read his books a million times, so it makes sense to me and I trust it.

    • Stephanie 4th February 2019 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      That’s great, Star! It’s always our resistance to feelings/thoughts, our desperation not to have them, that fuels them. The more we tell ourselves “I can’t feel this way, I need to get rid of it!” the more we’ll feel that way. But when we allow ourselves to feel how ever we feel, then we give our mind and body a chance to heal. Our goal shouldn’t be to not feel anxious or, on the other hand, to make ourselves feel happy/relaxed/etc. Neither of those things will work and will only cause more suffering. Instead, practice being open to any state. As always, the best way to do that is to stop focusing so much on your thoughts/feelings and focus instead on outward things. You need to do laundry? Great, do it whether you feel horrible or you feel relaxed. You need to cook dinner? Ok, go do it regardless of how you’re feeling. And don’t analyze how you’re feeling during those tasks – “Am I anxious? Do I feel more relaxed now?” If you find yourself doing that, just turn your focus back to the task at hand. It takes practice, but every day is a new day, every moment is an opportunity.

      • Star 5th February 2019 at 1:56 pm - Reply

        Thanks for your reply Stephanie 🙂

        How are you in relation to recovery?

        I still struggle a lot with my anxious thoughts, but I need to work on allowing them as well, and not getting caught up and scared of them. The thing is I have struggled with this for so long, years and years and it’s hard for me to hold on hope.

        • Stephanie 5th February 2019 at 7:10 pm - Reply

          I still deal with anxiety quite a bit actually. Mine started as postpartum anxiety, and I had my second back in June and am experiencing a lot of the same things. But you know what, I know the way forward. Yes, it’s hard and not fun, but I know I can still live a full life even with anxiety. Like I said, every day and every moment is a new opportunity to change our response and attitude, to stop letting anxiety dictate how we are going to live.

          • Star 5th February 2019 at 7:32 pm

            That’s great that you are able to move forward and not get trapped in it. And congrats on the baby.

            I find that I need to get frustrated with the anxiety enough to say to it, I don’t care anymore, I am so exhausted I can’t fight you anymore; and this happened today as I was always watching myself and trying to fix myself and go into anxiety provoking situations in ‘the right way,’ and coming out frustrated and feeling like I failed. So I got fed up with it and I feel like this is the only way I am really able to stop fighting, because I am fed up. Otherwise I just seem to keep fighting and I can’t stop myself.

        • Stephanie 5th February 2019 at 8:23 pm - Reply

          I understand. We know we’re supposed to be living our life normally regardless of how we feel. But what often happens is, even in the midst of doing normal things, we find our mind still obsessing about anxiety. So then we interpret that to me we must somehow be doing things the wrong way. But what’s actually happening is we’ve built mental habits that aren’t going to disappear immediately. Our minds are going to continue to ruminate, question, race, self check, etc. The key is to learn not to be so impressed by it. If you’re doing something and you’re not anxious, great. If you’re doing something and you feel anxious, so what. Let your mind obsess – but then don’t obsess about the obsessing.

          • Star 5th February 2019 at 9:39 pm

            That makes a lot of sense. The habits of checking myself and trying to keep myself safe all the time drive me mad but I’m gonna work on not getting bothered by it. I am really so done with this anxiety.

  99. Louise Berry 5th February 2019 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    If been dealing with intrusive thought for bout 1 yr n Half now all kinds of things but I got through them let them be and they eventually no longer worried me the ones I seem to struggle with letting go is the self harm ones I’m scared and worried by these as I think what if I do it, is my body telling me am I going crazy. Then I become scared to be on my own or go out. I then get brain fog and dp. Which then escalates full on shakiness and mind racing and fatigue and nausea. If been doing really well the last few months and now I feel I’m right back at the start of been dealing with anxiety for over 2 years now and following Paul’s advice for around just under 2 years. Will these feelings and thoughts go or am I not doing the right things any advice please would be grateful sorry for the long post and thank you in advance

    • Stephanie 5th February 2019 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Louise,

      First, even though it feels like you’re back at the beginning, you’re not. You can’t erase the experience and understanding you’ve gained. Second, you know that whatever the content of your thoughts, it’s all anxiety. Some thoughts might be easier to dismiss, but it’s still all anxiety. I’m sure you’re frustrated when you find yourself having fearful negative reactions to certain thoughts. But, in fact, you need your anxiety to be “turned on” in order to retrain your mind. So let’s say normally when you get an intrusive thought you stop whatever you’re doing and frantically call someone to reassure you and calm you down. The message you’re sending to yourself is that this thought is harmful and you need to do anything in your power to escape from it. What if next time you got the thought, and you started having an anxious response (shaking, mind racing, wanting to escape, etc), you decided not to do anything about it? It’s going to probably feel pretty uncomfortable and scary, because normally you treat the thought as something that has to be defended against. You’re going to feel like you need to do something, to stop the anxious response. But you don’t. You need to allow yourself to feel anxious and scared without doing anything so that your mind will learn that this isn’t something dangerous. Oftentimes the response seems to increase because we’re finally allowing ourselves to feel it in its entirety. That’s ok. That’s actually a good thing. Like Paul always says, we can never be free from anxiety if we are always seeking to suppress it. Always remember, your goal is never to eliminate the thoughts or even that automatic fearful reaction to your thoughts – it’s to change your response. To stop running away, questioning, suppressing, whatever it is you do instead of just letting it all be.

  100. Louise Berry 8th February 2019 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you Stephanie. You are right in what you say I do panic when I have these thoughts as it’s portrayed on the news so much lately. But thank you for taking the time to give advice and will try my best to get too involved in the thought or emotions .

  101. o 12th February 2019 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Debbie ,
    Thanks for asking! Baby n I are fine. I’m at my mom’s trying to get myself back on track. How abt u??

  102. debbie 13th February 2019 at 3:50 am - Reply

    alz i miss my mom alot.iam glad you are doing better.did your anxiety get better ?I will keep you in my prayers .

  103. Marek 14th February 2019 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Hello all,

    I haven’t been posting for a longer time. I found this site 5 years ago, read the books, blogs and was applying the “accepting” since this time.
    I am 32 and my problem is anxiety 24/7 for more than 15 years. When I compare my anxiety now and years ago, I feel better in general. Problem is that my anxiety never disappeared completely not even for one minute. It moves on the scale, let’s say 1 – no anxiety , 10 – extreme anxiety, when I feel happy and msot relaxed possible I am at 3.5/10 (lump in throat, light pressure in chest) and when I have big setback it is maybe 8.5/10 (extremely tight throat, heavy chest pain, intrusive though, heavy depersonalisation ts etc.).

    I have hobbies, I travel, I play piano , train martial arts ,my job is not stressful (although I have problems with my remembering from anxiety.). I am not adding more fear into fear, not thinking about it nor suffering from the anxiety (although the setbacks are still hard), but I cannot relax my body after years. I remember that once Paul wrote that he overcame anxiety in one year completely what I cannot understand as I am still having very hard times…I am also taking antidepressants which effect is questionable in my case.

    My strong setbacks are also not for hours, nor days, but weeks… I am not sure whether I am still missing something as it takes so long. Also whether I will be able to relax completely sometime…




    • Stephanie 15th February 2019 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Marek,

      It would be unreasonable to expect to never feel anxious/stressed/tense again. Those feelings are part of the human experience – the issue is only when they consume us and we start to let those feelings dictate how we live our lives. Believe me, I understand wanting to feel good all the time after suffering for so long, but that’s just not possible.

      It sounds like you still have the habit of checking in on your anxiety. “Am I more relaxed than I was yesterday? last week? last month? last year?” Remember, the goal is to live your life regardless of how you feel. And it sounds like you’re doing that, so that’s all that really matters! Practice not rating how relaxed you feel. If you find yourself doing so, just say “who cares” and go back to what you were doing.

      As long as you make your goal “complete relaxation” or “always being happy”, it will elude you. We can’t force ourselves to feel relaxed and happy any more than we can force ourselves not to feel anxious. Like Nolan on here says, what we can do is create space for relaxation/happiness/peace by choosing to focus less on how we feel and instead just live our life. Those who have recovered fully didn’t tell themselves “I’m going to get rid of all my anxiety until I’m totally relaxed and at peace!” No, they said “I can feel however I’m going to feel, who cares, I have a life to live!”

      • Nolan 21st February 2019 at 2:59 am - Reply

        A very clear and concise way of putting it, Stephanie.
        Great post.

  104. Ejam 17th February 2019 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Excellent advice Stephanie. Even with the best intentions we sometimes have to be patient with our automatic reaction, it is not easy and sometimes we have to also accept that some days we will be better at doing this than others. The point you make about focussing on being happy, relaxed, peaceful is especially relevant and helpful to me – when something else is more important than this your anxiety takes a back seat. It is the ‘trying’ to control our emotions that is creating the problem. Just getting on with what life deals you as best you can while doing what you want to do or have to do is the volume control on anxiety. Thank you for your posts , they are positive and balanced.

  105. Marek 20th February 2019 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Hello Stephanie,

    thanks for comment.

    Unfortunately, I am not talking about never feeling anxiety again but about constant anxiety for long years. Only the level of anxiety is changing from quite anxious to very anxious, never without or low anxiety. I am living fully life with anxiety and not adding secondary fear into it and sure from time to time I am comparing how I feel and try to feel more relaxed, but is this a cause that I am still not recovered ? Is it bad that I listen to Waves crash on Youtube to feel more relaxed if I am not adding secondary fear or struggling? Experiencing heavy setbacks are difficult of course and even more after years of understanding the anxiety but they still occure often… I understand that there is no other way than accept anxiety, but sometimes I really doubt that there is the end of this constant anxiety…

    • Nolan 21st February 2019 at 3:12 am - Reply

      Hi Marek,

      You said, “experiencing heavy setbacks are difficult…”.

      I just need to point out: it can’t be constant anxiety (in the sense of unrelenting, continually high level) and having setbacks. Because a setback assumes that you at least at some point got a alittle distance from the intense despair of the worst of the anxiety.

      Setbacks have a way of tarring even our good moments that we had as being flukes or illusions. Now, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have those better moments. Just that they can appear, when in a setback, as being merely a mirage of no substance. And in reflecting on that it can almost seem to increase our despair. That would happen to me.

      I would be having some respite from the more intense form of my anxiety. I would gain alittle confidence, peace, and joy…. and then WHAM: a setback would hit me. At my worst in a setback I would think something like “the anxiety finally figured me out. It saw that little avenue of freedom/peace I had been on and completely tore that road up…. I’m now in a worse bind than I was before.” And that would have me, during that setback, thinking it was all despair the entire time; unrelenting anxiety.

      But then that storm would start to lift too. And I could better see how it was just a trick of the anxiety. An incredibly impressive and spirit crushing trick…. but a trick nonetheless. Because here I am now (during that reprieve) not being so impressed by the anxiety; being able to see beyond the storm; feeling more of myself in myself again.

      I’m just saying this because reflecting too heavily, or putting too much stock into the thoughts that you have during a setback can give you a false impression of what’s really going on. I don’t say that doing that will constantly foil your recovery, because I had those same thoughts and reactions during setbacks…. and I still somehow crawled out of those too.

  106. Stephanie 20th February 2019 at 4:34 pm - Reply


    I still think your focus is too much on getting your anxiety to leave. And I’m not faulting you for that. I completely understand and am guilty of it too. But as long as we’re searching for relief/the exit/a cure, then we are going to suffer. I’m not saying it’s bad to engage in relaxing activities – but if you’re doing so solely to “fix” how you feel, then maybe consider whether you need to be doing that activity at all.

    It is only when you can get to a place of truly not caring about how you feel that you’ll finally be free. Your feelings will no longer matter. If you’re not anxious, great. If you’re a little anxious, so what. If you’re really anxious, who cares. Even if you live the rest of your life with a low level of anxiety, it won’t matter. That’s acceptance. It’s allowing anything and everything, for as long as it wants to be there. I think sometimes we view acceptance as another removal method, when really it’s an attitude adjustment: going from effort to no effort, from caring to not caring.

    Again, I understand your frustration that you’re still experiencing anxiety. But I’ll also say again, as long as you’re looking to get rid of your anxious feelings, then you’ll continue to have them.

  107. Alz 23rd February 2019 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Paul ,
    Iv been a regular visitor of this blog especially since 2016 ( I just hv to see how much i used to come here fr help). In fact this blog was one of the tools besides therapy which helped me recover after a still birth . There were SO MANY people on the blog who were willing to reply and help . Hundreds of comments were normal in a couple of days and there was a rich community of people who had accepted anxiety and were willing to help those in the throes of it . Paul, you also used to reply once in a while if and when necessary.
    Now, I just fail to understand why such a helpful blog is unhelpful anymore. The last post was uploaded in November (4 months ago) and even though this site was refurbished n made more user friendly there’s a dearth of traffic here. Just wondering what has happened.
    I honestly miss the times I could turn to this blog for help . Seems like all the people who were there to help were a god sent! Paul what’s happened??

  108. Char 24th February 2019 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Hi all

    I also used to post here and found support great but have also noticed the large decline in traffic . Just wondered where everyone is also

  109. Paul David 25th February 2019 at 10:42 am - Reply

    On the question of the decline in traffic/responses here.

    Google changed the way it ranks sites last April and unless you have medical degrees behind you or are a big company name then you have no chance of ranking anymore. This has affected so many small independent sites, killing businesses overnight and so the reason few people are finding this site. All it takes is for others to move on and they are not replaced. I personally think its unfair but Google does things how they wish and it’s out of my control.

    Hope that helps explain

  110. Ejam 25th February 2019 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Paul, this is still a huge resource of information and the work you have done in collating all the advice is excellent. I understand that the conversation has slowed a little but the advice is still the same. I and others will always be very grateful for the work and effort you have continued with this subject to educate people. It’s good to see update posts from people who understand the message as it reassure us when we feel we need someone who has ‘been’ there but for anyone who feels a little lost, go back over some of the older posts, you can see peoples’ journeys with this and it can be helpful if you cannot find what you want for now. Stephanie and Nolan have posted some very helpful advice this year perhaps if you re read those they will help.

  111. Stephanie 25th February 2019 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I assumed that people who used to comment regularly had just moved on and were busy living their lives – which is a good thing!

  112. Nolan 25th February 2019 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz,

    You said:

    “Now, I just fail to understand why such a helpful blog is unhelpful anymore.”

    That’s a pretty uncharitable way to put it. I’ve been coming here since 2013 and there just are ups and downs with respects to traffic. But to say that the blog is now “unhelpful” is not a gracious way to put it. The fact is that are people who still come and post to help out others. To label that posting (because there isn’t as much of it) as ‘unhelpful” isn’t the right way to bring up the topic.

  113. Rosa 27th February 2019 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Marek,

    I think I can relate to you. I have had anxiety for about 15 years on and off. 5 Years ago it was very, very bad and I found Paul’s website. I have been practicing acceptance since then. I feel better than 5 years ago, but I still experience anxiety on a daily basis. Sometimes it is stronger, sometimes less so. Sometimes I am not anxious at all. However, I believe that I can’t undo 10 years of tensing up to anxiety in only 5 years and am ok with the fact that I might need to practice another 5 years or even longer. If we like it or not, we don’t have another choice than embrassing the anxieyt and everything that comes with it. When I am anxious I try to have an attitude of “so what” and “give me you worst” and try to really feel all the tension in my body. Try to be patient with yourself. Your are not alone in this!

  114. Alz 1st March 2019 at 6:26 am - Reply

    Nolan ,
    I understand that you’ve been helping people for a while on this blog . You’re not one of the people who need help. If you compare this blog to 2016 when there were ppl like Doreen. Rich, rik , Bryan etc you can definitely not see any of them here since a while. I guess perhaps I can rephrase what I said – this blog is not as active as it used to be.
    Perhaps it’s my sheer frustration in not finding this blog as helpful as before and there are different reasons Paul and Stephanie have given:
    – recovered people have moved on
    – google has made blogs like this less accessible and mainstream
    I would however not mind a regular post by Paul from time to time . And yes, I am ever grateful to you for having created this blog! Like I said , it helped me out of the dumps at one of the worst phases of my life. I guess I want that kind of support right now when I’m struggling And yes you’re right – one can scroll through the archives to get help. But u know how it is with people suffering from anxious thoughts – they’re aching for reassurance which is relevant to the current anxious turn they’re going through.

  115. pat diercks 1st March 2019 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz,
    There are only so many ways to give the same answer.
    The answer to our questions about anxiety all come down to the same few things; acceptance of the thoughts about- and the feeling off anxiety, not constantly seeking reassurance and continue to live your life.
    You can not think your way out of anxiety and there is not going to be some kind of magical moment where it all makes sense and you forget all about your condition.
    I am following this blog now for over two years, and these important lessons are taught to me by Paul, Nolan and a couple of others on this blog.
    This blog has been extremely helpfull to me and I can not thank the contributors enough.
    My point is that everything there is to say about anxiety is already said in this blog and the comments, and that there is no need to examine every other symptom, it all comes down to anxiety.

    • Nolan 2nd March 2019 at 4:24 am - Reply

      Great post, Pat.

      Those are two things that really held me back early on “constantly seeking reassurance”.
      I’ve mentioned this before but I had so many fake names to post under just to get people to talk more about my issues. I can remember 5 different names I was concurrently posting under asking the same questions over and over. Not really heeding the advice…. just wanting to hear the same comforting things repeatedly. But that only takes one so far.

      “no need to examine every other symptom”…
      This is something I’m always thankful towards Doreen for. I would frantically post my symptoms and thoughts…. explain them in great detail. Then a new thing would come up and I would latch so tightly onto that new issue thinking that this was somehow vastly different from all other manifestations of anxiety/depression. Doreen would quickly put me in check saying “it’s all the same thing: anxiety. So treat it the same”. Paul mentions this in his book too. The desire to hone in on each new manifestation of the torment is ultimately useless. But in giving up that tendency to scrutinize the individual symptoms it also helps free you (in a very modest way… though the doubt may remain for awhile).

  116. Paul David 1st March 2019 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    V wise words Pat, I wouldn’t change a word of that

    Alz I think I have written enough on here, it also takes 3 days just to write an article and I have also been super busy the last 12 months with the new site, audiobook and updating both books. As Pat says you can’t spend a life seeking reassurances, that’s not where recovery will come from. Everything you need is here if you stop looking for quick moments of relief and try and see the true message behind the words. You then won’t need to spend all your time looking for reassurance, you can just go back out there and live.

  117. Stephanie 1st March 2019 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Alz,

    I understand your frustration. But I don’t think the blog’s lack of activity is the problem. You’re wanting reassurance, but I think ultimately you’re seeking relief. But what is better, temporary relief or permanent peace? Paul has given all the advice needed; it’s up to us to go out and live it. I understand wanting reassurance, but as long as you keep coming back for that “fix” you’ll continue to struggle. Take it from someone who has made that mistake so many times. And it’s not just the blog, we can do it with just about anything. “If I was sleeping better, I wouldn’t be so anxious. If the baby was sleeping better, I wouldn’t be having such a hard time. If my husband was more understanding I’d recover faster. Maybe I need to exercise more, eat that food, not eat that food, meditate, do yoga, reread Paul’s books, draft a gratitude list…” and on and in it goes. Then we wonder why it’s not working, why we’re still anxious. Because we’re spending all our energy trying to fix anxiety, to make it go away. Until we learn to accept how we feel without trying to change it, and then turn our attention away from it all, nothing will change. Like Pat said, there isn’t going to be magical moment. There’s just going to be you making decisions every day to not let anxiety dictate so much of your life, to not talk about it so much, to not seek so much reassurance, to just go about your day anxiety and all.

  118. Paul David 1st March 2019 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Again, wise words Stephanie, I spent 10 years in the exact cycle you are talking about, it was like a full-time job that kept me in a never-ending, exhausting cycle that took me nowhere. One where I thought of nothing else but the subject and forgot to just live.

    Someone put this post on my facebook page that sums it up perfectly

    Once I completely unfollowed all anxiety related stuff online, stopped reading books on the subject and stopped discussing it with others and finally decided that I was going to enjoy my life with or without anxiety present then it finally started to go away. If you are still spending all your day trying not to feel anxiety, then you are still giving far too much attention to it.

    It is much better to acknowledge you have anxiety and decide not to let it get in the way of living your life, don’t try not to feel it, if you allow it there then you have nothing to obsess and worry about. This approach will lead to your brain focusing on other subjects, and you will start to feel engaged with the other things in your life and the world around you. Then one day you will look back, and the subject will be a distant memory.

  119. o 2nd March 2019 at 6:19 am - Reply

    Paul. Stephanie Nolan , pat
    Thank u so much. Iv tried different medications, the same medications etc and it’s reached a point where I feel I have gone mad and not myself. you’re right. No reassurance seeking will help but it’s been so trying after my daughter. Iv had intrusive thoughts of harming her etc. I just messaged my therapist saying I possibly need to be admitted. It’s all thoughts – but it’s so scary when u feel like the thoughts have taken over and u won’t be able to get out of them. I’m currently at my mother’s.. after the 9 months of preg and staying in constant anxiety I thought coming to my moms would help but I had such a bad turn. I’m talking, doing all with the thought that I won’t recover, have gone mad and won’t be able to feel normal feelings again. Yes, it’s anxiety but I feel like it’s completely pulling me in. Like I won’t be able to get out of this pit…

  120. pat diercks 2nd March 2019 at 8:18 am - Reply

    hi Alz,
    It feels to me that you still are looking for reassurance and certainy.
    You have to accept uncertainty; maybe you are a terrible person and someday you will do something horrible.
    There will never be 100% certainty.
    I also have intrusive thoughts about harming my children, but nowadays i just accept that and carry on.

  121. Alz 2nd March 2019 at 10:57 am - Reply

    I understand pat ,
    But not feeling with it, not feeling sane , etc I mean yes no certainty about anything but what does one do when those thoghts are so strong? Carry on ? Ur right . It’s reassurance seeking but fr one n a half years of continuous anxiety , I want my life back . I want a life at last -as Paul’s book is titled.
    Right now perhaps it’s also the hormones? Baby’s just 4 months old . Whatever it is ( ocd as my therapist puts it) i want to accept that they’re just thoughts. Just thoughts .

  122. Stephanie 3rd March 2019 at 12:11 am - Reply


    You said you want your life back and you want to accept the thoughts. Then you have to live your life with the thoughts. Right now you’re living in the typical cycle of fear. You fear the thoughts, you run around looking for relief and reassurance, you convince yourself you’re going mad, the thoughts continue to torment you. You have to stop trying to rid yourself of the thoughts. Notice I didn’t say you have to stop fearing the thoughts. It’s ok to be scared of them, especially since you’re tired and sensitive right now. But you have to stop trying to make them go away. Let them come, let the fear come (if/when it does), but continue living your life. You take the power out of the thoughts by not letting them dictate what you do/don’t do. Accepting the thoughts doesn’t mean suddenly not being bothered by them. If you sit and ruminate on the thoughts and try to will yourself not to be bothered by them anymore, it probably won’t happen. You’ll just be obsessing about the thoughts even more. No, you stop giving the thoughts your attention by focusing it on other things. The thoughts can (and most likely will) still be there, but so what. You can live your life with them screaming at you in the background.

    One last thing. Claire Weekes said “these are just strange thoughts in a tired mind.” Remember that.

  123. Anonymous 3rd March 2019 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Steph ..
    thanks a lot! You’re so right. But do u think medication will help? I’m taking the same meds I did before preg but they’re somehow not doing the trick. Anyhow yes, I can slowly see everything slipping out of my hands and I need to not let that happen.

    • Stephanie 3rd March 2019 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      I think medication is a personal decision. I tried it for a couple weeks and it didn’t help. I was wanting the pills to immediately make me feel better. What I discovered was I needed to learn to face my feelings and thoughts, I had to learn to live with them for as long as they were there. Pills weren’t going to do that for me.

  124. Paul David 3rd March 2019 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Alz Can I just put in a polite request, can you not write in text talk please Google can penalise the site for bad spelling/grammar and also it makes it very hard to read for others. I have gone through your posts and corrected them and it took quite a while. Thanks

    On the thoughts, I had them also so they are very common with anxiety sufferers. I eventually realised that I had no control over them and it was my fear of them that kept me in a loop of fighting and focusing on them. My fear came due to my identification and belief in them and this is what gave them fuel. So I was stuck in a vicious cycle of constantly fearing and trying to control my mind due to my identification with these thoughts.

    I then learnt about the mind, thoughts and their harmless nature, you can find more information here https://anxietynomore.co.uk/anxiety_worrying_thoughts/

    It was then that I began to give them space to be there, they were going to be there anyway so it made no sense to keep trying to fight/suppress them but the most important part is that this dropped away naturally due to me no longer identifying with them. They were now just something my mind created that had no truth and no bearing on reality. They barely held my interest anymore and I certainly no longer feared them, they were just something separate from me, internal noise passing through my conciousness.

    As my anxiety fell away then so the thoughts weakened but without my constant interest and belief in them, they eventually faded into nothingness, they just had no fuel to sustain themselves. Whatever you focus on, you strengthen, so it was vital to let go of my focus also, which again came through less fear through a better understanding

    So the main thing is to no longer identify them, observe them, yes, just don’t become them. I got to the point of being able to smile at them, they just seemed funny to me now. “Oh look there is an intrusive thought about harming someone, wow I remember when that would pull me into believing it” I just saw it as some anxious/negative energy within me manifesting itself through the power of thought, like the mind releasing some inner steam. It truly meant nothing to me now and without the belief, then the thought had far less emotional impact, belief in the thought is what creates an emotional hit.

    I am not saying this is easy initially, we have been addicted to the mind for so long, but as you begin to become more aware of the mind and its patterns then you learn to no longer fear it.


  125. Lynn 4th March 2019 at 5:15 am - Reply

    I’m very thankful for this website and blog! My issue with anxiety has almost always been around health/physical symptoms. How do you know if a symptom is anxiety and therefore I can say “who cares” or when it might be something that needs to be checked out by a medical doctor? For example, a feeling of shortness of breath? Thanks for any and all replies!!

  126. Stephanie 4th March 2019 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Hello Lynn,

    I think you’ll know if something were truly wrong. But by all means, if you want to visit your doctor for peace of mind, then do so. Just be sure not to fall into the temptation of going for a check up every time a new symptom pops up. It’s the nature of anxiety for us to feel and even for our minds to tell us “oh no something is wrong.” I’ve had shortness of breath before, and of course I had the fear of “maybe this really is something serious.” Yet every time, without fail, the symptom eventually passed. So accept all your symptoms and accept even the fear and doubt of the symptoms.

  127. Ejam 5th March 2019 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Lynn – this has been my problem with anxiety. I think what Stephanie says is right. I worried for years that I would not be able to tell if something was ‘real’ or anxiety. It’ can be very hard as anxiety is very convincing that we have something that needs to be solved – no matter what it is. It can be health or thoughts or relationships. It morphs too. However, if I have learnt one thing – you have to trust that you WILL know if something is really wrong, yes you may need to get some reassurance sometimes (but that’s normal people without anxiety do too). Claire Weekes says when you get moments of glimpsing you then know and you need to trust in those moments. I think Stephanie has put it more succinctly but basically have faith accept and carry on.

  128. Alz 7th March 2019 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Sorry about the text talk . I didn’t realise i was writing so much of it . Hehe . Anyway , you’re right . I need to live my life with the thoughts . It’s not easy but it’s not impossible . There’s a certain reason you, Claire weekes and others talk about the acceptance path . So I accept that I have anxiety and I let it be . I live my life despite it and do the things I like doing . I’ve realised constant reassurance seeking is also a part of anxiety

  129. Alz 7th March 2019 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Also Paul ,
    How did you stop identifying with them ? By focusing on other things ? That must have taken a lot of effort right ? I know it’s the mind , thoughts etc but they are constant .

  130. Alz 7th March 2019 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    Ejam , while most of my day is spent with the thought that I have possibly gone mad ( can’t get it out of my head ), I’m continuing with exercise, prayers, meeting ppl etc. I was this close to seeing another psychiatrist today but what will he say? It’s anxiety! I just can’t get myself to stop identifying with the thoughts . If I could just let those thoughts be (I won’t recover etc etc , this is me having lost it) i guess the battle would be won .

  131. Ejam 7th March 2019 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Alz – A lot of us understand this one moment and lose it at other times. If we were not afraid we would not look for reassurance. You are not ‘missing’ something it is the nature of the habit. It tells you that there is something wrong, or in your case tells you ‘mad’ things that you would never do. People who do bad/mad things are not scared of doing them. Keep living your life with these thoughts but know they are just thoughts. Take care.

  132. Lynn 9th March 2019 at 2:15 am - Reply

    Stephanie and Ejam, thank you so much for your helpful response to my question! I appreciate so much you taking the time to reply!

  133. Char 9th March 2019 at 5:43 pm - Reply


    I could do with some reminding please. I am also caught up in an obsession with my anxiety and my mind . I know I’m doing it but seem not able
    To stop it and break the loop. I have GAD but since January it’s been relentless- I’ve been taking time of work and don’t want to be on my own and go out etc . Not eating . Anyway it’s the constantness of the thoughts and the way it makes me feel at times that I cannot take another moment . This feeling is awful and I just don’t know what to do with myself . I know the answer is do nothing but I always fall and seek reassurance. When I’m not anxious I wouldn’t dream of telling someone how I was feeling and asking them to help. But then anxious it’s like I’ve lost my sensible head.

    So I’m now convinced I’ve had a breakdown and will be put in a psychiatric hospital . I can’t treat it as an intrusive thought as I think it could be real/come true .

    Any help or thoughts ?

    • Stephanie 10th March 2019 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Hi Char,

      As you know, the advice is always the same. Perhaps you’re a bit more sensitive right now so it seems more difficult to put into practice. But the advice doesn’t change. It sounds like you’re adding a lot of second fear to the thoughts: “I cannot take another moment” “I’ve lost my sensible head” “I’ve had a breakdown.” You can’t stop the thoughts. You can’t rationalize them away. You can’t will yourself to stop being afraid of them. But what you can do is practice living with them. So what if your mind is trying to convince you you’re losing it – go about your day. It’s always when we start rearranging and defining our lives because of anxiety that we struggle. Running around trying to find a way out, spooking yourself at every sensation and thought is only creating more confusion and fear. But when you give the anxiety all the space it wants to do whatever it wants, then your mind and body finally has the chance to recover. Don’t think that because your reactions seem especially intense or the thoughts seem especially strange that you’ve somehow entered a new level of anxiety. It’s all the same, deserving no special attention.

      Again, let anxiety do whatever it wants. Who cares if you’re scared and tense and confused right now. Let it all be and live your life.

  134. Alz 9th March 2019 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Ejam ,
    Thanks ! But the thoughts are continuous . They prevent me from talkig , socialising properly etc etc

    • Stephanie 9th March 2019 at 11:59 pm - Reply


      The thoughts are not doing anything to you. They’re just thoughts. It’s your response that is cause the struggle. Every time you respond to a thought with “I’m going mad! I can’t even function properly” you’re giving the thoughts control over your life. You keep making excuses when people give you good advice, so it’s no wonder you’re not making much progress. Once again, until you actually decide to put the advice into action – to live with the thoughts and with your fear of the thoughts – that you’ll experience change.

  135. Char 10th March 2019 at 9:03 am - Reply


    You give such good advice / any thoughts . I’ve got to look after my daughter and I’m just in a constant panic . Obsessed I’ve had a breakdown and I can’t implement acceptance

  136. Ejam 10th March 2019 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Char -Stephanie is really good at explaining this have faith in what she says. We are all at different and varying levels of acceptance and it is not linear. Our fears are sometimes stronger or weaker . We do get respite from them and the more outside focus we have the more the fear drops back. I/we know how convincing these thoughts/feelings are – when they are YOUR fears we believe that we are different to everyone else. When we are offered advice it seems other people have ‘got it’ and we still need to figure it out – that is the very nature of the habit. It’s difficult to explain this and I am by no means an expert and can only say what helps me – I have not ‘mastered’ it, but that’s fine – as it has been said here there will be no magical defining moment when we just ‘get it’. It means continuing your life with it – making ‘as best a decision’ as you can moment by moment. Accepting life is scary and that we don’t need to plan a perfect path but to move forward moment by moment accepting others are doing this too and knowing how much easier they find it when they as Stephanie said ‘just go about their day’ . Char – I think we can waste a lot of energy worrying we cannot implement acceptance – it is not a ‘to do’ it’s a ‘I don’t give a fig, I’m doing this’ attitude. Not easy – but others are doing it – and we can too. One step at a time. Same with you Alz.

  137. Char 10th March 2019 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Stephanie sorry I missed your response above. Yes I know this information but I am unable
    To implement it as I am so scared of what will happen to me. I’ve my 7 year old
    With me today and I’m terrified. Normally I work and run the house but this has floored me again . I’ve my mum staying as I can’t bear to be on my own and I’m even beating myself over that as I feel I’m failing my kids

    • Stephanie 10th March 2019 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Char,

      I understand where you’re at. I’ve been there many times. I have a 4 year old and an 8 month old, so I get the fear of being alone when you’re anxious. Which is why I also understand that you’re making excuses when you say you can’t. I know it seems impossible, I know it’s scary, but if you’re only practicing acceptance when you feel calm and confident, then what are you really accepting? It’s when the fear is raging and your mind is racing yet you continue to slowly go about your business that change happens. Don’t wait until the fear subsides and your mind calms. Have faith that will happen all on its own. Have the courage to let the thoughts and feelings do whatever they want – but in the background while you go about your day. You’re playing with your children and you feel like you’re going crazy? Who cares. You’re preparing lunch and your hands are shaking? Oh well.

      I know you’re trying to figure it all out, to grasp on to a sliver of peace or normality. But it’s all of this frantic effort that is making you feel more confused and scared. The more you struggle, the more peace and calm eludes you. So give up the struggle. Accept that right now nothing makes sense. Accept that you’re scared. Then go live your life.

  138. Char 10th March 2019 at 10:22 am - Reply


    Thanks so much . I’m trying my best but I can’t help feeling I’m failing compared to others. The fear is so strong . I can’t eat until late in the evenings and I can’t be on my own.

    It’s like I don’t recognise myself when it’s like this .

    It’s obviously causing problems in the house aswell as it creates more work for my husband and he then gets more stressed which leads me to feel worse and so we have a viscous circle.

    Just feeling trapped by all this

  139. Ejam 10th March 2019 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    We understand how hard this is – tiny steps forward Char. I often have felt that I am failing to ‘get’ it but that is part of the habit of our thinking mind. It is very difficult for people who have not suffered with this to really understand how convincing it is. But it is a convincing BLUFF. I can honestly tell you it is our perception that we have a problem that is the problem. The fear is strong for lots of people – don’t feel you are failing in comparison to others, you are not, you will get better at this but you need to not be so hard on yourself too.

  140. Char 12th March 2019 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Can I ask another question . How do you move to acceptance ? I do not have a core belief that anxiety is NOT dangerous to me. I believe it is Dangerous as I believe it will lead me to a “mental breakdown” even though I know there is no such thing in medical terms ( I’m not talking psychosis or schizophrenia I know that they don’t come from anxiety).

    If I can reassure myself on the above then the anxiety moves to its dangerous to me because I might be like this forever and what if I couldn’t handle it .

    These are my core concners with my anxiety and why I can’t seem to move forward .

    Any thoughts or help?

    I have GAD

  141. Stephanie 12th March 2019 at 9:31 pm - Reply


    The problem with reassurance is it’s short-lived. At first you feel better, but then the old fears creep in and you’re back to trying to find that word or phrase or thing that comforts you.

    You’re still trying to solve anxiety, when what you need to do is leave it all alone. Nolan has said many times that it was when he finally felt utterly hopeless and defeated that he started making progress. Why? because he stopped trying to fix anxiety. He accepted how he felt, no matter how awful; he even accepted that he might feel that way forever. But he went back to living his life.

    I know at the moment it feels like you can’t move forward until you feel less unsure. But again, the problem with that is there will always be a new sensation or thought that will make you questioning again. You have to decide that enough is enough. You’re done trying to figure it out. You’re done trying to comfort and reassure yourself. If you’re scared, fine. If you’re questioning everything, ok. Turn your I can’t into I can and I will. Turn your what if’s into so what.

  142. Paul David 12th March 2019 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    That’s a very good comment, Stephanie

    I too spoke about this in my second book, how my complete surrender came not just through understanding that fighting and suppressing were utterly pointless and counterproductive, but through just bottoming out, I’d tried everything and nothing had worked. I was done, defeated, I had lost, just take me then. This is when everything changed, I had lost complete interest in struggling, fighting, suppressing, I had no fight left in me.

    This is also why I explain certain symptoms. so people lose their fear of them. When you no longer fear, you don’t struggle the same, you are far more allowing of that emotion, it doesn’t hold your constant attention and the rumination begins to cease. Some people give up through understanding, some do so because they have just had enough, they become exhausted with it.

    I can guarantee that most of your symptoms are not anxiety related but due to this constant battle to defeat it, not just emotionally, but mentally too. Trying to keep everything together, manage yourself, worrying about this symptom and that symptom is extremely mentally draining, all your awareness also becomes inwards and why you feel so disconnected from your surroundings, it is all logical when you see it. So much of my suffering fell away when I just gave up this fight and my mind and body began to heal itself.

    Nothing needs to be defeated here, this is where so many go wrong, as it’s this fight that is causing the very symptoms they are trying to escape from and so it becomes a loop.

    I can see clearly by what they write when someone has ‘got it’ and when someone is still stuck in a loop of thinking they just need that magic answer or technique to be free.

  143. Star 12th March 2019 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Stephanie and Paul and anyone who can help,

    I discovered this acceptance approach about 3 years ago now, and what I find keeps happening with me is I start the process of doing nothing, giving up, surrendering and then the storms pass and I feel peace. But whenever the storms/anxiety comes back, I fall right back into the old habit. Basically I spend more time resisting and fighting until I get frustrated or something clicks through all the suffering and then I release but then resist again when it comes back.

    The last ‘release’ I have had was in August. I think something clicked this morning again and I really appreciate the way Paul writes (I have read many different people on the same subject) because it is written so clearly and sharply. When he/you say in your book about ‘what is it you need to do? Nothing.’ And it kinda makes sense in my head again. Sorry for the rambling. I just wanted to say that even when I am ‘going through’ the releases I find that I need to constantly remind myself ‘I don’t need to do anything’ and then I relax back. I am just wondering if this is wrong and it could be why I keep getting pulled back into the storms. But on the other hand I think it may be because I have spent so much time resisting and searching intensely, that my mind sort of reverts back to the search but then I need to remind myself and that maybe in time I will be able to do it naturally?

    I hope this makes sense?

    • Stephanie 22nd March 2019 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Star,

      Of course you might find yourself automatically resisting/searching/fighting. But don’t add anymore to it by analyzing why it’s happening – that’s just adding more resistance to resistance. When you find it happening just say “oh well” and turn your attention elsewhere. I don’t think you necessarily have try to make yourself relax. Accepting means accepting even if you’re tense or confused – but not adding any more tension or confusion by questioning why you feel that way or trying to make yourself feel differently.

  144. Seth 16th March 2019 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    I have a question. What about stuff like self esteem/self acceptance? I’m sick of experiencing negative emotions with loneliness, rejection, etc. I want to develop thicker skin but its also exhausting trying to force myself to have it. My therapist said that looking back into the past is not going to fix anything and its about changing behaviors now. I’m scared if i don’t analyze myself and try to fix myself i’ll never become stronger or better, etc. Is Self Acceptance a huge tool into maybe lessening the intensity of emotions? And how can i do it? Surely just saying “i accept myself” doesn’t work and is just an affirmation. Any insight into this? I want to have solid self confidence but i feel like i put a microscope on myself and invite more intrusive thoughts, anxiety and i’m too scared to give that part up from me.

    • Stephanie 22nd March 2019 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Seth,

      My personal opinion is that lack of confidence and/or self esteem is a result of anxiety. As the anxiety lifts, confidence naturally returns. I don’t think you need to force anything. I think you’d be better off practicing accepting that this is how you feel right now and then moving forward with your life. For example, social interactions can feel strange and forced when you’re anxious. Trying to foster some false sense of social confidence in an effort to make it feel less strange and forced will just result in more exhaustion and confusion. But if you accept the strangeness and try to move through social situations as gently as possible, then you remove the tension and strain that feeds the anxiety. Fixing never works when it comes to anxiety, but allowing gives your mind the rest it needs to heal itself. And with that healing will come peace and confidence.

  145. Alz 19th March 2019 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Paul I love ur reply . I’m currently still in that loop of fear . I am however sick n tired of it. I want my life back . Iv reached a point where I do things, talk etc but the fear Signal still works it’s way through . I want my life back. Iv come to my moms and hvnt seen my husband in two months .. my child has grown almost 5 months. The meds hv been increased but I still hv crying spells and then what does one do with the depression ??

  146. Belgian 20th March 2019 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I have recovered of panic disorder in the past and this is largely due to Paul’s ‘teachings’ and the comments of people like Nolan, Stephanie and many others on this forum.

    I am coming back to this forum not in despair. But to acknowledge the following. I am currently in a stressful situation at work and I notice that old ‘demons’ are wakening up again. The inevitable stress that comes with this results in ruminating. I am not yet fearful of my ruminations and thoughts, but I do see I am struggling with them more and more.

    Years ago the topic of my ruminations were diseases that would kill me. I thought I had cancer, HIV. I fought with these thoughts for months up to a point that they became the center of my life. During my last big episode of panic, 5 years ago, the topic shifted to my relationship with my wife. This was the big one as you can only keep on thinking that you have cancer until a certain point. When the doctor looks at you and starts to laugh at you because you are in his waiting room again with an imaginary disease, you kinda know that you won’t be getting chemo the next morning. For relationships, this point is much more elusive and difficult to get. Yes, there are moments during which I feel that everything is perfect the way it is. But there are lots of moments where all of this is not so clear. When in a good spell, these moments of doubt pass… or they don’t. In a bad spell (read when under continuous stress), these moments take over your whole reality. They become one big momentum of existential doubt without you having the capacity to take a step back and assessing the situation. This leads to more stress and more stress and ultimately – inevitably- to fear.

    I know this. I also know that for these moments to pass I need to accept them without trying to analyze them or overcome them. Even after years of practice, it is not always easy to do this. I hate the fact that I feel doubt when I am with my wife and I want to get rid of these feelings. I want to feel perfectly fine and one with her as I know I love her. I know I do because I have been here before. Panic, stress and emotional fatigue are blocking any ray of sunlight coming from her face. They are fueling all the usual little things that annoy you in another.

    I don’t have a question as I have the only answer that applies, acceptance. I only wanted to share with you the fact that even while knowing this there are moments of vulnerability. Moments during which we need to take care of ourselves. Moments to remember previous paths we took. Moments to choose new ones.

    If anyone on this forum can relate to the above, I would be grateful for your reply. I know it will serve as confirmation and reassurance and that ultimately they won’t help in the long run. But I’ll enjoy it anyway 😉



    • Stephanie 22nd March 2019 at 3:48 pm - Reply


      You’ve already acknowledged the real issue is stress at work. Not your marriage. Your mind is tired and sensitive right now and ruminating, as you said. So let it if it wants to, whether that be about your wife or anything else. You already know the way 🙂

  147. Belgian 20th March 2019 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Paul,
    can you erase my name in my last post?
    Force of habit, but not really intended to disclose it here 🙂

  148. Ejam 21st March 2019 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Belgian – you are having a dip. Normally you understand acceptance and feel it in your core. I have looked to you and others here for what I already know myself so many times,. I have had a blip for a while but feel I am getting days where I understand now and others when I don’t. The days when you don’t are when we look to others for strength to feel what we already know. There is a piece in Paul’s second book about a man who is doubting his love for his wife – he says ‘ I really don’t know why I think this way because deep down I am sure I do love her?’ Paul said that ‘that final statement should tell you everything you need to know. And that is your thinking is not you. Who is that person questioning why you think this way? That illustrates the fact that your thinking is separate from you. It is something that happens within you , but it is not you. So you are the one who can decide to take these thoughts seriously or not. You are the one who can decide to follow your dysfunctional thinking and let it control you or you can smile at it and take your own path.’ The man saw through the lie. You will too. It’s just you are tired and have lost your way a little – you will very soon see things clearly and know this is just anxious thinking latching on to what is most important to you. I often think of your reference to a watch … Hope you feel better soon.

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