Learn to harness your anxiety to reach your goals.
Anxiety is a natural response to a perceived fear. Perceived fear, not necessarily a real fear. Your perception is 100% reality. Whether real or not…it does not matter. How you deal with your anxiety is what matters.
During my first few weeks as I traveled throughout India, I had a noted increase in anxiety. All due to the perception that I was not safe. The truth is, I was as safe as most anywhere I had traveled. I was uncertain of the culture and the language, feeling very vulnerable.
What I experienced was based on my false belief that I was going to be harmed. I was able to take this false belief and harness it to work for me in a powerful way.
You too can learn how to take your natural anxiety-based energy and propel yourself from your current situation to a whatever you desire. For some that may be a job promotion, raise in salary, increase in clients or even a happier family, smarter kids and improved health.
If you are like most people, you are not really sure what you what you want to do. You are only able to identify that your current situation is not good.
Whether it is your job, home, relationship or lack of motivation…you know there is a problem, you just are not able to clearly see the issue that needs your action. So, you sit in your anxious state, worried, losing sleep while caught in the rut of life.
The reason you are unable to see the solution clearly is uncontrolled anxiety.
Uncontrolled anxiety is much like having a narrow focus on a large area. Your focus is intense, narrow and you find yourself questioning those little things…when in reality, your focus needs to widen and you must understand the bigger picture (which is your end-goal).
If I am worried, concerned or anxious regarding a presentation I am going to give in a few days, and all I do is think about how to respond to a certain set of questions. In the process of all this worry, I don’t sleep well, I eat poorly, I don’t exercise which results in decreased cognition, forgetfulness and further anxiety.
When the truth is..what happens when those questions are not asked? What happens when I fail to present this material in a meaningful manner? What happens to my message?
This is true in the tourist industry as well. The month I spent traveling throughout India, my husband and I stayed at various accommodations. The one thing each merchant requested was “5-star review on Trip Advisor”. One hotel we stayed at, had only been open for six months. Although the hotel was clean, they failed to keep soap and toilet paper in the restaurant bathrooms. Their anxiety was focused on the traveler giving the 5-star review, yet they failed to learn that their marketed customer (westerners) would expect soap and toilet paper to be provided. They would open doors for us and smile yet that was not what our reviews were based on.
If all your energy is focused on the wrong thing, or prepping for various scenarios to unfold, then those other areas outside of your focus will be left to chance.
The power of movement.
Anxiety causes movement, physical and mental movement. Anxiety out-of-control is exhausting. What if you could channel this energy in a productive manner? How awesome would that be? Well, you can.
First, you must understand the basis of your anxiety. Is it founded on reality? Are you so accustomed to living in chaos, fearing the future and expecting the worst happening to you that you live in fear?
In order to understand your anxiety, you must spend some time reflecting on your thoughts, behaviors and your response. Just like anything worth doing, it takes time and should be scheduled in your daily life. It is helpful to practice journaling and essential to meditate daily.
Meditation and mindfulness are tools you will use to harness the energy of anxiety.
As you increase your awareness of your anxiety and how your body is responding to these fears it is important that you acknowledge these responses.
Acknowledging your anxiety provides you with a tangible reflection of the power of your anxiety. Now it becomes important to not apologize for your anxiety, but instead, acknowledge it’s presence and begin to journal your thoughts.
As you journal those thoughts, we will see a pattern develop. This pattern might be focused on a particular fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of germs or fear of loss. These are examples, you will see your own theme or pattern develop.
Those themes or patterns are based on a particular thought or core belief.
Understanding your core belief begins with challenging this negative thinking by responding with facts. These facts will begin to chip away at this negative core belief.
Your anxiety effects those around you.
Whether they tell you or not, people will know when you are anxious and they will feel your uncertainty and worry.
Especially children, they know you are feeling unsettled, they just do not understand the true reason for your anxiety.
Your children will naturally believe that they are to blame for your behaviors. Children will also begin to mimic your behaviors. For example, if you are someone who becomes anxious when you leave your home and you have a set of behaviors that you will do prior to leaving, then expect that as your child ages they will have those same behaviors. Your anxiety becomes their anxiety.
Let me introduce you to Janet (not her real name). Janet came to me as a patient in a community outpatient clinic under the suggestion of her husband. Janet had a true fear of germs. Janet is very intelligent and studied microbiology. Her studies taught her about the world of virus, bacteria and their dangers. Janet was unable to stop thinking about these germs and would spend most of her day cleaning, washing her hands and when she felt as if she was exposed to a germ, she would begin to vomit. Janet seemed fine with all the cleaning and would just say, “well, my anxiety is making me clean”. The problem that developed over time was that Janet had a child. As her child grew and started going to a public school, she became more concerned about her child getting exposed to the germs. For the child, bath-time was a ritual that began immediately after school and several bouts of hand washing throughout the day. Her child would report if another child at school was sick, and Janet would immediately begin to get nauseous and then vomit. Janet would have to go to her own bedroom, close the door and wait for this feeling to pass. Janet’s husband became concerned when their child would notice Janet’s disappearance and naturally blame them self. After completion of therapy, Janet gained control of her anxiety. On our last session together, she told me, “I am finally able to play with my child and be the mother I always wanted to be”. Janet learned to harness the anxiety and use it for her own good instead of living a life in fear.
As you begin to discover your physical symptoms associated with your anxiety, you will know when the anxiety is starting, as it grows and even the moment before it spirals out-of-control.
While you experience uncontrolled anxiety, you easily know when it starts and when it is out-of-control. Throughout your journaling and self-discovery, you will be able to feel your anxiety level heighten. Knowing this progression is the key to stopping your anxiety before it is out-of-control.
Daily practice of meditation, journaling and acknowledging your core beliefs are the tools needed to harness your anxiety’s energy.