Anxiety is often treated medically as though it is a disease because anxiety can wreak havoc in our lives. However, it is possible to turn anxiety from a disabling emotion into a freeing one, to actually overcome anxiety and improve your life!
Anxiety comes from three general causes:
In every case, anxiety is like a red light on the dashboard of your life. It is trying to get your attention. If you ignore it, medicate it away, or act it out -you will likely suffer further. You are ignoring an important natural signal, to your detriment.
How can I turn anxiety into an asset? Anxiety is trying to tell you that one or more things need to change, starting with oneself. "Maybe this relationship is really not working!" "Maybe I'm so busy trying to get accepted/ approved/loved by someone else that I am not accepting/ approving/loving myself." "Maybe I am so worried about the future that I am not living in the moment."
By paying attention to what anxiety is trying to signal to us (in much the same way as do indicators on a vehicle's dashboard) we may discover what we need to change. For example, if worrying about the future, ask yourself, "Am I trying to live IN the future at the same time as living now?" The answer will likely be, "yes." Would it not be better to live only in the present moment while resourcing yourself so as to be prepared for the future? If you are taking on too much responsibility for others then how can you best reduce this cause of anxiety? Sharing the responsibilities? Inviting others to be more responsible for themselves? Lastly, if you are making others responsible for how you are doing and/or feeling about yourself (esteem) then you will likely discover that developing healthy boundaries will alleviate your anxiety.
How can I stop panic? First, take some deep breaths, focusing your attention on your breathing and name the emotions(s) you are experiencing. This begins to reduce that experience. Second, acknowledge that you are in charge of your life and that you are resourceful. After all, you've lived this long! Third, notice that you are likely taking something out of your past and are imagining that this is now happening in the future! Fourth, reduce how responsible you are for others, especially their emotional well-being. If they are adults they alone are responsible for their emotions (see more under Self Esteem). Fifth, make a decision to act. Not a perfect one, but one that is good enough. You will likely find that these steps also help you to stop dread, the fear of what is to come.
There is another type of anxiety, medically called "General Anxiety Disorder." This form of anxiety is constantly looking for possibly horrible things that could occur, especially the loss of any number of things -such as a loved one, a friendship, health, self-esteem, a job, a grade, status, money, etc. This form of anxiety is particularly imaginative!
The problem is principally this: we see anxiety as a problem! This is natural as anxiety wreaks havoc in our lives. It is a horrible thing to experience. But this symptom is a result of failing to befriend the source of our anxiety. Once we come to accept and love the parts of ourselves we usually reject or judge then we satisfy the origin of this form of anxiety. Even better: then our imaginative part begins to work with us, not against us! In fact, once you have befriended it you may find your creative energies and abilities are multiplied and you become better able to follow your calling in life. Click here for an example.
This approach may also be helpful to those suffering from some forms of schizophrenia.
When you learn how to identify the root of your anxiety, and to get to the root of the issue(s) it is pointing out, anxiety's job is done and it goes away or becomes an ally!
Would you rather suppress this helpful indicator, or improve your life? Why
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Click this link to Ian's profile on the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors website