Worried about worrying
This email was sent to me: “I am worried almost all the time and about everything. How do I work against it?”
Anxiety is a growing mental state affecting all ages even the youngest ones. The causes are numerous and beyond the scope of this talk.
“ Working against it” is similar to “ Escaping from it and trying to relax”.
Anxiety and escaping from it or trying to relax don’t go together. In fact, the more we try to escape from it, the stronger the anxiety may become.
We become worried about worrying. To this anxiety, we are adding anger and frustration.
This is how the mind is trapping us, not just with anxiety alone, but also while struggling with it or any other negative feelings.
We are using all kind of derivatives in trying to escape from this painful mental condition.
Searching to relax is the common approach. It can be medication, cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, traveling, alcohol, entertainment, new partner, working out, etc...
But all of them are external tools. If being relaxed is, indeed, possible with these tools, this feeling is always superficial and transient and anxiety will pop out again and again because it is a chronic condition for the majority of those affected by.
Instead of fighting against or avoiding anxiety, feeling and accepting it will be far more beneficial on the long term. I must admit that it does not sound like fun and it is not.
They are only two ways to deal with this very frequent negative feeling and both are mindfulness-based. Meditating of our anxiety in a mindful way, that is non judgmental is an excellent approach.
1) Instead of being upset or fighting your anxiety, you could sit down and invite your anxiety into the room.
That means to pay attention and accept what we despise: the feeling of anxiety and not its origin behind it. The difference is critical.
2) The other way to observe mindfully your anxiety is to materialize it meaning to scan its effects on your body and its functions. This is called somatization assuming, obviously, that no medical condition is present.
Remember that Mind and body are not two different entities, as the Western world believes, but the same one. They are interconnected: mind affects body and body affects mind all the time.
Even when the anxiety is subconscious, it will always affect your body and its functions almost immediately.
Pay your attention on your body where anxiety and stress are commonly materialized such as:
shoulders, neck, hands, respiration, heart rate, appetite and belly.
Pay attention to any tightness, pain (headache, gastric), transit problems, tremor, rapid heart rate,
lack of libido, fatigue, graving for food or the opposite, etc.
Feeling physically your anxiety and accepting it is a great skill to master and to deal more effectively with this disturbing feeling.
This is not resignation but the way to outsmart the mind.
Often the story of the anxiety such as why, when, how, whom, where will hijack your mindful observation of the anxiety. Reboot your body scanning and let go the questions.
Spend a minute or two in observing your anxiety mentally and physically rather than being trapped in it. Repeat this exercise as often as possible.
When anxiety is somewhat emotionally under control, it is time to deal more effectively with it and its causes.
Being upset about your anxiety is adding one problem on the top of the other.
Does it make sense?