I’ve heard and seen this phrase many times but it never really resonated with me until recently. ⠀⠀
We all have a story, mine involved an extreme amount of anxiety and misery in my late 20’s.
I used to unknowingly get caught up in whatever scenario my mind could conjure, and I have an amazing imagination. I could go from feeling excited about something to, microseconds later, nearly crying because my mind found some scenario that would mean the complete demise of whatever joy I was feeling (enter thought of someone close dying).
For the cherry on top, I would then panic because I was feeling anxious, like “oh shit, here it comes again”. ⠀⠀
As a result, I had to do a huge life “clean up”. ⠀⠀
It’s been many years of decluttering (many more to come, I’m sure) and it’s been a #journey!!! I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t experience anxiety anymore, fortunately it’s now very mild and doesn’t last long. ⠀⠀
What helps me to stay in the low range is to stop struggling with it!
There‘s a psychological term called the struggle switch, it‘s the idea that when we start to feel fear, anxiety or any other low level emotion, we can sometimes make it worse by getting upset that we’re feeling that way. So now we’ve created an even greater stress because we’re stressing because we’re stressed 🤯
Think of it like being in quicksand (you know from the old westerns…just YouTube it 🙄), if you panic and struggle, you end up working your way down further into the muck until you’re buried. The best thing to do in this scenario is actually counter-intuitive, it’s to remain calm and don’t move, you’ll simply float until someone can help you.
The same works with those ruminating thoughts, we get caught up in them, our bodies react and produce the feelings of anxiety and then we have more worried thoughts about the feelings of anxiety and we get….you guessed it EVEN MORE ANXIETY!!!
We spend precious energy in the present moment stressing about an event that, chances are, will never happen, and even if it did, we never really know how it will really go down until we’re in it. Anyone who’s ever been faced with an emergency situation knows this well.
In fairness our brains only do this to protect us from any impending doom that it believes may come our way (thank you brain but no danger here while I’m lying in bed 🙄). The mind can conjure up the worst case scenario, and then rationalizes how we could survive it, so anything less than that would be easy!
So if the problem is that we get hooked in the thinking pattern and then stress about being hooked, the solution then seems obvious, simply drop the struggle, surrender.
It’s simple but, like any new habit (and, yes, anxiety is a habit too), it takes time to become routine.
I’ve been practicing this consistently for years now and, when the chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling thought pops up in my brain, I recognize it for what it is, A THOUGHT! That shit ain’t real!!!! Thankfully, at this point, I rarely get too carried away into the next twisted fantasy my brain creates 🙏.
When we can start to recognize (most) fear for what it is, an illusion, it becomes easier and easier to dissolve anxiety before it has a chance to take hold.
Knowledge is power here. Acknowledging the thought, thanking the brain for doing its job, and surrendering to the fact that this is all part of living a life that is beautifully meaningful and is coloured with all emotions, is also the beginning of freedom.
All we have to do is surrender.
I hope this helps you if you’re struggling, just know you are not alone and you are
light and love always,