ANXIETY IS THE most common psychological condition, but the great news is that it is also the most effectively treated.
The cause and cure for anxiety are: the brain (an organ in our body) and the mind (the thoughts we can control). Below are three tips that can help us grow through our fears.
1. Facilitate Optimism. Our fear level is determined not by the situation we find ourselves, but by our interpretation of that situation. When our interpretation changes, so does our entire sense of what fear is and isn’t. A pessimist can learn to be an optimist. It just takes practice with intention. Human beings are capable of feeling two emotions: fear and love. Fear is separation. Love is connection. Those of us who learn to process as optimists are more likely to take action in response to stressors. Pessimists may feel defeated and alone, making them less likely to choose constructive connection actions.
2. Practice Mindfulness. Present moment, focused awareness, or ‘mindfulness’ is an excellent way to process anxiety. It changes emotional reactions, which are often unconscious, to a controlled, fully conscious response. Suppressing emotion has been proven to decrease well-being. Mindfulness allows us to feel and validate emotion and then move on. The key is to own the emotion and then do with it as we will. It is not that we are not afraid, but rather that we are willing to feel the fear and let it go. We are not fearless, but are willing to be mindful of fear and grow through it. We need fear to be courageous.
3. Be the Boss of Your Brain. Avoidance is the primary way most of us deal with anxiety, which is not the best practice. As boss, know that fear is simply a problem to be faced and learned from. It is impossible to be relaxed (parasympathetic nervous system) and anxious (sympathetic nervous system) at the same time. So relax and consider the fear. We may notice feeling tense. That’s okay. If we immediately smile, we can take the power out of that fear by thinking or speaking about it and doing so while we’re in a relaxed state. We remember about 10% of what we read; 20% of what we hear; 80% of what we say; and 90% of what we do. So whenever possible, we should use multimodal learning (using as many senses as we can) to replace our fear with peace. Taking advantage of the opportunity to change and better ourselves, will take the hurt out of pain.
Conclusion: We are the most significant resource when it comes to successfully changing anxiety. It is not the miracle that makes the believer. Rather, it is the believer who makes the miracle. We are the solution. Practice LOVE over fear with every choice…and you are healing.
Hear Lois’s 2015 interview with Sandi Klein here.