Do you find the beginning of a new year one of the most anxiety-triggering times? Whether it is about facing the big unknowns this year may bring, the sense of having to climb another mountain of obligations and challenges, or the worry that you won’t reach the goals and desires you have for the next twelve months, the list of reasons to be anxious seems endless.
Yet, rather than struggling with your emotions (again), let’s make 2020 the year where you are able to free yourself from anxiety. Based on almost 20 years of experience, I found that overcoming and outgrowing anxiety isn’t about getting rid of its symptoms, but about opening our mind and heart to the simple truth, that who we are is enough.
Let me share with you some of the keys that can get you started on this journey.
Your anxiety is not done to you, but created by you:
Believe it or not, that’s good news, because accepting that you create your anxiety reminds you of your ability to un-create this emotion. You have the most powerful tool at your disposal—your mind. After all, it was your mind that created your anxiety in the first place. And with the right guidance and tools, your mind can resolve the root causes of your old anxiety patterns and replace them with new, self-empowering perspectives and beliefs.
Your anxiety cares about you:
I know, considering how overwhelmed and debilitated anxiety can make feel, it is difficult to imagine that this emotion serves a positive purpose. Yet, the fact is, anxiety is created by the protective aspect of your subconscious mind, which usually originates in your childhood when you were the most vulnerable and powerless. Like an overzealous bodyguard – or super-nanny – this inner protector uses anxiety to warn you from anything that can potentially cause you to get hurt, rejected or abandoned. The problem is that while you have grown into a self-reliant adult, your inner protector still uses the same anxiety warning-system that used to keep you safe. Why? That’s the next key.
Your inner protector needs an update:
During your early years, the protective aspect of your mind worked tirelessly to find answers to three crucial questions:
- Who do I need to be and what do I need to do to be safe?
- How can I avoid getting rejected?
- How do I get love and attention?
Depending on your circumstances, this inner protector may have figured out that you need to be quiet and invisible to not get in harm’s way. Or, that you need to please others or be an over-achiever to not get rejected. Or, that it is better to accept that you won’t get love and approval, rather than being continuously disappointed. Based on its observations and interpretations, this part of your mind established core beliefs, which, like railings on a walkway, are supposed to secure your journey through life. While beliefs such as ‘I am not safe,’ ‘I don’t belong,’ ‘I am not good enough’ or ‘I don’t deserve to be loved or to be happy,’ may have served you when you were small, as an adult they became obstacles – and major roots of your anxiety. Outgrowing your anxiety means to identify and replace the self-limiting core beliefs that made you see yourself and the world still through the prism of your childhood.
Anxiety is not your identity:
Like most, your anxiety may have been initially triggered by topics such as not feeling good enough, change, potential loss of control or not feeling safe in the world. The problem is, once you have been anxious for some time or even had a panic attack, chances are that a second form of anxiety emerges, which is the anxiety of feeling anxious again. This is when you wake up in the morning, already worrying whether you have to deal, once again, with your heart-pounding, your chest tightening up or your mind spinning. Eventually, you become so consumed with constantly analyzing your levels of anxiety that you identify yourself with this emotion. Anxiety becomes your emotional default setting and you forget that you have many other feelings at your disposal. Like your physical body needs stretching when it has become rigid and tight, help your mind expand into more positive emotions such as gratitude, hope, optimism and compassion. For this, think about times in your life when you felt positive, peaceful, grateful or even happy. Go back down the memory lane and remember what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted and sensed during these times. Tap into these pleasant feelings, which are stored in your mind, and thus gently shift your mind’s focus away from what you want to avoid – being anxious – towards what you want to experience instead.
On my next episode of Empowerment Radio, I will also talk about the role of anger, patience, your environment, self-care and leadership in overcoming anxiety. Join me on Thursday, January 2nd at 9AM PT / noon ET and learn more keys on how to be anxiety-free in 2020. You may also join in, and comment on Facebook Live.
Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed new year, with an abundance of health, peace, growth, happiness and love.