The other day I read an article titled “The strongest girls are the girls with anxiety.”
The gist of the piece was that young women, who struggle with anxiety but don’t let themselves get stopped by this challenge, are like warriors facing their enemy every day without a moment of peace. While I agree with the author that dealing with anxiety can be extremely difficult, the idea that we need to face and fight our emotions, is unfortunately one of the more common misunderstandings about anxiety.
As someone who had his fair share of anxiety, I completely understand how being anxious and afraid can make us feel trapped and powerless. However, the solution to overcoming anxiety isn’t to battle the invisible enemy within, but to learn to understand and resolve its root causes. When we are in physical pain, we don’t just try to suppress or ignore the uncomfortable sensations. Instead, we identify and address what causes the pain in the first place. Anxiety is a form of emotional pain, caused by deeper wounds it makes us aware of. Once we discover and resolve the subconscious roots of our anxiety, it disappears.
Every day I receive from people all over the world questions on how to overcome anxiety. You may have also wondered, why you have anxiety and how to deal with this challenging emotion. This is why this newsletter and the upcoming Empowerment Radio show, focuses on answering some of the most frequent concerns and confusions around this so important topic. The goal is to dispel the myth that anxiety is a flaw, a weakness or a disorder, which we can’t heal and thus need to learn to somehow live with.
Q: How can I leave negative experiences behind effectively? Embarrassing experiences of failure that may block me, hold me back from trying again.
A: In order to let go of negative experiences of the past, you need to understand the reason why the subconscious mind is still holding onto these memories. Situations that made us feel anxious or ashamed are often associated with a sense of confusion. “Why did this happen? Was it my fault? Is there something wrong with me?” Our subconscious mind continues to remind us of such difficult events, because it wants us to answer these questions and clear up any residual confusion. The Pattern Resolution Process allows you to consciously work with your subconscious mind to resolve and release negative emotional charges on any past events. You can find here an abbreviated version of this process.
Q: How do I address my fear of global warming? How do I counter-balance negative thoughts concerning something that I believe to be true, rather than an irrational fear?
A: When it comes to global warming, the environment, or any other issue we may be concerned about, but feel powerless to change them, we naturally feel anxious, small and out of control. Yet, it obviously doesn’t serve you to get stuck in these emotions, and it doesn’t empower you to become an agent of change.
To address these issues we need millions of agents of change, who are motivated and committed to do their part to create solutions – no matter how big or significant they may appear. Counter-balance your negative thoughts and focus on affirming that you have the awareness, that we are facing great challenges, but that you are enthusiastic to do whatever you can to make a positive difference – for example by decreasing your carbon footprint, by raising the awareness of what each of us can do, by supporting good causes etc…. Secondly, remind yourself that problems can’t be solved when we perceive them as bigger than ourselves. Therefore, you choose to stay positive, optimistic and confident. You choose to focus on your contributions and on information that is change oriented and not just fear mongering. If you want to go even further, you can choose to trust in the wisdom of the planet, which may sound a bit esoteric. But similar to trusting in the incredible adaptability of nature, we may need to have a little faith in the self-regulating and self-healing abilities of the earth in general (such as what has been recently observed in regards to the “healing” of the ozone layer).
Q: I have been dealing with burn-out and exhaustion to the extent that I passed out. Now, I am struggling constantly with anxiety and mind-racing. What can I do?
Although fear and anxiety can make us feel stuck and overwhelmed, they usually have a positive intention, which is to keep us safe. From what you’re describing it is very possible that you have been pushing yourself very hard for a long time, which eventually led to your burnout. The protective purpose of your anxiety could be, that a part of your subconscious mind wants to prevent you from going back into overdrive, because this part recognizes that you are damaging your health and well-being this way.
In addition to that, another part of you, the part that made you work hard and over-extend yourself, may now be afraid that you are ruining your career and all you have built. In other words, one of the major causes of your anxiety could be an inner conflict between a part of you that wants to protect your health and well-being – another part of you that doesn’t want you to fail. Similar to pushing the accelerator of a car and pulling the brakes at the same time, all your mind is doing right now is spinning its wheels without getting anywhere.
The Re-integration process, which is also described in The Fear and Anxiety Solution book, can help you to resolve this inner conflict and create a greater sense of harmony and wholeness. You can find an abbreviated version of this guided practice here.
Q: Can I die from a panic attack?
A: Panic attacks are a sudden onset of intense anxiety. The symptoms can be shortness of breath, heart-racing, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, trembling and shaking. After the first panic attack, most people suffer from the fear of potentially having to go through another one in the future. During a panic attack it is important to remember, that although the emotions feel intense, they won’t cause any physical harm and will eventually pass. Breathing slowly and deeply, reciting calming affirmations, talking to a friend or family member, visualizing a calm and peaceful place or simply walking outside for a couple of minutes can all decrease the intensity of the panic attack.
Many of my clients, who were suffering from sudden panic attacks, realized that they had been dealing with anxiety for quite some time. Yet, rather than acknowledging these emotions, they tried to push them aside and ignore them. In this regard you can look at panic attacks like a pressure cooker that exploded, because you have neglected your anxiety for too long.
The best way to deal with panic attacks is to address the underlying anxiety, its root causes and the triggers that cause them. In addition, avoiding alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, and over stimulation can already decrease the likelihood for another panic attack.