If you regularly suffer from severe anxiety, you probably refer to yourself as ‘having anxiety.’ Perhaps you even hold back from putting yourself in certain situations for fear that you might ‘get anxiety.’ Like it is a life-threatening disease, rather than a difficult emotion. You might find yourself saying to a friend, ‘I can’t drive on the freeway. My anxiety might come up.’ MY anxiety. Do we refer to our experiences of joy as ‘MY joy?’ Or ‘my gratitude?’ No! Of course not! We simply choose to personally identify with the emotions that make us feel less than, rather than those that lift us up. While this is a normal way of relating to anxiety, I want to challenge you to shift this thought process.
It’s important to reframe the experience of anxiety and stop identifying so heavily with it. Anxiety is simply an emotional state that manifests in the body and mind. Like all emotions, it is, by nature, impermanent and subject to change at any moment. Anxiety is no stronger than any other difficult emotion, but we grant it tremendous power because, like most difficult emotions, it manifests quite tangibly in the body and the mind.
For instance, sadness and anger are every bit as powerful as anxiety, but we are simply more comfortable with the physical experiences they provoke. They are somehow more socially acceptable, largely because they don’t render us totally incapacitated when they arise. Most of us know how to suppress these emotions. Some of us may even know how to skillfully channel and transform them.
An Energetic Transformation
Anxiety, however, cannot be suppressed. Nor should it. Whenever it comes up, we have to fearlessly look it in the eye and experience it in its totality. I want to help you get comfortable doing this, knowing that you have the tools to address the mental, emotional and physical experiences that arise.
Most of us don’t fully realize that we can be the master of our minds and our emotions, rather than their servant. Learning the difference between feeling an emotion and being an emotion is an important distinction to make in learning how to approach anxiety in a new way. This distinction helps to create a little distance from our emotions. In meditation, this is known as ‘the attitude of the witness,’ or the ‘drashta bhav.’ This attitude of the witness allows us to see our emotions and our thoughts, without identifying with them.
In neuroscience, this is called ‘decentering.’ Developing this ability (because it is an ability, a learned skill) has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
In addition to shifting your attitude towards the ‘anxiety energy,’ there are many ways to alleviate the physical experience of the emotion, transforming it into something that serves you better.
If you struggle with anxiety and are open to shifting your perspective and gaining real tools for healing, contact me for more information on Anxiety Alchemy sessions.