Anxiety is really important. But it’s not a disorder, or a condition, it’s an emotion. It’s the emotion that helps us direct our attention towards the important things. It’s done a lot for us over the years and if we were without it we’d be one emotion short of a full set and that really would be a disorder!
The word disorder in this context simply means a confusion in your mind. This in itself doesn't sound so scary, and yet we are often terrified of the prospect of our high anxiety levels getting diagnosed as a dreaded disorder. It implies that we are in some way untreatable and now have a condition of permanence that will require managing for the rest of our life. This is when we start to treat anxiety as the enemy or the part of us that we just don't want anymore.
The thing is we all feel anxiety to some degree on pretty much a daily basis, and it is not always severe.
Anxiety is sometimes just that part of us that nudges us to remind us to do something fairly trivial like take the rubbish out and it might do it so quietly that we barely recognise it as anxiety. But this is what’s so great about it…it doesn’t need to shout to be heard.
The problem comes when we have been anxious about something for a while and that voice keeps getting louder. It gets loud because the thing it is trying to draw your attention to isn’t getting changed. It’s just sitting there as a thing that we’re not happy about. Then the anxiety thinks it isn't being heard.
If that part of your mind isn’t getting heard it will talk louder.
If it still isn't getting heard it might think it has to shout. If it continues to be ignored it might start screaming. The problem then is that all the other parts of your mind that need to get heard about everyday trivial things have to shout just as loudly to get heard. Suddenly we are feeling ridiculously anxious about the most stupid things that never seemed that important before.
Now, getting the volume of your anxiety down is achievable just by communicating a better message to that part of your subconscious…BUT…there’s no point in doing this if we think that we are trying to get rid of anxiety all together, because that’s neither practical nor helpful.
Let’s face it, it’s not human.
But if we think any anxiety we feel means we are getting ill again then as soon as we feel everyday normal levels of anxiety about something, we respond with concern and worry that our anxiety is coming back.
Guess what that causes?
There's a very simple truth behind all of this that we really shouldn't be afraid of:
Feeling anxious is normal.
If we feel it at high levels it feels like we are on the trading floor of the stock exchange with everyone screaming at each other and as a result nobody really getting heard. Our mind should feel more like a library where every whisper can get noticed and as a result understood.
But it will never be silent.
The point of your mind being quiet is so that these messages can be heard. If you have suffered anxiety in the past and you wake one morning feeling anxious…that just means you are human and your mind is trying to draw your attention to something that requires action.
So pay attention to it and hear the message it’s trying to deliver.
Stop blocking it out.
Stop trying to ignore it.
It’s nothing to be afraid of, and it doesn’t mean you’re ill.
You should never be trying to eradicate anxiety. You should be seeking to control it.
You control it by listening to it. Then, when its message has been heard, it might even start listening to YOU.
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