Overcoming anxiety

If you’re someone who worries, well – don’t worry about it: all of us do, at one time or another.  Sometimes we worry about something particular: money, the economy, our children, our parents, our health, whether we locked the door – you know.  And then some of us get caught up in the sum total of our worries without any particular one being identifiable; we generalize our worry, and that’s what is known as anxiety.

Don’t worry, be happy. – Meher Baba

It’s true – think about it: most of the things we worry about never happen.  So why do we worry?

Programmed to worry

One reason is, we are programmed to worry; we learn it from our parents. They are not really trying to make us into worriers; their real intent is to teach us to think ahead and plan, to consider the future consequences of our actions or inactions, rather than just our momentary desires and pleasure. Remember “The Grasshopper and the Ant”? The short-sighted grasshopper wants to just have fun and play all the time, whereas the ant plans ahead and works to secure his future. And when the winter comes, the grasshopper starves to death while the ant is snug in his storehouse (great story to tell a little kid, right? Talk about anxiety!).


What, me worry?
Alfred E. Neuman, MAD Magazine


Unfortunately, most of our parents and grandparents are not always so great as instructors.  They teach by exaggerating the consequences. Our peers exaggerate even more, themselves conditioned to worry just like we are, reinforcing and adding to the whole mess:

  • “Picking at moles can give you cancer.”
  • "Don’t stick your hand out the car window – you might lose it.”
  • “If you don’t do your homework you’re going to flunk second grade.”
  • “Wear your sweater, or you might get pneumonia and die.”
  • “Talking to strangers will get you kidnapped and killed.”
  • “Germs are everywhere and germs make you sick.”
  • “Masturbation can make you blind.”
  • “Stand up straight – you want to be a hunchback?”


"How much have cost us the evils that never happened!” – Thomas Jefferson

Each comment suggests something terrible is going to happen, a disaster. Then there’s the message that we have to control what happens to us.

By the time we reach puberty, many of us have been conditioned to worry as a part of life. We also learn that we do not have control over many things in life. Those of us who have not yet become worriers are subjected to redoubled efforts by our parents, who are concerned because we do not sufficiently share their own conditioned sense of impending disaster. We even learn to worry about not worrying enough. [You think not?  Imagine, for a moment, not worrying about anything, ever. How does that make you feel? Kind of uncomfortable? Dangerous? Like something really bad will happen? Do you feel obliged to worry?]


The intent is not really to make us worriers, only planners. But most people – most parents – are simply not very skillful at this and often don’t distinguish between worrying and planning.  So we wind up prone to worrying. When we cannot identify that worried feeling with any one event, we are suffering from anxiety.

Control

A lot of our worrying is a futile attempt at control. There are lots of potential disasters out there: financial collapse, nuclear war, natural disasters, terrorists, dirty hands. Somehow it seems better to worry about what might happen, playing out different scenarios in our minds, than not thinking about it at all. You start worrying about bills, then about running out of money, and pretty soon you’re thinking about how you’re going to cope with being in a homeless shelter.

The Positive Intent

If we could plan for everything that could possibly happen, we would have nothing to worry about. But we know that is impossible: there are way too many eventualities to plan for all of them, more than we can possibly anticipate or even imagine. In many cases we simply do not know what’s going to happen, or even what might happen. We may even begin to worry about what we might have missed, which, once again, is anxiety.


"The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within that endangers him, not the storm without.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trust!

How can we get around anxiety, this generalized, nondescript fear?  Learn to trust.


  • Most of the things you have worried about in your life never happened.
  • Most of the things you might want to worry about happening in the future will not actually happen.

Learning to trust that most of your fears will not be realized frees you from the obligation of worrying about them.


When you find yourself starting to worry about something, ask, Are there aspects of this that I can plan for?


If there are, then plan – take the necessary steps.

Let’s say you worry about running out of money. Is this a long-term problem or short-term. If short-term, how can you get a loan to tide you over? If it is a long-term problem, you think of ways to reduce your spending or increase your income (or both). You get a second job; you change jobs; you get some training; you find ways to bring in more customers.


Say you worry about a meltdown at a nuclear power plant. You join an organization that is working to improve safety regulations, or perhaps one that’s trying to abolish nuclear power plants altogether. And knowing you are doing all you can, trust that if something does happen, you will know what to do.


For the rest, for all the eventualities that you cannot anticipate or plan for, learn to trust.  Trust in your and others’ intelligence and ability to cope, on the spot.  A beautiful definition of human intelligence is [to] continuously create and use new precise responses that exactly match and successfully handle [each] new situation which we confront.  – Harvey Jackins, The Human Side of Human Beings


Lean to trust that, confronted with an actual situation, you and others will be able to figure out what to do, to deal with it effectively.
The word learn is important here: understanding is a start, but is in no way enough.  We have been conditioned to worry from an early age; we must unlearn these responses and learn new ones.

Quantum Focusing

As you practice Quantum Focusing, you will probably find that you automatically worry less. If you have suffered from general states of anxiety in the past, they have most likely become less severe already. As you continue to practice, you will find that you have power over more aspects of your life than you ever realized. You are developing a greater sense of control over your life.  You find you feel less need to worry. You are becoming confident that things are going to go your way.

Core Transformation

Core Transformation is a gentle yet powerful process for bringing about profound and lasting changes in habits, behaviors, limiting beliefs, and even physical ailments.  You start with a feeling, a thought, or a behavior that you want to change or explore, and through a series of stages, you reach a core state – a high-level existential state or spiritual (for example, oneness, beingness, peace, being one with God).  Now you assume this core state as your way of being, your mode of existence, and your whole perspective changes.  In reverse order, each of the stages going up is now changed, illuminated, or enhanced, and the original feeling, thought, or behavior has been replaced or radically transformed.  Running the process on each worrisome thought can be transformative.

Anti-Anxiety Toolkit

This new book by Melissa Tiers will teach you powerful and rapid ways to reduce excessive fear, worry, and anxiety.  Utilizing the latest research in neuroscience and mind-body medicine, you’ll learn how to rewire your brain and change habituated patterns as you empower yourself with the most cutting-edge and easy-to-apply processes available.


Partially based on “Conquering Anxiety”, Chapter 12 in How to Get Unstuck – A Light-Hearted, Self-Hypnosis Workbook, by Michael Ellner, D.D., MSH, CHt and Alan Barsky, CHt, MH

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Comments: 1
  • #1

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