I have found understanding how anxiety "works" is a key component in dealing with it. Once we understand it, we are able to "deal" with it effectively. And we are also better able to be compassionate toward ourselves and others.
Here's how I understand the anxiety.
Something (situation) or someone (person) outside our control provokes us. What or who provokes us is the "trigger".
I use quotes around the word trigger because when we dive deeper into our subconscious we realize the trigger is actually a belief that no longer serves us. More on that another time!
Let's take an example of a trigger:
Example: Family Gathering
In this case both the gathering (something/situation) and family (someone/person/people) may be at play.
Even before we get to the gathering, we start to feel anxiety in the present.
Our thoughts and emotions start gaining (usually negative) momentum as we project into the "future" what we "think" will happen based on the "past".
Why does this happen (write this one down!)?
The mind doesn't know the difference between a real event happening now, or an imagined event, either past or future.
Once we are "triggered", what happens next?
2. Behavior - Mental & Emotional
We may feel contracted, jittery, confused, angry, fearful, overall, not good! These emotions feed our thoughts. We think things such as, "this is going to be miserable", "I don't want to see this person", etc, etc. We get ourselves all worked up because the thoughts we are having in the present, about the past, we are now projecting into the future. These negative/catastrophic type thoughts that are rooted in past experience cause us to think the future experience will be the same. These thoughts continue to feed our feelings and voila, we are officially in the anxiety loop. There's "nowhere" to go when we are in this loop except deeper down the rabbit hole. We may act out by not going to the gathering at all (avoiding behavior) or create drama (attacking behavior) leading up to or even at the gathering.
Note: Other avoidance behaviors include abusing alcohol & drugs, smoking, overworking, overeating, etc.
Why do we do this to our self?
Wouldn't it make sense to simply learn healthy and effective ways to deal with our "triggers"? Yes!
However, until we rewire our brain, the trigger elicits a behavior that feels like a reward/payoff.
In this case of the family gathering, if we take the avoidance track, the "payoff" can be anything from making others wrong, now we are victims -- to the attacking track with a payoff of we are right and defending our point of view. There are many more variations of this and our payoffs. That said, usually the payoff is connected to being right, looking good, staying comfortable, and being in control (AKA Ego). Once again I use quotes around the word payoff because in truth it isn't a true reward. We still haven't faced the root of the anxiety. We have merely put a band aid on it. Is this starting to sound familiar?
Learn how to deal with the anxiety "trigger".
Keep in mind "trigger" can also be our thoughts about the never ending to do lists at home, at work...in life as well as comparing ourselves to others. Our triggers vary and are many!
How to Deal:
1. Presence / Awareness
I use the words presence and awareness interchangeably. For me these words means being aware of what is happening in the present moment without resistance or judgment. Meaning, we accept what we are thinking and feeling, even if we don't like it. We are observing our experience.
Until we are aware of and accept this anxiety loop, nothing will change.
Once the energy of resistance and judgment is freed up, we consciously choose to focus our attention on dealing with the anxiety loop. The trigger is there, at least for now. Accept it.
Now it's time to re-evaluate the payoff. Is it really a payoff?
Ask yourself if avoiding or attacking behavior is really what feels good? Is that how you want to live? Avoiding or attacking? Perhaps there is a better way. Ask yourself if you can be absolutely sure, meaning 100% sure the payoffs are working for you. Spoiler alert: it's likely these payoffs are also directing other areas of your life.
If you can find even a .00000001% chance that there is a better way keep reading.
Even a sliver of possibility that there is a better way to manage the anxiety loop is an incredible start. Good for you! Acknowledge yourself for that. In this step you get to redirect your attention on things such as observing your experience, being compassionate with yourself (and others!) and changing your relationship with those payoffs. Meaning, you realize they are not in fact payoffs. In truth these "payoffs" actually keep you trapped in the trigger and therefore the anxiety loop.
If you resonate with this, and would like additional support on any of the above, please reach out.
I am passionate about showing people how to experience more health, happiness, and freedom to live the life of their dreams. Peaceful, prospering, connected...thriving.
Thanks for "listening". We go this!
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When we are faced with circumstances outside of our control, it may feel like an impossibility to let go.
The paradox? Letting go is exactly what we must "do".
I was remined of this last year while moving to my "dream" house. Of course, along with the "dream come true", also comes the rainstorm which reveals leaks, a dryer that decided to break, backordered everything!, and all the other logistics. It's truly small stuff in comparison to life's bigger challenges.
One of the ways I "trick" my mind into letting go is by asking myself the below 3 questions.
Since inner peace is a way of being many of us want to experience, this exercise works quite well.
1. Do I wish to experience inner peace or conflict?
Inner peace, of course!
Note: Some of us still like being in conflict...it provides a distraction of sorts and gives us an excuse not to take responsibility for what is and/ or our present life situation. Some of us are in conflict and don't even know it. All have been true for me. It's part of the human condition at times. It's up to us to be aware and then make the choice again and again to accept what is. Once we do accept, all the energy we were using to "resist" is freed up and we are able think clearly and choose a better way...
2. What am I willing to do in order to experience inner peace?
Be open to trying things that support a peaceful way of living. There are many things/ tools we can do/ use: books, meditation, a mentor, energy work, prayer, workshops, podcasts... I do all of this and then some :) The point is, I am willing to do what it takes to live a peaceful life. Over time, we may need more or less of these things/ tools based on what we are facing in life. More stressful times = more support. Make sense?
3. Who must I become to experience inner peace?
Become a student of inner peace. Know thyself. Use the tools above.
Today, right now, begin to practice: acceptance, non-judgment, non-attachment, presence, compassion... and the big one - forgiveness.
Enjoy the process... yes, all of it. I am always surprised at how quickly my inner state (and therefore my mind) can shift when I am willing to enjoy life. I become re-energized, enthusiastic, and see opportunity everywhere!
WE GOT THIS!
If you want support, email me.
Many of us are experiencing the fatigue that comes with life -- and life transitions. With fatigue often comes other emotions that can derail us like frustration, lack of clarity...feeling disconnected and afraid.
How do we handle life and life transitions with courage, grace and curiosity?
First, slow down! You might be thinking that's impossible with "so much to do".
As the summer winds down we must as well.
The "transitions" we and our loved ones are experiencing can be related to back to school, back to work, back to life in perhaps a "new" way.
If we aren't mindful we will take on both what they are feeling in addition to what we are feeling!!! Yup, it's "a lot".
As I've written about in the past, especially as it relates to "anxious energy", at times it is hard to discern what we are feeling and where / who it is coming from!
In addition, times of transition and change often bring about this "anxious" energy. While it's not always pleasant, the discomfort that comes with newness and the unknown is normal!
And yes, it's healthy. Rest assured, you are not alone. It is simply part of being human :)
What else can we do?
Embrace ways of being that return us to a state of emotional balance...also known as equanimity.
As I talk about in Chapter Two of my book Reclaiming JOY, the emotional roller coaster is not sustainable and keeps us stuck. We react and often cause more turmoil.
This simple practice, called BRFWA, (that we love and use often at the Sanctuary) brings us back to a relaxed state - where we focus on "being" and bring our emotions back in balance.
From this place of emotional balance or equanimity, we are able to ride the emotional wave without drowning in it / losing ourselves for too long. In equanimity we find our way back to peace and clarity and perhaps even a chuckle. Once clear, we are able to take clear, focused action that keeps us on the path of peace as we move toward our goals.
BRFWA Explained (Give yourself at least 3-5 minutes to experience this).
Breathe: As a wave of emotion comes over you, slow down your breath.
Allow your breath to flow freely in and out.
Relax: As you slow down your breath, your mind and body will begin to relax.
Soften your muscles, let go of mental and physical tension.
Feel: As you relax, you are able to soften into what you are feeling.
Stay open to the sensations and emotions moving through you in this moment.
Watch: While feeling, you watch your experience closely, neither grasping what is pleasant nor pushing away what is painful.
Allow: As you watch, you allow the process to unfold.
You accept yourself and your experience exactly as it is, dropping the need to change it in any way.
BRWFA is the practice of being present.
Being present is what we learn during meditation.
Looking for more support?
Consider cultivating an on-going meditation practice or booking Sanctuary TLC.
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