Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? I get it. I’ve been there – many times. I don’t have it always, but when it comes on, I want to get rid of it, and fast. Like everything else, that affects our mental health, there are different levels of anxiety. There is acute panic symptoms which can be accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate, rapid breathing. Then there’s the long-term generalized anxiety – that uneasy feeling that seems to hang around more often than not, like termites gnawing at your insides. Anxiety can manifest as specific fears, which can be about anything.
We are programmed from an early age to be fearful. “Don’t step on a crack, or you will break your mother’s back.” As we grow, we continue to hear messages of fear. We cannot turn on the news without some fearful message plastered across our computer or television. We also accumulate trauma which our bodies want to us to face in order to heal. No matter how many years have passed, our bodies always present us with the bill.
It has been my experience that anxiety is a cover up, a warning, a message that something is lurking beneath the surface. Something is trying to get our attention. The more we resist, the more anxious we become.
Well before the feelings of anxiety erupt, the seeds of denial, avoidance or repression are planted. Seeds grow, and over time, and it is natural for the seed to want to break through the surface and find the sun. Whatever we are repressing from our awareness, trying not to think about or feel, is attempting to break through the surface.
When the seedling wants to find the light, it is like a pot of water, boiling, with a lid rattling against the top. If we remove the lid, the steam and bubbles are free to just be. But if we keep the lid on – it will rattle us to the core.
Whether we feel anxiety or fear, here is what has helped me. It is a process that involves 5 steps – changing our state, becoming curious, allowing what arises to be felt or known, surrendering, honoring our truth. If we are in an acute state of panic, breathing and other techniques will help so we can feel calm enough to go through these five steps.
- Changing our state with gratitude – if we are busy focusing on what we are thankful for, we are giving our mind something to focus on other than fearful thoughts. I like to play the Gratitude Alphabet Game. I start with A, and think about all the things I am thankful for that begin with A. Then, I move to B, and so on. Somewhere along the way, I begin to feel calmer.
- Surrender control – anxiety and fears worsen, when we try to control, manage or stuff it down. It is like holding down the pot lid, when it wants to come off.
- Curiosity – anxiety and fear cannot coexist with curiosity. I ask my self what is this really about? Where in my body am I feeling the most anxious? What is behind this anxiety?
- Allowing – whether is it an awareness, memory of feeling, I let it come to me without judgment. Let it be there and stay as long as it likes.
Here is the final step. I separate it because it has become the most important step for me to grasp.
5. I honor and love all of me – every quirk, feeling, thought, behavior; every weird bit of me. Every anxious thought and feeling.
Once I welcome it all with love, allow it come into the fold of me, it dissipates.
Let me explain.
It was a few years ago, when my intuitive gifts began to emerge. I was talking with a woman who was telling me her dog was limping – that she thought she must have hurt her leg while chasing horses on their farm. I heard the words “She has Lyme Disease.” I said nothing because I thought it was strange and I had no idea why I heard that. I left without telling her what I heard. Over the course of the day, the anxiety began to build. It got so bad, it was not until I went back and told her what came into my mind that the anxiety dissipated and I felt calm and peaceful again. Turned out, her dog had Lyme.
This happened again and again. Images, thoughts, gut feelings, song lyrics, messages – kept coming into my awareness without my asking. Because I am stubborn, I kept resisting. I didn’t like them. I thought it was weird, and I didn’t want to be weird.
Eventually, I gave in. What I realized is, whether I like it or not, I am an empath. I have intuitive gifts. I can hear messages from beyond my body. I see images in my mind’s eye. I can feel someone who has already passed away and what they need me to hear, and they sure have a lot to say. I can also feel what someone is feeling who is sitting beside me on the bus, or across the world. Animals tell me about their families, preferences and their feelings. Like anxiety, I used to think my empathic gifts were a curse, now I know they are a blessing. It came down to a choice. Honor who I am, or feel anxious.
My advice is to let your feelings, thoughts, memories out! Say it, write it down, honor the truth. If you were not ready to hear it, feel it, know it, you would not be feeling anxious. Anxiety is always a gift. It encourages us to go inward, express ourself, feel and acknowledge our feelings and our true self.
We can look at anxiety, as a gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudge. Change is about becoming uncomfortable, but change also leads us to a life we have only dreamt about – a life of abundance, peace, joy and love. Coming out with who we are, speaking the truth about our past and our self, feeling everything, promotes peace and well-being.
I used to pray to figure out my life’s purpose, why I was here. I didn’t expect to be an empath, an intuitive guide, an animal communicator. I was thinking it would be more like – opening up a coffee/book store, a business professional or serving drinks under a cabana on the beach.
Finding my purpose is where I have found peace. And anxiety got me there. Now, I am grateful to find, not the road less travelled, but the road I am meant to travel.