I used to suffer from chronic anxious thoughts on a daily basis.
Whenever anything in my life was even slightly changing, I was struck with such intense panic and worry that it affected me physically with migraines, stomach pain and insomnia.
But not anymore.
I’ve learned the trick that keeps my anxious thoughts at bay. What is it?
Well, let me tell you a story first.
I spent a lot of attention, time and energy a few months ago applying feng shui practices to my home. That meant decluttering and moving furniture around to redefine spaces.
And I felt a lot of anxiety throughout the process.
It was like my body was resisting the changes and the newness I was creating in my life. It was as if an alarm was going off somewhere inside my head to awaken the anxiety:
“Quick, man your stations! She’s about to make changes! We must protect her!”
Welcoming abundance into our lives (in whatever form), even adding a positive energy flow to your home is a total shift in perception. It’s a big change.
And anxiety definitely doesn’t like change.
So the anxious part of me kept freaking out, desperately trying to shut down what it thought was one big whacky operation. The anxious thoughts began as soon as we started moving furniture:
“Why would you want to change a thing about the house? It’s good enough as it is. Change is horrible and scary. Don’t do it! Nooooo!”
The old me would have let the anxiety overcome my thoughts until the nervous and worry-filled feelings became so intense that I was practically paralyzed with indecision. Should the sofa go here? No wait, it should go over there. Actually, maybe it would be best if it was in that room and we moved the bookshelf over here instead. Ugh, let’s just think about it for a while before we move anything.
Then my husband and I would have likely given up on the whole feng shui project—with much frustration and disappointment.
But I’ve learned better. I now know how to handle—and even embrace—my anxiety.
So this time around, as my heart was beating fast, my chest felt like it was getting heavier and my thoughts were spinning out of control, I simply said,
That’s right. I thanked my anxiety.
Because, really, anxiety is just the part of you that is trying to keep you safe. It’s the part of you that’s very scared and worried and doesn’t want you to get hurt.
So I thanked my anxiety for its concern. I told it I heard its thoughts. I said things in my head like
“Thank you so much for loving me so deeply that you want to protect me. I hear you. I appreciate you. I love you.”
Then I added more to this inner dialogue:
“I am safe. No matter what happens, I will be okay. Thank you.”
Next, I asked it politely to leave, but only when it was ready.
“You can go now. I’ve got this. Thank you.”
Forcing the anxiety out is futile because that would just make it hold on even tighter to me, fighting for attention because it feels unheard and unloved (in other words, one gigantic panic attack headed my way).
The thing is, anxiety will never completely go away. But with some love and attention, it eases its desperate grip so that you can drive this life of yours.
After this inner dialogue with my anxiety, including thanking that anxious part of me and affirming that I’m safe (despite evidence of decluttering, furniture moving and opening up to new possibilities), the anxiety subsided.
No struggle. No breakdown. No panic attack. Just acceptance and love for every part of me.
Want to try it? Here’s how you can thank your own anxiety and ease those worrisome thoughts and feelings:
1. Take many (many!) deep breaths to help calm your body.
2. Clear your mind as best you can under the circumstances, sometimes by repeating thoughts like “My mind is clear” or “I’m calm and relaxed.” Or you could count to a certain number (I happen to like the number four) several times.
3. Tell your anxiety that you are safe. And that change is okay. And that no matter what, everything will work out for the best.
Because it will.
Author: Dina Overland
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren