5.3
January 17, 2018

Why Empaths & Highly Sensitive people Suffer with Chronic Anxiety.

Anxiety sucks—literally.

It can suck our energy dry—and unfortunately, it is a common ailment in empaths and those who are highly sensitive.

Anxiety manipulates and tricks us with its many clandestine tactics. We can be fooled into feeling afraid, when in reality, there often is nothing to fear. Anxiety can become so chronic that it drains every ounce of pleasure from our lives.

When we are anxious, social situations can be a minefield, as our brain can automatically revert to fight-or-flight mode; so we feel as though there is a real threat of impending danger. This causes a surge of adrenaline to be released, which prepares us to cope with whatever perceived danger we are confronted with.

However, when too much adrenaline is pumped out on a regular basis, we are left feeling wired and fraught with anxiety—because essentially there is no real danger, so we do not use up the chemicals now flushing through our bodies.

The buildup of adrenaline leaves us on the outlook for a potential threat, and it can send our minds into overdrive looking out for negative situations that may be lying in wait.

We can also become filled with anxiety due to picking up immeasurable amounts of emotional debris from our environment, leaving us anxious, debilitated, and emotionally wrung out as we are soaking up so much emotional energy. Not only do we think we are in some kind of danger, but we are also being bombarded with energy from every angle, due to being highly sensitive and absorbent of energy; we take in everything and anything from our surrounding environment.

Empaths and highly sensitive people don’t just pick up on the energy from our immediate surroundings—we can also become overwhelmed due to consciously (or unconsciously) tapping into the emotional trauma going on at any time or any place in the world. This means that we may also absorb other people’s anxiety from far and wide and feel it as our own. So if we are already anxious due to personal circumstances, this can compound the anxiety further.

When we can clearly identify our own emotions from other people’s, we will be able to separate ourselves from external anxiety and be in a position to deal with the root cause of our own anxious feelings.

It is quite common for empaths to lie awake through the night, feeling as though they are unable to move their body or rid their mind of negativity due to either irrational or rational thoughts and excessive emotional energy. This results in overpowering bouts of anxiety. What we sometimes fail to understand is that the more attention we pay our anxiety, the stronger it becomes, and the more powerful it grows. Every emotion we experience will then be compounded by more anxious sensations. Emotions that we normally might be able to brush off or handle easily become intensified under the crippling weight that the accumulated anxiety bears down on us.

Anxiety keeps drawing energy from us until we are unproductive, exhausted, temporarily disabled, and often in emotional and physical pain. We may become afraid to go places, speak to people, make telephone calls, wear certain clothes, or eat certain foods—and our creativity can be limited. Anxiety can touch us in places we least expect, and quite often, we may not even realize that anxiety is making decisions for us. Unfortunately, being weakened by it, we may then subconsciously allow anxiety to control of our lives.

Anxiety lurks in the darkest corners of our minds—and it will pounce at any opportunity. We need to discover the root cause of it and how to eradicate it. When we get to know our emotions, we can then protect ourselves better.

Anxiety can take away huge sections of our lives and totally dominate, control, and consume us if we do not master it. Anxiety can be a warning sign of impending danger that alerts us when something is wrong, and enables the body and mind to prepare for “fight or flight.” However, severe or prolonged anxiety can cripple us to the extent that we are so fraught with emotion and flooded with chemicals that we end up feeling powerless to take any action at all. We then enter what seems like a lose-lose situation.

Unfortunately, anxiety can become an addiction—a habit, something that feels familiar. Its energy grows until we become overwhelmed, submerged, and frozen with fear. When we are in the midst of anxiety, the slightest sound or movement can startle us and propel our fearful state further. Anything within our vicinity that significantly holds a resemblance to an emotionally charged experience from the past could trigger, derail, and overpower us.

Anxiety relates to paralyzing, irrational fear, and we need to confront it head on. There will be an underlying belief somewhere deep inside of us that is signalling to gain our attention. It is important to discover what that belief is, although it is no use paying attention to it when we are in an anxious state, because our minds will never be calm enough to focus effectively. Our anxiety will get in the way of seeing it with clarity. When anxiety dissipates, that is the time to focus on whatever may be causing it.

Anxiety often begins with a small seed, such as a simple thought or feeling that triggers a forgotten past memory or experience. The more energy we give to the thought, the more powerful it becomes. The thought can then turn into an emotion, and when the emotion takes hold, it can turn into a feeling. Soon enough, this feeling can become part of our belief system and nestle deep inside causing us to fully believe in something that may be entirely irrational.

Anxiety that derives from irrational thinking is no use for anything other than to burden us. The benefits of the original thought have mostly all gone, and what is left behind is a system overly flooded with adrenaline and a brain clouded with emotionally charged chemicals, which are now unable to function effectively.

Instead of having a clear mind in times of difficulties, we have a mind racing at a thousand miles an hour with extreme, sometimes ridiculous, and often highly illogical thoughts. The mind becomes overactive, and in order to process anything rationally, it is essential that we slow things down so we stop feeding into the attack.

One of the easiest ways to combat anxiety is to alter the way we think, so that we stop instantly trusting every irrational thought that floods our mind. Anxiety stems from our subconscious mind; therefore, when we are fully conscious and existing in the present moment, anxiety cannot exist for long. As soon as we breathe into the moment, these anxious feelings quickly dissipate.

Anxiety is fear based, therefore, we need to stay still, calm the mind, concentrate on our breathing, and recognize what is causing us to feel anxious so that we can retrain our minds to think alternatively. It is like breaking a bad habit. We become so used to responding in certain ways that it starts to feel natural to continue as we always have. We need to unlearn what we have been doing, and then relearn empowering, beneficial techniques.

Simply telling ourselves to stop worrying, unfortunately, won’t work. We need to make ourselves believe that there is no need to worry. When we are in an anxious frame of mind, we are prepared for danger. Focusing more on the anxiety will add to its energy. The quickest way out of an anxiety attack is by changing the image in our minds completely. We need to start by focusing on something positive, something loving and soothing. Then, when things have calmed down, we can tiptoe back to our anxious thoughts and gently probe them to see what was causing the overreaction.

Instead of dwelling on our thoughts and allowing negative attachments to occur, we can be understanding and compassionate to ourselves—and allow our thoughts to drift along without focusing too intently on them.

I believe meditation is the greatest tool for overcoming anxiety on a long-term basis. Through meditation, we can learn to quiet our minds. When the mind is calm, we gain access to a myriad of information that tells us everything we need to know about ourselves. We can then pay attention to what is causing us distress by focusing on one emotion, feeling, or memory—and we can discover what is causing us to feel fearful.

Often, it is just what we need to rewire our minds and understand the difference between real and perceived danger. Many of our past experiences have convinced us that the world is a “dangerous place”—therefore, stepping out anywhere new can feel unsafe and even terrifying. This belief is just the conditioned mind’s perception of a situation based on past occurrences.

When we worry about what has happened (or maybe will happen), we are living in the past (or the future)—but we have no control over either. We only control the current moment—and while we are conscious in the present moment, we have the best hope of creating a future that reflects our positive attitude while letting go of the past. We cannot change it, as much as we may want to. All we can do is focus on making each moment worthwhile.

When we are harmonious, we can conserve our energy for when we need it most—rather than depleting our reserves by frantically trying to grasp onto things that are far out of reach.

The more we practice meditation, the easier it is to calm and balance our minds, so that we are less likely to experience anxiety; but if we do, we are energized and well prepared for its call. Mindfulness also helps to eliminate anxiety, as it anchors us to the present moment, so we are not carried away with what we cannot change from the past or second-guessing what may be awaiting us in the future.

Instead, we can allow every moment to exist in its own merit, so that we can make conscious decisions based on how we want to feel currently. Simple breathing exercises help to calm heavy, pounding heartbeats, and they take the racing mind away from pointless, frantic suffering caused by overthinking.

It is vital to relax the body and mind, slow them down, and focus only on how each moment feels, rather than ones from the future or past. Our anxiety is signalling that we need a time out; we need to rest, re-energise, and recuperate.

Yoga, dietary changes, cutting back on caffeine, breathing practices, and spending time outdoors can all help to take the edge off anxious thoughts. Anxiety is not always just a case of mind over matter. Not only can it be caused by emotional overload and chemical imbalances, it is also believed that anxiety can be passed on genetically. We should try not to give ourselves a hard time when we feel anxiety. We can use loving tactics when dealing with it and be considerate and gentle with ourselves.

A small, infrequent amount of anxiety is fine, as it is a coping mechanism that gears us up for when we perceive there is imminent, genuine danger. As long as we retain a healthy balance, and we don’t become overwhelmed with emotion, it can serve us well to discern the magnitude of perceived threat.

It would be amazing if we could say that anxiety can be eradicated completely; however, it is not always that simple. Anxiety can sneak in when we least expect it, hoping to engage in a disorientating toxic dynamic at any time, especially if we also suffer with insomnia.

When we know how to deal with anxiety, we can show it loving kindness, so that it becomes less powerful and is too weak to stay around for long. Having anxiety about anxiety makes things worse. We have to treat anxiety with gentleness and soothe our worries, fears, and concerns.

We just need to treat chronic anxiety like we would treat a relationship that is going through difficulties: give it a little space; focus on what makes us happy; nourish, love, and take care of ourselves emotionally, mentally, and physically; refrain from fighting with it or trying to blame or shame; think clearly; remove resentment, frustration, and all other negative emotions; forgive and forget; let go; communicate; and most of all, be kind, compassionate, and gentle.

We are all hard on ourselves at times. When we are, we can try to remember the inner child within us all who still feels scared at times and who needs to be comforted and made to feel secure. That inner child needs a huge hug, tenderness, and to be told that everything is going to be okay.

We can instantly change the critical messages we have been repeating to ourselves and think empowering, supportive thoughts that are filled with love. When we say them out loud, their vibration is stronger, and they become even more powerful. We can then start to really believe in our words and permanently replace the burnt-out cable in our internal wiring.

~

Relephant:

How being an Empath can lead to Adrenal Fatigue, Insomnia & Exhaustion.

How to Overcome Social Anxiety with Mindfulness Meditation.

~

Author: Alex Myles
Image: Pixabay
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May

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Judith Egan Jun 8, 2019 10:33am

Thank you. I’m going to print and post this article!

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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.