The transformational nature of anxiety

the transformational nature of anxiety

The transformational nature of anxiety

Growing up in India, one of the key life lessons my young mind had picked up was ‘you are never safe’.
I used to wake up every morning with a knot in my stomach, my heart racing, feeling nauseous and filled with an awful amount of fear.
I believed that the feelings I was waking up with were normal and there was nothing I could do about them. Any thoughts about my future would increase these feelings by tenfold.
I tried to live a very controlled life and battled, suppressed, reacted and hid from these uneasy ‘normal’ feelings for many years.
When I moved to New Zealand at the age of twenty-two, perhaps it was the debilitating loneliness, change in perspective, courage to move to a new country on my own or all of the above, I found the strength to finally come face to face with what I had been dealing with for much of my young life – ANXIETY.
I unsuccessfully spent the next few years doing everything in my power to overcome anxiety.
One day, while I was in the middle of overcoming another anxiety attack, I heard a voice within me say something I had often felt growing up ‘you are never safe’.
I dismissed it to be nothing more than memories of my childhood. My mind playing tricks, I thought, simply trying to keep me stuck in my uncomfortable familiarity.
But I noticed that ‘you are never safe’ was repeated to me every time I tried to overcome my anxious thoughts, every time I tried to react, suppress or battle with anxiety.
And then it struck me like a bolt of lightning.
I never feel safe when I am trying to overcome anxiety.
Why?

Anxiety is an emotion.

Anxiety is one of the core colours of a rainbow of emotions that make up our human existence. And no one is spared.
You cannot overcome it. You can only learn how to manage it.
Just like every other emotion, anxiety speaks to you through your feelings. It is your body’s way of communicating to you what it needs in order to be the best vehicle for your personal/spiritual growth as you journey through life.
So, I began to honour anxiety when it came up and focused on exploring the transformational power, purpose and reason for its visitation.
My journey to understand anxiety has been a very humbling experience.
There are no hard and fast rules to deal with anxiety. But based my own experience, when you make time to listen to the wisdom it brings forth, you will be able to honour its presence in the most non-threatening way and release it.
I have listed below some of my own methods to help you connect with and transform anxiety to empower your life.
(Please ensure that you have explored any physical ailments that may be contributing to the anxious feelings.)
1. Do you trust yourself? Do you trust life?
Example: You constantly worry about not being able to cope with the potential death of a loved one.
Anxiety arises to remind you to refocus your trust in yourself so that you can connect to the experiences around you wholeheartedly. You can only control how you react to the experiences in your life, not the outcome of those experiences.
Trust that every external experience (good and bad) will only take place when you are absolutely ready to face it. And you cannot know this through your conscious mind, you can only feel it through your innate wisdom, which already exists at the very core of your being.
2. Do you feel connected with yourself?
Example: You either worry that you may never find that special person in your life or that your existing relationship may not work out.
When you are disconnected with yourself, you unconsciously rely on others to help re-establish that connection for you.  You begin to worry about everything that could stop you from regaining that connection through people/things you (choose to) rely on.  At the same time, you unconsciously put immense pressure on them and they unknowingly react to it, manifesting the very thing that you fear the most,
Anxiety acts as a reminder to make time to explore and embrace aspects of yourself that you have neglected or ignored.
When you explore the cause of your worry, you will come to realise that what you have neglected or ignored (usually aspects of yourself you are not at peace with) is directly linked to your self-worth and it is the key to re-establishing your connection with yourself.
3. Are your thoughts and goals in alignment?
Example: You want to find a new job that meets your requirements but your thoughts are focused on the fear of not being successful in finding that job or feeling that you are not good enough.
Anxiety acts as a signpost for you to reassess your thoughts and consciously bring them back to align with your goals. Focus on transforming any negative behavioural or thought patterns because your body reacts to all the messages it receives from your thoughts.
When your thoughts and goals are not in alignment, your body lets you know by bringing up feelings of anxiety. We think its negative because it doesn’t feel good. But when has any transformation taken place when everything is comfortable and going according to plan?
                                                                                                                                
4. Are you focusing on the bigger picture?
Example: You feel that if you are not always in control, everything in your life will fall apart.
Anxiety serves again by asking you to explore your perspective on life.
What you think your world is, is only a fragment of the universe that exists in and around you. Focus on slowly expanding your ‘vision’ to include all that you think you cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel.
Bring awareness in everything that you do and observe if your actions, thoughts, feelings, environment, people, places etc are connected to each other and connected to something bigger than you.
When you understand that everything is interconnected, you will feel immensely supported. And just like a trapeze artist during a performance, when you need to let go, there will always be an (in)visible net of support waiting to catch your fall.
Let go and trust this connected energy. It exists purely to support the world and since you are an integral part of the world, you are, without a doubt, supported too.
5. Have you made peace with the concept of change?
Example: You have just moved to a new country and are anxious about what is in store for you.
Buddhist’s believe that life is suffering. But they also say that it is not so much that life itself is suffering as much as our expectations of life are what cause the suffering.
Anxiety comes up when you are uneasy with the unknown. It asks you to review your attachments to your expectations and teaches you to make peace with the process of life.
When you keep an open mind and a willing heart, the mysterious future will only unfold in ways that will benefit your life. It may not unfold according to your attachments but it will certainly unfold based on your good intentions.
NOTE – Exercise, deep breathing, speaking to someone, good food and sleep are excellent ways to ease anxiety, but if it persists then a little self exploration and seeking professional help goes a long way.
How does anxiety serve a purpose in your life? What have you learnt from anxiety? How can you use anxiety as a catalyst for change?
No Comments

Post A Comment

Free Guide To Exploring Loss Through Journalling (includes 24 prompts to get you started)