Welcome to my Late December/Early January blog post, a post that I consider to be frank and hard talking but honest and true.
This post is about increasing your awareness of the fact that you must recognise that you have a responsibility in taking action to calm your anxiety symptoms.
This post is about ACTION not stagnation, waiting or sitting hopeless because however bad this feeling feels you are really not hopeless and your anxiety still cannot stop you doing anything YOU DO.
Please take a minute to sit with that and digest what I have just said as it is very true.
The fact you have anxiety is not your fault but you do have the choice and ability to change your perceptions and behaviours towards your anxiety and to take action to create the life you would like to have going forwards.
The feelings of anxiety and panic may feel overwhelming but the fact is they cannot stop you taking action to reverse behaviours that are no longer working for you and creating how you would like things to be going forwards.
It is a choice to stay stuck and it is a choice to keep performing the habitual behaviours whatever they may be for you, that help you to avoid this feeling and to stay with the feeling of powerlessness.
One of the most common things that I often hear from clients or followers of It’s just a feeling who contact me is something like ‘I have read and researched anxiety and I already know everything there is to know about it, so why has it not gone away’ or ‘It still stops me doing anything’ ‘ It just comes to get me’ ‘ I am helpless to it’
Let me give an example which includes my fear monster creation (who is your anxiety in a visual form). A friend calls me and invites me for a coffee, I say yes, I will go but I am anxious. My Fear Monster appears and says things like ‘Oh my goodness, if you go to your friends for coffee you will feel anxious and then boy will you be sorry. I am talking being unable to breathe, collapse (and other imaginings which are equally as horrible) but, I ask you can my Fear Monster physically stand in front of the door and stop me leaving the house? No because he is not real.
So who does stop me leaving the house? I do.
This is the fact, just take time to reflect on this. You stop you, through fear of feeling fear, but that is exactly what needs to happen in order for you to leave your fear behind. Hypothetically, you are driving your car.
Feeding your doubts by pouring over and over the same information won't help you, it just makes anxiety even more of a focus ensuring it will stay. Putting the right information into action will help. Exploring who you and making sense of your past and your responses will help.
But I do get that when something feels so awful you are on a mission to solve it and make things feel better for yourself, but this way is not the way.
The way out of these feelings are not about continuously researching anxiety a million times in the hope that will in some way take this away. That is not the answer. All this does is cause rumination, (mind going around in circles and not ever coming to a conclusion which is a key component in keeping anxiety alive), and rumination will keep you stuck. The way out is to do the work on getting to know yourself and then dealing with the habitual behaviours of the anxiety habit, this is the way out of the prison.
Yet, you may keep reading, keep researching, join forums, compare yourself to others and fill yourself with knowledge (most of the time poor knowledge sourced from poor sources) whilst remaining hopeful that one day the secret, the answer will suddenly be found that will rid you of this horrible feeling forever while you just sit and wait.
What can be ironic too is that the more you read, the higher the chance you will read things that make you doubt more and feel worse! It really is a self-defeating cycle.
Meanwhile, you may continue to protect yourself from the feelings using behaviours that limit any situation or person that may cause you to feel these feelings and your mind is almost continuously thinking of anxiety which will ensure that your anxiety stays.
This cycle is self-defeating, while we are performing the actions, we feel like we are ‘doing something’ that may ‘get rid’ of this thing that happens to us. In a strange way it feels almost productive, if we ‘do something’. What we are actually doing is focusing entirely on anxiety and still performing behaviours that keep us stuck which is actually having the opposite effect to climbing out, we are actually climbing further in! Digging a deeper and more solid rigid hole to sit inside of!
As I mentioned one of the things, I most hear in my role is ‘right I know everything there is to know, now I need you to tell me what to do and I will be ok then’ but there is much more to this that that. It is about exploring your life experiences, your thoughts and opinions, who you are. This will enable you to connect with yourself and enable you to begin to understand why you feel fear and to develop the ability to stand back from it, then you can deal with the habit which I believe to be the surface symptoms to what is really going on underneath.
During my own journey, it took me a long time to understand this, but once I did, I began to make real progress.
If you wait for the day in which you feel better before taking action, believe me you will be waiting a very long time. Regardless of how this started, there is only you that can recognise that you do have some responsibility in moving forward to creating the life you wish to have and this is not going to go away until you do. It is a choice and action that you must take and it really is the only way.
For me, I came to realise that really I needed to invest in my mental health by using therapy over time to begin to make sense of who I was whilst also dealing with the maladaptive coping strategies (strategies that seem to work to avoid my feelings, but actually make things much worse in the long run)
I had implemented strategies which I believed would quickly dissolve my fear such as avoidance, which in the short term helped but really it was limiting my life more and more and making things much worse for me in the longer term.
My self protection methods to protect me from my own feelings which had surfaced as anxiety, I then reinforced myself through the choices I was making to avoid my fear and this kept me hopeless and stuck.
Give this some thought, each day gives you a fresh chance to approach this in a different way to the way in which you may already be doing that is not working for you. It is never too late to take responsibility for your mental health.
It maybe time to stop reading and start doing.
May I take this opportunity to wish all followers and clients of it's just a feeling a very happy and healthy new year.
Until my next blog,