Updated: Jan 14, 2020
Do you ever get a sudden knot in your stomach for seemingly no reason and your mind starts to focus on all of the negative things that it possibly can? That is exactly what it felt like for me while on vacation in Jamaica last week.
In general, fear is seen as a reaction to a specific, observable danger, while anxiety is seen as a diffuse, a kind of unfocused, objectless, future-oriented fear (Barlow, 2002). Thus, fear is anxiety that is attached to a specific thing or circumstance (Horwitiz, 2013).
Despite being a generally go-with-the-flow, calm and collected type of person on the outside, I get anxious sometimes still. I get anxious because my own mind starts to sabotage me, when I start to feel like I'm not in control, specifically while I am a passenger in a vehicle.
I don’t know about you, but anxiety (fear) hits me right in the stomach. It’s a giant knot that feels like an anchor weighing me down. I can just be going about my business looking out the window, feeling pretty content with life, and then all of a sudden a negative thought creeps into my head and BAM – there’s that knot.
Isn’t it funny how things that happen in the mind can show up as physical feelings?
And as soon as this anxiety creeps in, it can consume you. I usually have a million thoughts going on in my head that I consciously control, but when I’m anxious, I become so single-minded. I can’t be productive. All I can do is dwell on the issue and watch as the time slowly creeps by.
There was a time when I let this happen for years until I finally reached a point where I was tired of having my time disrupted by these ultimately useless feelings. I wanted to get to get to the root of the problem or at least find a way to deal with my feelings more productively.
THESE FEELINGS COME AND GO.
I was feeling content at one point in time as a passenger, then a wave of dread came rolling in. Just as quickly as it came, it went away. The fact that I could clearly see that this wasn’t a permanent state was huge for me. I should know this as a practitioner and coach, however I am human too.
Often when I've been anxious, it’s because I’m thinking too far ahead in the future. I’m assuming that whatever situation I’m in right now is going to end badly. There’s this air of urgency. Like everything needs to be figured out right now.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that emotions, thoughts, and situations aren’t permanent. When I actually let this sink in, I realized that even if I experience anxiety in the future (which was undoubtedly going to happen), it wouldn’t be a permanent thing.
I began to feel free knowing that this feeling wasn’t going to stay with me forever.
TRY THIS MINDSET SHIFT:
The next time you’re feeling anxious, try to remember that you don’t have to do anything about your feelings and/or negative thoughts. You don’t actually have to fight anything or make it go away. Simply recognize this feeling as nothing more than a feeling and that you don’t have to attach any meaning to it. Trust that it will eventually quiet itself.
Now, this mindset shift isn’t going to solve your problems or help you overcome anxiety for good, but it might make your next anxious experience easier to handle.
Because I know it can be extremely difficult to shift your mindset when all you want to do is react, I have a suggestion for making this process a little simpler.
Feelings, Thoughts & Fear
The next time you’re feeling anxious, worried, or uncertain, I encourage you to take note of your feelings and thoughts. Before you start attacking yourself or another person, ask yourself what you’re feeling and why you think you’re feeling this way. Don’t go into it thinking you need to solve your problem or feel better about the situation. Just treat it as an experiment.
Ask yourself the following questions:
How might I be causing myself to suffer?
Which thoughts do I know to be true?
What information might I be missing or overlooking?
Am I assuming anything?
What is my intuition telling me?
Will this matter tomorrow?
In a year?
I also encourage you to just observe the emotion through being quiet and breathing six (6) times in through your nose and out through your mouth like this:
You take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, you blow out like you’re blowing out through a straw… and if you do this 5 seconds in 5 seconds out, with 6 to 10 breaths, you’re going to deactivate the fear response centre and that actually is going to reactivate your thinking centre in your brain so that you can move on to a calm state.
Fear is a neurological response to real or imagined threat. Most of the time it’s imagined because of something happening in your memory bank that you’ve read or heard, or experienced but I want you to be able to stare fear in the face in a calm way and choose your path forward to use your fear as fuel.
NOW, LET ME KNOW…
How do you deal with anxious thoughts? Share any tips you have in the comments below!
Tanya Gordon, NLP, TLT, C.Ht is a Global Mindset & Performance Coach who coaches people to perform optimally and produce breakthrough results personally and professionally. Ultimately to tap into and harness their full potential. As an authentic, and inspirational coach and mentor, she partners with professionals, teams in the community to create transformations and lasting results.
Discover how to be more consistent and what it takes to stick to your goals.
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