Understanding and overcoming anxiety
- By candidasullivan
- January 4, 2023
- No Comments
Do you struggle with anxiety?
I hope you all said no. I hope no one can relate to this blog post. Because if you understand it, you know how it feels to struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings. While I don’t have a quick fix or a 5 step program to overcome it all, I have some tips and tricks that help me.
Before we get into the solutions, I’d like to discuss the causes.
Sometimes I feel like a fear magnet. I go through life feeling other people deeply. I’ve always been this way. In some ways, I tuck away other people’s tragedies and worry that they might happen to me. Do you remember the movie, My Girl? Her dad was a funeral home director, and she feared she would die from the same things that killed each person. In some ways, I understand her. I try to carry tragedies that aren’t mine to carry.
I can’t even watch movies that have violence. It truly upsets me. Even though I tell myself it isn’t real, it still bothers me. When I watch things or read certain things, it triggers emotions in me. I’ve caused unnecessary pain by not understanding how my mind works.
Food allergies or reactions to a medicine can cause the same level of anxiety. For the longest time, I didn’t know I was allergic to almonds. Since the response didn’t happen all at once, it took me a while to figure it out. About an hour after I have almonds, I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack. My heart starts pounding, I start shaking, I have trouble breathing, and I itch.
Suppressing my emotions also causes anxiety to build up in me. If something happens, and I stuff it down inside of me and ignore it, it will surface when I least expect it. And usually, that’s when I am trying to fall asleep. The negative emotions need to be processed and sorted, so they don’t cause us harm.
Usually, if I am struggling with anxiety, it is because of my thoughts. It is normally one thought bouncing around in my mind. It’s like a toddler trying to get my attention. If I ignore it, then it continues to bother me. But if I sit down and write the thoughts down, I can work to process them.
Our thoughts create our feelings. I’ve heard that thoughts cause all of our emotions. Therefore, I want to be very careful with my thoughts. It’s not even our circumstances that cause our pain. It’s our thoughts.
This was true for me with my scars. Let me show you how I was able to break it down.
Circumstance: Amniotic Band Syndrome affects my hands and feet.
Thoughts: The bands shouldn’t have attacked me. I shouldn’t have to live my life with scars. I shouldn’t have to struggle every day of my life to do simple things.
Feelings: Sad. I feel like a victim.
Actions: Complain, shove my hands in my pockets, allow my scars to limit me, and make me feel bad about myself.
In the following example, I will show you how I changed my thought, and it changed everything else.
Circumstance: Amniotic Band Syndrome affects my hands and feet.
Thoughts: I’m so thankful that God spared me and blessed me to live when the bands attacked me.
Feelings: Grateful. I feel so blessed to be alive to love and be loved.
Actions: Overcome it all and write books to help others.
Changing my thoughts was such a powerful experience for me. I spent so many years crying over my circumstances. But when God helped me change my thoughts, it truly gave me a new perspective on it all. Something that once caused me so much pain transformed before my eyes. My scars went from being a burden to a blessing.
Next, I explore anxiety and see what it wants to teach me. When I feel it, I want to know why. So I question it.
Am I creating fear in my mind?
Am I reacting to something?
Are my thoughts creating pain?
Am I somewhere I shouldn’t be?
Am I doing something I shouldn’t be doing?
As much as we would like to, we can’t altogether remove anxiety from our lives. It signals pain. Therefore, we will continue to suffer if we try to cover up the pain without understanding why it’s there.
I have learned to embrace it and try to understand it. It doesn’t feel as scary when we shine a light on it. And take an active approach to resolve it. Journaling and prayer are beautiful ways to gain an understanding of it.
I also read books about the mind and how to process my thoughts. When I am in situations beyond my control, I take a CBD supplement made by SOUL CBD (if you’d like a $20 off coupon for your first order, use this link HTTP://RWRD.IO/7UN6NUE). It doesn’t numb me; instead, it helps me slow down the anxious feelings so I can work through them.
In an active attack, focusing on something else helps break the pattern. If I find something to count, then it breaks the stronghold the anxious thoughts have over me. Singing also works because I am focusing on the words. Also, I remind myself that God doesn’t give me the spirit of fear, so I remind myself I am safe. The sudden, overwhelming fear is from the enemy.
Lastly, learning to process my thoughts and emotions daily helps me greatly. If not, I will react in a way I don’t want to. This happened to me a few years ago. When we shut down in 2020, and a family member had been diagnosed with cancer, I was stuffing down my emotions, and so many things were happening simultaneously. Then, one day a dog attacked my cat on my deck. My control snapped, and I lost it. I scared myself with my deep level of emotions. As all the carefully stacked emotions exploded on me, I knew I never wanted it to happen to me again.
Now I journal every day and attempt to pray. When I start feeling anxious, I address it then. I don’t want it to become rage or total panic. I also check in to see where I am living. Usually, in the present moment, I am fine. But it’s the fear of the future that causes me to be anxious. The present moment is the only time we can live. Therefore, I try to stay where my feet are planted and live in this moment.
Fighting against reality also causes me to feel out of control. However, it loses its power over me when I can accept what is. I may not like it, but fighting against things that have already happened steals my peace and cause me pain. God can help us to accept what is.
I hope this helps. If you need a friend, please reach out to me. You’re not alone, sweet friend.
P.S. I learned the thought model from Brooke Castillo.
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