Anxiety As Your Teacher

It makes sense that we feel angry at emotions that we believe caused us turmoil in our lives. But getting angry at our anxiety is a tactic that frankly doesn’t work. Why not try something new? Transform the default belief “Panic is evil” into, “What can I learn as a student of panic?” Play with the idea of looking at your feelings of anxiety as a teacher. First thing that happens when you begin to do this is that you move yourself from your automatic reaction to anxiety to a reaction that you designed. This attitude shift will bring you a sense of freedom and personal choice, factors that are key in overcoming anxiety. Also you are changing your fear by adding something to it, not by taking the fear away.

Additionally, be curious about your anxiety. How does it express itself in your life? What is anxiety asking you to be afraid of? Notice the situations in which you feel anxious. Then ask yourself, “What skills is it encouraging me to practice?” Pay attention to what anxiety and panic teach you over time. Will it encourage you to stand up for yourself? To be more assertive? Will it teach you to be more revealing and vulnerable about yourself to those who you love you? Or perhaps it’s nudging you to learn to express your true desire for what you want out of life? Remember that anxiety goes up when the danger seems high and you believe that you don’t have the skills or recourses to deal with it. Well, why not pay attention to the skills that you need to develop. Your best approach will be to ask yourself, “Panic, Anxiety, you have something to teach me. What is it? Help me understand myself”

Transforming the belief “I want to avoid” to I want to face the symptoms to gain skills

Once you begin transforming anxiety from something dreaded to your teacher for growth, you can begin to see that facing the symptoms and sensations of anxiety helps you gain skills. The only way to get the best of panic and anxiety is to face the symptoms directly and practice your skills. Facing the symptoms requires courage, that is being scared and doing it anyway. When you look at it this way you don’t have to get rid of fear, you need to add courage. Don’t wait for the anxiety-provoking situations to arrive, look around for ways to make your self anxious today! By voluntarily seeking out those symptoms you begin to change panic. You take its involuntary nature and start to shift the control to you.

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