What causes anxiety? What is anxiety? How do we end anxiety and become free to live our lives joyfully and in peace. Anxiety disrupts relationships, holds people back, causes people to under-perform in their work, schoolwork and careers.
Ending anxiety begins with the willingness to become aware of what you are really feeling underneath everything else.
The choice not to feel is a major cause of anxiety
What does this mean? It means that many people that feel anxious and suffer with anxiety are afraid to feel their feelings, they avoid feeling their own feelings. As a client said the other day:
I don’t know what I feel, I am scared to find out.
Anxiety is a disconnect from feeling feelings in our body
When we disconnect from, suppress and avoid feeling our feelings, the end result is anxiety. The anxiety is a constant reminder something is wrong. This is Nature’s way of alerting us that we have unconscious feelings that need to be felt and processed.
Why does it matter to end anxiety?
Because buried emotions, unprocessed thoughts and feelings are the number one cause of stress, illness, unhappiness, insomnia and broken relationships.
“Up to 90 percent of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
How do people disconnect from their feelings and cause their anxiety?
We cut off and live in our mental minds. We avoid feeling things like anger, grief, sadness. We disconnect from our bodies. We refuse to be vulnerable and take the time to explore and become conscious of what we are really feeling.
The subconscious is full of experiences we have not truly come terms with. This is one of the major reasons people do not experience fully satisfying sleep and rest.
We use food, sugar, alcohol, drugs and medications to shove it all down and to avoid it. The moment we light up a cigarette or pour a drink or begin eating food to suppress our feelings, we continue and deepen the cycle of anxiety.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
- Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of our $148 billion total mental health bill, according to the ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, July 1999).
How do we break the cycle and end anxiety?
Sit down and write down how often you feel anxious, scared or even panicky. Write a list of all the things you avoid because it makes you anxious.
- What are you not saying or telling someone?
- What are you avoiding?
- Is your sleep restless?
- Are you able to sit down and meditate deeply?
- Are you able to enjoy the stillness and silence, or do you have to jump up and eat something or turn on something?
- Do you have to keep busy all the time?
- Or do you feel peaceful and happy most of the time?
First, we need to be honest with ourselves. What kind of life are we living? Are we truly happy? If not, are we willing to do something about it and stop procrastinating and wasting our lives? We are not just wasting our lives, we are putting our lives in danger.
Feel your feelings
The way out of anxiety, depression and stress is to feel our feelings. To clean up our conscience, clean up the past, make amends, find forgiveness and heal all the past wounds. Until we heal and transform past trauma it will affect and haunt us. Many people are afraid to feel. People are afraid to feel anger, grief, sadness, just like they are afraid to feel their feelings concerning loss and death.
Looking at and processing past trauma is scary for everyone at first. We have all been taught in many ways to fear and avoid doing so. From very young we are told ‘there is not time for that,’ ‘nobody wants to hear it,’ and ‘get over it.’
Turning on the light is the only way to deal with darkness
By turning on the light I mean, rather than suppressing and avoiding feelings, rather than shoving them down with food or drink or pills, rather than distracting ourselves with media, or shoving them under the rug, we choose to face and feel them.
It can get so bad that we just need to choose to sit in a chair and refuse to get up until we feel what is underneath the anxiety. The anxiety is on the surface. Underneath is what is calling out to be felt and recognized. Anxiety is our bodies crying out for us to pay attention and really care for ourselves.
When is the last time you really listened to your deepest self?
- Do you meditate daily?
- Do you pray?
- Do you write in your journal?
- Do you record your dreams?
- Do you spend quiet time in nature?
- Do you really sit and share your feelings with a loved one or friend?
It can be very difficult to make a change
Yes, it an be very difficult. We want to make a change, we know we have to, but the days, and weeks, and months, and years go on!
Choose to get help. Make up your mind this day to find someone to help you. That is what professional counselors and coaches are for. They are trained to help people heal and change their lives.
It can be scary, even feel hopeless. Anxious people are even anxious about getting help. I know, I used to be this way. Though time is going on, and the only way to eventually put an end to the anxiety and suffering, is to ask for help.
5 ways to end anxiety
Here is a summation of how to end anxiety running your life:
1. Make up your mind you are done with allowing anxiety to run your life: “Ask and it will be given to you” – Make a mindful prayer while sitting quietly, or taking a walk, or driving your car. Ask out loud, and then from that moment, no matter how the circumstances look like, behave as if it’s just a matter of time, know that it will be given to you. Every time doubt creeps in, say something kind and hopeful to yourself, like “I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to receive support and help in resolving this.”
2. Begin practicing ways that allow you to become aware of your true feelings; to feel what is underneath the anxiety: Every time your chest tightens, heart beats faster, fear arises, notice yourself for a few minutes. Step back and take a look at how your body feels, what the mind says. Almost as if you would observe someone else. Stay with what you feel and sense, without going into the past or the future, just observe.
3. Stop any habits or addictions that are distracting you, covering up and suppressing your feelings: Every time you do something out of habit, such as reaching out to check your phone even though you didn’t really need to, eating too much desert when you deep down know you don’t really want it, reaching for the alcohol or cigarettes, or surfing the web when you really feel like it’s a waste of time – you can do any of these, but every time you want to, again, step back for a few seconds, feel what you really feel, and then go ahead and have your sweet treat or whatever you desire if you still want to. But make a conscious effort to see the real need first. Recognize that you are feeling afraid, worried, perhaps not loved, whatever it is. Just feel the feeling, it takes you a step closer to healing.
4. Practicing conscious breathing, and things that promote it, such as yoga, time in nature, certain types of exercise and body-work, meditation and inner focusing practices: Every time you feel overwhelmed, take a 60 second break, to simply observe how you feel. Be still. Keep your mind on your breath. You can be sitting or walking. Though keep your mind on your breathing, feel and sense the energy in your body.
5. Seek out body-centered, somatic-based, mindful-based psychotherapists, counselors and coaches: We are all here to help each other. You are helping someone, no matter what your job is. So let someone else help you too.
I came from a family with highly anxious, socially phobic parents. I too suffered with severe anxiety most of my life. I eventually got serious about resolving it and I did. I now am passionate about teaching and counseling others to put an end to anxiety running and ruining their lives.
Wishing you peace and healing,