If the check engine light came on in your car, you wouldn’t cover it up with a sticker. Or sell your car. You’d look for what’s causing the light to come on, right?
Before vehicles had warning lights, they were much more likely to break down. So the engineers decided to install the light as a warning to protect from further damage.
We have also been engineered with some ‘check engine lights’. Anxiety is one of them. This is a good thing. If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s time to see what’s going on to cause it. Unfortunately a lot of us are told we have to just live with it. And get different “stickers” to put over the light that don’t get to the root. I see clients often with one of two kinds of anxiety.
There’s what I call chronic anxiety and normal anxiety. It’s like pain. You have chronic pain, then you have good, normal, pain like when you burn your hand on a hot pan.
Chronic anxiety is when you just can’t relax, like ever. And if you do, it’s most likely with the help of something like alcohol, zoning out on social media, shopping, sleeping, etc. You have a really hard time being present. And when you’re present, it can actually hurt. You’re trying really hard to be perfect. You think you must be on guard all the time to keep yourself aware of your surroundings so that you feel safe. Either safe from people who might hurt you, or safe from screwing up or doing the wrong thing. You feel like if you “let go” like everyone says to do, the whole world will fall apart. This may include panic attacks, chest pains and insomnia.
That’s exactly how I felt years ago. I was so scared I’d mess up and fail and hurt people that I was constantly overthinking and beating myself up. Rehashing conversations, criticizing every move I made. Second guessing myself and apologizing a lot. I’d zone out and worked too hard.
The root of chronic anxiety is childhood programming. At some point you (like me) had one or many experiences that taught you that you’re not good and not safe and not enough. So most likely you’ve been dealing with this feeling of being unable to relax, since childhood.
A solution to reducing chronic anxiety is to reprogram those thoughts. This can be accomplished by:
Understand that peace is the normal set point. We can live a life of feeling good about ourselves. THIS is normal. Don’t settle till you find it.
Be aware that you’re operating in a way that isn’t healthy. It may feel so normal- like it did for me- that you don’t even know another way. But if you can’t relax and you can’t stop the mean and worried thoughts in your mind, this isn’t healthy.
Replace the negative thoughts with a healthy positive thoughts. Start to say any or all of these statements often until they’re your dominant thoughts.
“I am enough”, is a powerful truth about who you really are. You are enough.
“I’m safe”, is true. You’re safe to mess up. You’re safe to have your opinion. You’re safe to fail. It’s extremely unlikely that right now you really truly are in danger- even though you may feel that way.
“I’m not where I want to go, but I’m farther than I was. I’ve come a long way.”
“I’m not a kid anymore. I get to choose my own thoughts and not rely on others opinions. I’m an adult.”
“Good things are happening to me.”
“I’m loved and valuable.”
Spend time sitting with the anxiety. Ask yourself where it’s coming from. Ask yourself how to release it. If you a person of faith, you can invite God to show you what’s going on here as well. Or tap in to your intuition.
Understand that your brain is designed to think. Just like your heart is designed to pump blood and your lungs are designed to breathe. You can separate the brain from the part of you that is the mind- the part that’s beyond just thinking- the part of you with your dreams, desires, goals, personality. You mind is calm. Spend more time listening to your mind- the real you. Practice listening to this part and trusting yourself more and more. It might be hard at first, but so worth it.
You can accomplish this through meditation. Spend time meditating every day. 5-20 mins is ideal. You can listen to white noise or a guiding meditation on YouTube. This reprograms your brain to allow the thoughts to take a back seat for a little while.
Get help. I needed help to release my anxiety. I couldn’t do it alone. If you’re having panic attacks, chest pains, insomnia, just can’t relax or stop worrying, etc, see someone. For me, Rapid Transformational Therapy was able to help me rewire my mind and get tons of peace. Whatever you choose to do, know that there’s no shame and you can get help and relief.
Normal anxiety is different than chronic anxiety because it’s a temporary check engine light that is signaling you need to slow down, or shift gears in an area of you life. Or that something scary or sad happened. This is a normal part of life that you shouldn’t avoid or try to get rid of right away. You can use all the techniques listed above for normal anxiety, as well as a few more.
Understand that you aren’t falling back into chronic anxiety if you deal with normal anxiety once in a while. Many people freak out once they get over chronic anxiety and then have a bout of normal anxiety later on. It can trigger feelings of failure and fear. Or even some of the old physical symptoms. But know that it’s not the same. It’s just like pain. It’s a good thing to show you need to change or tweak some things.
If you’re going through a big life change, give yourself grace and love. Divorce, death, sickness and loss of anything- job, animal, kids off to college, someone moves- are all cause for normal anxiety.
Allow yourself time to process
Allow down days
Talk to friends and loved ones
find support. You need it right now
Again, sit and listen to the anxiety- ask yourself what’s off. What needs to change? What areas are out of balance? For me, I tend to get anxious if I haven’t slept well or I’m working too much. Anxiety is my check engine to slow down and take care of myself better.
Honor your body! You were created in this most amazing way! Listen to your body, think about what you’re eating, how you’re sleeping, if you need some exercise.
You may need to set a boundary with a person. Honor yourself in this way. Treat yourself well and choose to be around others who treat you well. If you must be around people who don’t treat you well- as a parent or at work- create support systems to deal with this.
Ask for help! You’re worth taking care of. You have a purpose in this life that anxiety should not be allowed to stop. See what’s going on, get help and keep going toward your goals.
This is long one! Thanks for reading till the end. I really didn’t want to leave anything out. You’re so valuable. Your brain and mind and body are this incredible machine and soul that are created to do great things. You got this!
Like always, if you need help and want to see if RTT sounds like a good fit, go to www.cyrinatalbott.com.
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