If you’re reading this book, you probably experience anxiety in one form or the other, but don’t know where those feelings come from. This is completely normal and is a sign that you are ready- ready to understand the origins of your anxiety and ready to work your way around and overcome it. This chapter shows you how to address your mental and physical battles while digging deeper into the source of your anxiety – your inner demons so to speak.
Putting Events, Emotions, and Vibrations Together
The confusion and anxiety you feel today could be the result of seeds planted in your past. And so, dwelling into your past, into memories that you perhaps would otherwise like to avoid and forget or have consciously erased from your mind, can help piece together the source of your anxiety.
Disclaimer: Some of the memories you revisit through the questions put forth in this book may evoke unexpected reactions and that’s completely normal. You may feel slightly uncomfortable and that’s normal too. As unexpected and unpleasant as they can be, they are important as they may lead you to the origins of your problems. That said, if you become overtly overwhelmed, you may stop the exercise and seek professional help. We recommend you also have someone who can have your back.
Worksheet 5 – Review Your World
Many times, people with anxiety know they are experiencing anxious feelings. They can tell you how they feel, but don’t know why they feel away. That’s why journaling can be such an important tool to help address and overcome anxiety.
- Daily, for two weeks at least, mindfully observe your thoughts, emotions, and bodily reactions.
- Ask yourself what is going on when you start noticing your emotions and body signals. Write your experiences when they are fresh.
- Use feeling words to describe any powerful and/or repetitive emotion. For instance, happy, energetic, nervous, sweaty, tired, dizzy and so on.
- Because we want to know the cause of your anxiety, especially note down the feelings that make you feel anxious. Make a note of the situations that led up to it.
- At the end of the second week (or more if you wish), reflect on the anxious feelings and situations. Compare them to your notes from worksheet 4. Do you see a pattern? Make a note of your thoughts.
Imagining the Worst
Life can be rough sometimes. Bad things can happen without a plan and then can leave behind a sense of lasting pain and fear. But sometimes, our mind can fantasize about things that never happened and probably might never happen too. These things can be our biggest fears. We can imagine catastrophic events and jump to the worst possible conclusions with no reason or logic. And so, by doing that repeatedly, you live the experience that many times (because your mind and body might not be able to differentiate real from the imaginary world).
Self-Blame. Self Loathe. All of it.
Rachel suffers from constant worry and anxiety. Some she says are the result of the busy life she leads. She wakes up at 5 am every day, travels an hour to reach work, is constantly rushing through meetings and deadlines, takes another hour to reach home at 8 pm, cooks and finishes her dinner, prepares for the next day before she can go to sleep at 11 pm.
Sometimes things get rough, her anxiety kicks in as a result of her worst imagination. Here’s how she says her mind plays out events when that happens: As a result, she blames and hates herself.
My throat hurts. I think I can feel a bump. What if it’s cancer? Am I going to die? What will happen to my family once I’m gone? Will they miss me?
I remember a bad/traumatic experience and replay that event repeatedly, imagining it is happening again. Sometimes, I imagine it being worse too and my responses are very real.
I see a group of people giggling in front of me. Are they laughing at me? Is it my dress? Do I look okay? Did I do something odd or funny? I need to get out of here. Why do people always make fun of me? I don’t deserve this. Nobody likes me. I’m hopeless.
My manager didn’t greet me as usual. I wonder if he/she is upset about my work. What if I get fired? What about my bills? Why can’t I do anything right? Why am I never good enough? I hate myself.
Worksheet 6 – Living Your Biggest Fears – This Time with Reason
Decide to live your biggest fears once again-this time more mindfully. Take one fear at a time and if there are many, then move over to the next fear only after you’ve completely made peace with the previous one. Sure, this might take time, but the positive effects can last a lifetime. So, don’t rush. Again, decide whether you want to have someone around to watch your back.
Sit with yourself when you’re feeling the most secure and comfortable. Remind yourself that what you are going to experience isn’t real. Remind yourself to disconnect from emotional trauma you are knowingly going to put yourself through. Remind yourself of the purpose of this exercise. You want to dig deeper into your fears and understand what you are learning from it is. Once you recognize this, you can work on the learning and the suffering will gradually decrease.
And when you’re ready, go through the experience, your biggest fears, the worse possible situations, your inner demons so to speak. What is it that keeps troubling you? Why do you keep inviting this experience into your life? Is there a lesson?
What’s the worst possible? Okay, that happened. Can it get worse? Imagine that too. Live the experience all the time telling yourself that this isn’t real and isn’t happening now.
Again, when you’re ready, bring yourself back to the present and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Write them down when you are ready.
Repeat this exercise whenever you are ready for it and until the time you’ve made peace with the fear and can move on.
The best way to gain perspective is to mindfully talk to yourself as you experience the rush of fantasized images. Now that you know that that can happen, the next time you catch yourself doing something like that, tell yourself:
- This isn’t real and it’s not happening now
- Whatever happens, I can cope
- I am going to stop causing my suffering
- I am doing great. I’ve got this
- I love myself. I feel great.
Connecting Them with Your Mind and Body
Remember, you can manage and even overcome your anxiety by learning to feel better with introspection. Ask yourself as many questions about your anxiety. Persist because deep down, you have and know the answers. Observe your relationship with your feelings, thoughts and body’s responses to them. Track them and talk yourself to a better, calmer, and panic-free state of mind. Yes, you can!
Worksheet 7 – Talking Yourself Out of Anxiety
- Each day, record events that made you anxious. Elaborate and specify the event as well as your thoughts and bodily reactions to it.
- Use feeling words to describe your emotions.
- Go through the experience and decide to make peace with it. Keep telling yourself that the present is great, and the future will be even better.
- Work on your feelings. Talk to yourself. Gather support from others if you want to.
- At the end of every week, look back on your tracker and evaluate your progress.
- How are you feeling?