Attacking Anxiety doesn’t work

When I was in my mid 20’s I had my first experience with a panic attack. And then another, and another, and another. My boyfriend at the time broke up with me and it triggered a slew of childhood abandonment issues I didn’t yet have the tools or capacity to deal with.

I remember experiencing the visceral symptoms of panic in my body and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. All I knew was I was spiraling fast, and it was terrifying. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, my hair was falling out, I was rapidly losing weight, and it seemed nothing could bring relief. I wanted to jump out of my own skin and I COULDN’T.

I tried so many things on my journey to recovery one of which was a self-help audio series that was all about “attacking” anxiety. While there were tools in this program that I did find helpful, it overall didn’t bring me the relief I was looking for. What I understand now that I didn’t then is that “attacking” anything about ourselves is not an effective approach to healing. At least it never has been for me.

It wasn’t until I found a therapist that supported me in FEELING my feelings (wait, what?), instead of trying to get-rid-of (aka attack) them, that I truly started to find the recovery I was seeking.

Nobody enjoys anxiety. It’s not a fun feeling. Of course we want it to go away. But, if our approach is centered around trying to get rid of it, it ultimately only creates more resistance. And, as it’s been said:

What we resist persists.

Your anxiety is a signal that something is seeking to be soothed in you. Something is seeking to be heard by you. Something is coming up that’s ready to be healed. That something is seeking to be loved by you. The more we can take the approach of EMBRACING our anxieties (or any other uncomfortable feeling) the more easily it will release its grip on us.

I’ve never met an anxiety sufferer that doesn’t at the heart of it all believe that something is fundamentally wrong with them. Something is not ok. Something about them is bad, broken, or flawed. When we try to heal anxiety from this belief matrix, it fails.

BUT HOW DO I EMBRACE ALL THIS YUCKY STUFF?

🦋Can you be with yourself for a few moments without trying to change any part of what you feel?

🦋Can you let it be ok that it’s yucky right now?

🦋Can you try speaking some suuuuper kind words to yourself?

🦋Can you reach out to a loving friend or professional and talk it out?

Truth is there are INFINITE ways to love yourself more.

Begin to develop a radically self-loving attitude with anxiety. Even if it feels strange or weird or disconnected at first. Imagine that your anxiety is a crying baby. You might pick up the baby and rock it, you might feed it, you might sing it a lullaby, you might check if it has a fever. When the baby’s needs are met, it’s comforted and feels safe, and will eventually stop crying. There is nothing wrong with the baby, and there is nothing wrong with you. You just need some extra squishees. Who better than you to give it to yourself?

As your anxiety is listened to, heard, and addressed with unconditional love, it WILL dissipate. This is not an overnight process as sometimes these patterns of “somethings wrong with me” run deep. But you are worth the time it takes, whatever it takes. You deserve love. You deserve compassion. You deserve grace. Love is the answer my friends. This is the true path to healing.

I’m curious, have you noticed a calling to be more loving with yourself through this quarantine? What tools and practices feel most comforting to you right now?

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