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Accepting Anxiety

We all hate being anxious. It’s a horrible and overwhelming feeling. Understandably we immediately get to work on trying to figure out ways to get rid of it - by avoiding anything or anyone that might make us anxious, by telling ourselves that we shouldn’t feel like that, distraction by keeping busy, self-medicating to numb the feeling or even trying to problem solve our way out of it (why oh why am I feeling like this?). There are lots of options available. Only problem is none of them are particularly effective in helping to lessen and regulate our anxious feeling, not in the long term anyway.

The most important and impactful thing you can actually do is to accept the feelings of anxiety. Consider this sentence…

If you’re not willing to have it, you will

We fight against that which we are not willing to experience. Research has shown that if you try not to have an anxious or worrying thought, you are actually more likely to get it again. You are also more likely to have other anxious thoughts because the fear of having the anxious thought causes more of them in uncomfortable situations. It’s the same with feelings – the more we fight against them often the bigger they get and the longer they stay. So with an unwillingness to have an anxious thought or feeling we fight against it – feeding it and making it bigger.

Feelings also give us messages – information about what’s going on in our environment. If we don’t pay attention we miss the message. For example, feeling anxious or nervous about an upcoming meeting may tell us that we are ill prepared and need to do more planning. Feeling anxious around a certain person may tell us that they are not someone that we need to be spending time with. Once we acknowledge and notice the feeling we can examine the evidence.

To help, start practising willingness to accept anxiety:

· Notice when you start to feel the normal body response to unhelpful thoughts

· Don’t struggle or fight with the feelings and thoughts, just let them be

· It will pass JUST NOTICE - This is just a normal body response to unhelpful thoughts.

· Take a look at the thoughts – you might even write them down. Are they true? What evidence do you have for the thought?

· Consider if there is any action you need to take - if there is any evidence that supports the thought that you need to pay attention to. Then take control and decide what do you need to do to help yourself feel better and more in control of the situation

Anxiety is normal. We all feel it. We will all continue to feel it at times. The more we accept it the less control the anxious feelings and thoughts have over us.

If your anxiety does becomes overwhelming or is significantly impacting your life you may want to consider the support and help of a trained counsellor or therapist. They can help you with specific tools and strategies to help you manage anxious thoughts and feelings and help you feel back in control. If you have any questions or want to talk about whether therapy might be a positive step for you please get in contact – I offer a free 15 minute phone call for anyone who feels that they might need additional support in coping with life’s challenges.

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