499: When anxiety becomes the devil you know

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This week we’re talking about how we have a strong tendency to get stuck with what's familiar to us - even if it's hurting us. This goes for anxiety too, sometimes we're scared of what we think lies beyond anxiety, the pressure, the expectations that might be waiting for us.




Points covered in this episode:

We discuss the challenge of often preferring our current environment and current situation the way it is, even if we are suffering.

We are wired to resist change, the nature of the mind is to get stuck in suffering but Ayurveda teaches we can rise above the mind and use our Buddhi - our intelligence - to direct the mind to a more peaceful and content experience of life.

How expectations can hold us in anxiety

  • Recovery and expectations

  • Your healing is your own personal and private business, no one else has the right to say what they think you should be doing with your time and energy

  • You can keep your progress private, nurture it in a journal to build a sense of trust and remain positive in your progress

  • Find and use the tools that can help you feel better, while also putting boundaries and assurances in place that mean you do not have to feel external pressure.

Facing the anxiety demon

Sometimes we see coaching clients stall because they are worried that they have to dredge up their past and work through their painful memories to feel better. Especially where trauma has been involved. But it’s not necessary, it’s an option, but recovery is completely possible without exposing old wounds. We don’t have to know why we suffer from anxiety to move forward to recovery.

This is where the mind can get very caught up in sticking with the anxiety we know.

With the right techniques and with compassion as the principle, the focus is on healing and moving forward, not looking over your shoulder.

The best techniques for anxiety respond in the moment, they meet you where you are now. It's understood you may be carrying some pain, you may have some shadows walking with you, but you don't need to turn and face them to get through anxiety, you need the support and techniques to bring in light from a new direction and then the shadows fade.

Ayurveda offers lifestyle support that calms anxiety via the body. Using nutrition, breathing and understanding of the adjustments that support our individual nature, we can find relief and feel more grounded and present in our lives.

Challenging Beliefs

There is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique for working with stuck beliefs. Write down a belief that's causing you suffering, then write down proof that the belief is false. It's a helpful exercise for the beliefs that hold us in the grip of anxiety.

In “Option B”, the bestselling book on managing grief, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant share what they've learned about facing adversity and building resilience. After suffering a sudden and devastating loss Sheryl recalls holding the belief that she would never feel the same again and then remembered laughing at a joke and knowing that, if only for a moment, that belief was shown to be false.

Try the exercise to see what beliefs about anxiety you can disprove. Write down what you believe to be true about your anxiety, then write down proof that your belief is false - even if only for a fleeting moment.

The anxious mind will hold us captive to beliefs like:

It's just how I am.

I've always been anxious.

It runs in my family.

I've tried everything.

I don't think I'll ever get better.

I'm stuck with this anxiety for life.

Nothing works.

But we can note down evidence that says otherwise, look for the moments when you didn't feel anxious, the people in your family who are free from anxiety, the things you haven't yet tried, the moments you felt you might get better.

The mind creates stories that hold us in suffering and disempower us - but we have the opportunity to adjust the plot. We can edit and re-write the story. And when we do that, we get to change the ending too.

Related resources:

Small Steps to BIG Change: Little things you can do to feel better on even the most challenging days

How to Calm Your Fragile Mind: Finding freedom from negative thoughts


This episode of Anxiety Slayer is brought to by TheWiseGuide app, your complete success app. With the WiseGuide app it's never been easier to improve your life!  They guide you in eliminating negative thought habits so you can establish new, productive, healthy thought habits.  

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