How do you cope with anxiety?
I struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life (am 41 now), but I have good news. Keep reading. 🙂
I often wondered why this happened to me. Everyone else seemed to be coping so much better in their lives. For me, a seemingly small thing, like making a mistake or saying something “wrong” or “stupid”, could leave me with anxiety pains for days. I used to curse my life and myself, thinking that there was something wrong with me. I thought that my life wasn’t a worthy life. No one should have to live with an inside this broken (yes, I was very dramatic). I didn’t want to kill myself, but I didn’t really want to live either.
I started to look for a cure. I read numerous self-help books, and went to a psychologist. It gave me some tools, but my attacks were too overwhelming for me to handle.
It wasn’t until I started to meditate with the help of a professional guide, that I found a way to actually deal with my situation. The solution was not to fight the feelings of anxiety, but instead to admit and allow them.
The way I had dealt with anxiety up to that point was to label them as “wrong” and do everything in my power to push them away or to “not” feel them; however, this only made the negative feelings become even stronger.
The meditation helped me to look within and reflect on which situations that triggered the anxiety response in me and what the root cause could be. In my case, I realized that I had extremely high standards for myself. I had to be the best in every situation, or else I experienced enormous shame and guilt; I was a complete failure who deserved to die. The reason why I suffered from anxiety was basically because of an exaggerated case of hurt pride. In a way, it was that simple.
This anxiety response was like an automatic program inside my mind; a program which I up to that point always had been resisting and fighting. I realized that I had to change my approach to it; otherwise I would just keep acting in the same way. So, instead of labeling the anxious feelings as “wrong”, which was a form of denial, I began to let them to play themselves out in an unfiltered way.
The meditation provided me with a method to “let go” or “throw away” the anxiety as it hit me, and also to let go of anxiety that I hade accumulated and pushed down throughout my life. I realized that I now had an effective way to deal with it, and I decided to make a big change by completely allow my anxious feelings to come up. Gradually, I developed a “f*ck-it approach” to all those feelings. Why would I be afraid of these feelings since I now had a way of dealing with them?
Of course, this was not always easy. I had many horrible attacks, surprisingly however, these were not as strong, or at least not as long-lasting, as the once I had experienced when I tried to avoid them. They hurt for sure, but at the same time it felt like they were lifted from my mind, like something that was passing. Afterwards I always felt lighter, clearer, and, for lack of better words, “upgraded” inside.
In retrospect, this was a very grateful period in my life. Practicing the meditation and letting go of my anxiety expanded my mind. I started to feel free and light inside. I could be more honest with myself, and with others. I developed a healthy self-distance, where I stopped taking myself so seriously. Now, I can more easily admit my limitations and weaknesses. I don’t need to be perfect anymore. I don’t need to be strong anymore. It has become easier for me to try and learn new things, and I have since then become capable in ways I couldn’t imagine before. My life has become joyous.
So yes. It is possible to live a life where you are not controlled by your anxiety. For me, meditation was the key, and I can’t recommend it enough.