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– How to Counteract Anxiety
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear, sometimes just running below the surface, other times accompanied by feelings of impending doom. The source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognised, which can further add to the distress you feel.
Anxiety is learnt behaviour that started at some point – often long ago or as a result of some traumatic or stressful event. Anxiety relates to future events, although it is fuelled by past fears and triggered by associated memories and thought patterns. We create anxiety by anticipating a future event in a negative way; worrying about what may go wrong instead of focusing on the positives we want out if it.
Cultivate Positive Self-belief
Stress and anxiety are actually caused by our perceptions of external events, not by the events themselves. If you still have doubts about yourself, your ability to deal with things and concerns about what people may be thinking, then these worrying thoughts could develop into anxious thoughts.
The cause of stressful anxious thoughts run deeper still. The real reason has to do with awareness. When your awareness remains on the surface of the 3-dimensional everyday busy life, the mind stays occupied with restless thoughts. An untrained mind runs a stream of senseless thoughts serving no particular purpose. There is so much more to your life than the 3-dimensional narrow focus. That’s only the tip of the iceberg of who you are and what you are capable of.
The mind is fertile ground. Every thought is creation.
There are no limits. Everything is possible.
Look after your Nervous System
Give the nervous system a break from all the continuous stimulation. Spend time on your own, in nature and in stillness. Restore the balance by giving yourself time to rest and recuperate. Enjoy a creative activity such as gardening, cooking or music. Create calm by slowing your pace and be present in the moment. Calm doesn’t come from some change in the external world. It has to be cultivated from within. When you do, you can engage your nervous system for what it was intended – creativity. Your nervous system is designed to bring about what you think about. Embrace your creative energy by channeling it constructively and positively into enjoyable projects. Align yourself with your destiny and set big intentions that drive and fulfil the vision of your more expansive multi-dimensional self.
In Power up your Brain, the Neuroscience of Enlightenment by D. Perlmutter and A. Villoldo (2011), the evolution of the human brain is described from the old reptilian brain (fight and flight) to the limbic brain (emotions), the neo-cortex (speech, writing and thinking) to the prefrontal cortex (the higher mind of creativity and initiative). Even though the old brain is still there, reacting with fear, greed, conflict and intolerance; human society is standing on the brink of an extraordinary leap in consciousness, they say. We are evolving in wisdom and higher awareness of connectivity, community, well-being, love, joy and enlightenment.
Rewire Your Brain
Due to our past experiences, the mind created neural pathways that keep triggering the same emotional reactions and limiting beliefs. In each new situation we have a choice whether to mull over anxious thoughts and reinforce the old reactive neural pathway, or to open up to new opportunities and new approaches, developing new positive emotions and beliefs. When we focus on new possibilities, we create new neural pathways and rewire the brain. All negative emotions (anger, upset, hurt, guilt) are fear-based. All positive emotions (joy, peace, compassion, enthusiasm) are love-based. It’s all about which thoughts we feed – love or fear.
There is a story of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a fight between two wolves. One is evil – he reacts with anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego,” he continued “The other is good – he experiences joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
So, with focused attention, you can change your thoughts and create new neural pathways. This investment changes your activities and your behaviour to bring about a positive change in your life.
Synergy of Minds
Because your Consciousness Thinking Mind is only the tip of the iceberg, limited and slow and the subtle minds below the surface are so infinite and expansive, it’s easy to wonder if the Consciousness Mind, with it senseless stream of busy thoughts, serves any purpose. Yet, the Consciousness Mind starts the creation process and brings the essential functions of choice, decision, focus and direction to the process. Every aspect of the brain and mind serves an important purpose. It’s best that the mind works in synergy. Synergy means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy of whole brain function can be achieved through relaxation, creativity, imagination and meditation. A calm mind is more expansive and enables clear perception. We have a choice, to feed the wolf of chaos, confusion, negativity, doubts and conflict, or the wolf of inner peace, love, joy, creativity and the gifts of your higher mind.
Focus Your Thoughts Towards What You Want
This is the key antidote to anxiety – focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Your nervous system is designed to give you what you focus on. Everything starts with a thought, an idea that we energise through focus. It’s a conscious choice what you focus your mind on. What you focus on, you energise, expand, make more of. Focused thought expands the probability; the likeliness of the outcome. Your mind is immensely creative, and the possibilities are infinite.
An untrained, fearful mind creates ‘what if’ type of thoughts that energise exactly what we don’t want and fear might happen. If you focus on what can go wrong, you create more fear. We seem to be good at telling ourselves what we don’t want to happen. That leaves the Unconscious Mind confused about what you do want. Goals and intentions give the Unconscious Mind a positive focus and direct the mind towards what you do want. Take note of what you don’t want and focus on what you do. As example, ‘I don’t want to be late’, is focusing on what you don’t want. This creates tension in the nervous system. What do you want? ‘I want to get there in time for a cup of tea before we start the meeting’. This feels comforting and enabling in the nervous system. Equally, ‘I don’t want to be ill’. What do you want? ‘I want to be healthy and well’. Better still, ‘I am healthy and well’. Mental discipline turns the thoughts focused towards what you want. Your mind picks up on every thought, the suggestions (health or illness) hidden in your thoughts and the emotional vibration underlying it (fear of love). Your Unconscious Mind – your emotional mind – is highly suggestive, so give it specific, clear and positive thought direction.
Certain modes of thinking can drive negative emotional states:
‘Should’ and ‘must’ type thoughts as well as ‘why don’t they…’ place high expectations on ourselves or others and are frustration drivers.
‘Always’ and ‘never’ type thinking pushes us into the extreme (e.g. “I am always helping you and you never help me”) and are anger drivers.
Catastrophising (‘what if’ type thoughts or beliefs that something is, or could be, far worse than it actually is) creates anxiety.
‘All or nothing’ or ‘black and white’ or ‘right or wrong’ or ‘nobody’ and ‘everybody’ type thoughts – absolutes rather than shades of grey – (e.g. nobody cares) are depression drivers.
Sometimes these thoughts are habitual thoughts that perpetuate the dis-empowering victim state. Bring the nature of your thoughts into your awareness. Are they helpful or harmful? Let your thoughts be kind, compassionate and reassuring to yourself as if you are your own best friend. Have faith in your intuitive guidance and trust that everything happens for a reason.
Present Moment Awareness
The present moment is by nature free from stress and anxiousness. When you’re truly engaged in a present moment, you’re more in your senses and the mind is cleared of thoughts. We only create stress and anxiety when our minds are in the future (generating ‘what if’ type thoughts), or in the past (generating ‘if only’ type regrets). When you feel those anxious sensations, bring your thoughts back to the here and now where all is well. Anything else is just a thought.
Express Yourself Freely
Sometimes we withhold expression thinking ‘What will people think?’ Expression exposes your world views, beliefs and perceptions. It is important to express your own truth authentically. Withholding expression can cause emotional and even physical distress. Finding ways of expressing your own uniqueness verbally and creatively, is essential for your health and happiness. Opinions are just opinions, they aren’t truths. Your truth is true for you, and you know it through your inner compass.
Follow Your Own Radar
People around you can have expectations and expressed opinions about your life, your roles and responsibilities. Only you know what’s right for you and follow your own path is essential for your sense of freedom and well-being. Following your own inner radar, will fill you with the dynamic energy to create your own destiny. This implies cutting through all the expectations, roles and responsibilities. Beyond fear, within each of us, is a space of innate well-being and peace. That’s where you want to dwell and from there you want to flow your creativity in your own unique way. Your inner radar is often feelings-driven. Your feelings are subtle messages, so it’s worth tuning in, listening and following your own inner truth.
To practice more positive thinking patterns, continuously bring the nature of your thoughts into your awareness. By cultivating mindfulness, you can acknowledge and identify your existing thinking patterns. Thoughts can be habitual. Mindfulness creates a distance between yourself and your thoughts, allowing you to view yourself as separate from them. Incorporate mindfulness into your meditative practice and also into your moment to moment everyday life. Conscious awareness is the catalyst for change and mastery.
Through Mindfulness you can Reflect on:
Your Perceptions: Our reality is just a perception coloured in by our beliefs, values, memories and experiences. We always perceive subjectively. What am I not seeing?
Your Beliefs: As self-fulfilling prophesies, our beliefs create our realities. Do I believe I can do it?
Your Thoughts: Be mindful of your self-talk. As you think so you create. Are my thoughts helpful to me?
Cause and Effect: Embrace your creative energy. Am I acting or reacting? Am I a victim or a creator? What am I creating?
Make these Empowering Beliefs part of your mindset and your life will change for good.
Cultivate a Compassionate Inner Voice
It is natural to want to continue improving yourself. Do so with compassion to yourself. An inner critical voice won’t make you feel good about yourself and has the opposite effect. Replace the critical voice with a compassionate voice that still wants you to grow, yet nudges you gently in a non-judgmental compassionate way.
Rest and Reset
Ensure you get sufficient downtime to restore your energy. Give yourself permission to say no from time to time. Your time and resources are precious and only you can look after it. There are many health benefits of getting enough sleep. Help yourself by having an early wind down and switch-off so that you can be restful and in bed by 10pm. The more sleep you get before midnight, the better the mind and the body restores. The Human Growth Hormone is released by the brain into the bloodstream during the first period of sleep, and its release is part of the repair and restoration function of sleep.
Make time for Relaxation
The more you retrain the mind and body to truly relax, the more you can induce this relaxed state at will and by choice.
When your mind is bypassing the stress chemicals and sending truly relaxing messages to your body, wonderful things begin to happen. Just as the adrenaline and noradrenaline jump to attention when you stress, other chemicals go to work when you relax causing you to have a feeling of contentment. You can begin to observe your thoughts and not buy into them. You are able to see your world as it is, not for how you feel about it.
You have a choice. Everything you do is a matter of choice. You choose to be angry, happy or indifferent. You make a conscious choice to take action or not to take action. Relaxing is a good thing because it gives you choice. It puts you back in the driver’s seat.
Nourishing breathing has a profound effect on the nervous system and clear thinking. Low, abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing brings you down into the naturally calm zone of the body. Make this a 1 to 2 ratio breathing, e.g. breathing in for 2 counts and out for 4 counts. A deeper in-breath is energising and a longer out-breath, like a sigh, is calming. All the air cells and all the breathing muscles including the muscles between the ribs are used. When the diaphragm expands and the ribs are pushed out the lungs have room to inflate. Your entire system will feel deeply energised and calmed at the same time.
Shift Nervous System
Practice Peripheral Vision often. This technique helps you to shift from the sympathetic (stress) to the para-sympathetic nervous system (relax) instantly. It also helps you to expand your awareness and then tap more of your infinite resources. Peripheral Vision can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. It is a great meditation technique and highly effective for putting yourself to sleep at night. Follow the process of Peripheral Vision here and get really good at it, until it becomes second nature.
What Else Can You Do?
Meditate daily. Follow these simple mindfulness and other meditations to bring calm to your mind and restore peace.
Heal and Release Emotions of the Past. Time Line Therapy™ is the most powerful way to heal and release all negative emotions and baggage from the past – anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt. Mentally, you can let go of limiting beliefs that keep you from feeling confident and reaching your highest potential, and develop empowering beliefs and natural confidence instead. Time Line Therapy™ is unique in its approach and resolves issues remarkably quickly without having to go into a lot of details. For more information click on this link: Time Line Therapy™.
Deepen into these concepts. Read Lifting the Veils of Illusion, 7 Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment and The Foundations of Mastery, 12 Steps to a Fulfilled Life.
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