I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life..and it is no fun. 🙁
It causes the physical sensations such as chest pain, panic, numbness in your legs..it is definitely scary and the more I try to control my anxiety, the worse it usually gets..so the initial response to my anxiety is more anxiety.
I don’t think I am the only one, and in fact there are many other people who struggle with anxiety everyday. We live in a stressful world after all..so let’s not feel too bad about it. I do feel embarrassed about my anxiety because I often know my anxiety often comes from irrational thoughts and fear.
So it is very important to catch as soon as you recognize your anxiety and try to identify your “irrational” thoughts and fears. Sometimes we get panicky without even understanding the reasons why because I used not pay attention to my thought process and wen into a full panic mode as soon as physical sensations start to paralyze me.
So let’s start by understanding how anxiety..severe anxiety works. When you have fear (whether it is rational or irrational), it is real to you no matter what anybody else says! My ex boyfriend said to me, “You know, I think you are just overly sensitive.” I was annoyed because that made me anxious even further. I know that I am overly sensitive but that’s not something I had to think about when I was feeling already anxious.
First thing I did was to start recording my thoughts that seem to be provoking high anxiety level..I didn’t really understand the full scope of this until I started to write them down.
I want to share my recent irrational thought. It is really absurd but to me, it is very real and I can’t seem to control it.
1) My boss was recently promoted and she used to ask me to go to lunch with her often, but she doesn’t anymore. The last time she asked me to go was 2 weeks ago..she must be mad at me.
I didn’t really pay attention to this thought or thought deeply about the way I think.. but I became even more anxious as days went by..Every time I have to have a meeting with her, I keep telling myself that I might have offended her and that is why she is not talking to me…
Obviously everybody responds to internal irrational thoughts, fears, conflict differently and I believe that those thoughts are learned during our childhood.
What I discovered was that my boss reminds me of my mother who suffers from borderline personality disorder. My boss is not borderline and she is a completely different person from my mother, but I still have this fear..that I will be punished.
Then it becomes out of control..”crap..get out right now. She will punish me and put me in trouble..maybe she found some errors in my work..” from them, it goes on and on.
I have a good therapist and did talk to her about this finally. She suggested that I write them down, the situations that triggered these thoughts, where these thoughts came up and what time..to see if there is any pattern. I am still working on this, but this exercise helps me externalize my anxiety and helps me put my thoughts and anxiety into perspectives.
My anxiety is a little exaggerated, but it makes sense given how my mother used to treat me as a child. I vividly remember the fear..I knew her punishment was coming..when she looked slightly unhappy for a few seconds..she bursts into anger..chase me with cooking chopsticks…that was pretty scary for a 7-year old girl. 🙁
By writing down my irrational thought, it helps me put things in perspectives. My boss isn’t causing me to feel this paranoid but I am paranoid because my body remembers the pain and the fear I felt as a child and these panicky feelings come up whenever something remotely similar comes up in my life today.
So start journaling, writing your thoughts..
when you are feeling a lot of anxiety now, let’s embrace that as your feeling. Some therapists ask their patients to fight the anxiety but it never worked for me. Anxiety is a pain in the butt, but it is better dealt with as a friend..instead of fighting it, let’s just embrace and give yourself a permission to feel anxious. It is ok..for you or me to feel anxious. We are human and we are still healing from the past. Most of us are..
Imagine a little girl or a boy in you..crying and scared..because she doesn’t want to upset another person..hold that child and reassure her that everything is going to be ok. Do the deep breathing..at least 4-5 times while you console your little girl..
I am still doing this exercise but it seems to work for me.