I’ve been thinking a lot about resistance over this week, particularly in relation to anxiety so here I’m going to share what’s landed for me and how it’s started to change my understanding of our thinking about anxiety.
Anxiety can feel really uncomfortable and getting worked up and worried a lot of the time is a deeply unpleasant experience so it’s totally understandable that we don’t want to have anxiety.
It’s natural to want to stop is, get rid of it, fix it, be free of it.
But in doing so we resist it, we notice it more, we start to think we have a problem, we don’t understand it and over time the anxiousness may seem to get worse or more persistent, and this becomes even more frightening to us. We then think we have a problem, we give it meaning, and then we try to fight it.
And we get into trying to find ways to control it or manage it - breathing techniques, yoga, self-care, exercise, medication, mindfulness in order to resolve it.
Which is all good but it’s pretty exhausting trying to sort it out and it gives us even more ‘to do’.
What I am beginning to see is that anxiety comes from our relationship with our thoughts, it’s not about our thinking. We can’t help this, as human beings we think thousands of thoughts every day and we can’t stop thinking anxious thoughts, and we all feel anxiety, it’s a normal human emotion and it is transient.
But when we don’t get this, and try to resist anxiety we start to notice or focus on anxious thoughts, we tend to notice them more, and this then leads to another anxious thought and another. Then we start to analyse and over-think, the thoughts speed up and become ever more fearful until we are totally in our thoughts.,…and they feel so real….they are true in this moment and it make us feel really uncomfortable, uneasy, on edge, scared, confused and so on.
And here’s where there’s a misunderstanding as we can often fall into the easy trap that our thoughts are reality: this external situation is making me feel anxious and I don’t like this so I need to do something about it or control it by avoiding it or having strategies to help me feel calm.
But it’s when we recognise that all experiences comes from our thoughts in the moment and that our thoughts are our thoughts, they are neutral, they come and go, then this changes this, and those thoughts don’t have the same power over us. Our relationship with our thoughts is different.
We stop resisting them, we aren’t so bothered by them. Those thoughts aren’t so scary.
And then we return to our natural default position of calm.
This doesn’t mean we won’t have anxious thoughts again or that we won’t fall into the trap of resistance again.
It just means we are wised up to our thoughts.
So the next time you notice yourself resisting a situation or feeling low or insecure about a situation…..step back and ask yourself what is my thinking about this situation. How are you viewing it, what lenses are you wearing?
And when anxiety comes to visit, KNOW that it is a passenger, sit with it for a while knowing that it will pass and YOU will settle back down again.
I wonder what you have noticed as you read this.
If you are struggling with anxiety, I offer a 4 package session with covers more on anxious thinking combined hypnosis to help you through anxiety.