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We all have bouts of anxiety. It can stem from internal or external sources. The potential for anxiety to arise is ever present. Some experience anxiety more frequently than others, self-perpetuating this state of being with negative self-talk and "what if" scenarios mentally played over and over. Some use it as a motivator to prepare for an important meeting or presentation.
Depending on the intensity of the anxiety, it can be debilitating or motivating. Anxiety can be self-managed in most cases, without the assistance of medication. With mindfulness toward your personal anxiety patterns, it is possible to become an anxiety expert able to control the level and intensity of the anxiety, as well as the duration.
To recognize your personal patterns of anxiety, ask yourself three questions: What triggers it? What sustains it? What allows you to release it?
Start by reviewing the list of causes below, and see which ones you find are most frequent in your anxiety repertoire.
Causes and cures of anxiety include:
1. Cause: Staying in limbo keeps the tension high.
Cure: Make a decision! Even if you take another direction later, the act of making a choice relieves 80 percent of the stress.
2. Cause: Taking on the problems of others/trying to control others.
Cure: Focus on what you need to do to take care of your own life and let others live their life and make choices for themselves...even if you don't agree with them.
3. Cause: Trying to control circumstances that are out of your scope of influence.
Cure: Recognize the aspects of the situation that you have direct control over and where you can make an impact. In every case, you have control over yourself, what you believe, the actions you take, and your emotional response to the situation.
4. Cause: Negative self-talk, such as "I'm not good enough," "Nothing ever works out for me," or "I have a dark cloud following me around."
Cure: Be aware when the negative self-talk starts and stop it as soon as you can. Then challenge the thought with an alternative statement. Rather than "I'm not good enough," think of something you've done recently where you've succeeded. Even small accomplishments such as reorganizing your closet (which is no small task in some cases), and give yourself kudos for that.
5. Cause: Using global generalizations. Words like "all," "everything," "everyone," "nothing," "never," and "always" create a perspective that lumps together experiences rather than looking at them for their individual attributes.
Cure: Take each situation separately and identify the strengths and challenges it presents.
6. Cause: Looking at the huge goal before you to the point of feeling overwhelmed and incapacitated.
Cure: Cut the goal into manageable pieces and accomplish the ultimate goal one step at a time.
7. Cause: Having a doom and gloom perspective; believing the world is against you and that no amount of effort can change that. If you hear yourself complaining and being a naysayer to others, this not only prompts but exacerbates anxiety.
Cure: Find the silver lining, look for the glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark situation, seek to discover the lesson held within the difficult circumstance, and encourage others to achieve their goals.
8. Cause: Resistance to change.
Cure: Be resilient in the face of change. Transitions and transformations are inevitable. Rather than fighting against it, see what benefit is held within the shift. Change can be a good thing.
9. Cause: Stagnation. This occurs when a shift or change is desired, but no action toward creating that change is taken.
Cure: Do something you've never done before. Go to a new restaurant, visit an art museum or attend a craft fair, get inspired to move beyond your comfort zone.
10. Cause: Clutter and disorganization. Too much stuff stifles the flow of energy through a space and causes mental confusion and agitation. Disorganization creates procrastination, which leads to anxiety.
Cure: Purge your possessions. Clear the clutter. Physically clean your home/office/sacred space. You will feel lighter, as will the energy in the space, more focused, and more motivated.
11. Cause: Jealousy. This can include fear of abandonment or of being left behind; a sense of not being good enough and coveting other's experiences, accomplishments, and possessions.
Cure: Appreciate what you have, identify your unique gifts, or identify what is lacking and take steps to attain it.
12. Cause: Fear, doubt, and worry stemming from personal performance, meeting the expectations of others, health concerns for yourself or others, and uncertainty.
Cure: Go outside and dump the fear, doubt, and worry into the ground. Let the earth take it and transform it. Now go ten feet from that spot and pull in fresh earth energy. Let it fill your body with brightness where you released the darkness. The issues may still be present, but being afraid of, doubtful toward, or worried about them won't help them go away or create a productive mindset. Dumping the heavy energy will give you increased energy with which to cope with whatever is going on.
The bottom line is that anxiety is inevitable. Your approach to managing it is critical to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. In most cases, you have the power to handle it and move it on rather than maintaining the stress. For extreme cases such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, or obsessive compulsive disorder, there are skilled professionals who can help.
Becoming an expert in handling anxiety gives you more energy, greater resilience, and more happiness in your life.
- Diane Wing, M.A.
Diane Wing, M.A. is the founder of Wing Academy of Unfoldment, host of Wing Academy Radio, author of five books, and an experienced guide for those ready to see things differently. When it comes to getting unstuck and feeling great about life, her 9-word philosophy is: Let go. Be grateful. Stay open. See the magick. Find out more at www.WingAcademy.com