Learning how to deal with anxiety usually involves practicing the steps to an anxiety reduction technique, many of which are more than worth learning.
But what if we discovered how to deal with anxiety by adopting a paradigm that naturally eliminates it? If this were the case, we might automatically prevent unnecessary anxiety before it manifests.
We could call it the anxiety prevention paradigm.
In this post, we’ll learn how to adopt this new way of approaching anxiety. Before we get there, however, we need to take a closer look at two elements of anxiety that most people face.
Two Elements of Anxiety
- Symptoms of Fear
We’re all familiar with fear symptoms: Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, perspiration, dry mouth, tremors, and that dreadful, shrinking feeling!
But what about resistance? Resisting anxiety involves trying to fight it off, as if we could somehow conquer the symptoms once and for all. Who doesn’t wish their anxiety would suddenly disappear?
The problem with this wish is that it only makes matters worse. In fact, resisting anxiety is known among medical professionals to be an intricate part of the problem in chronic anxiety disorders.
The maxim “what you resist, persists” applies heavily in this case.
A different paradigm in overcoming anxiety should include a way to stop resisting the symptoms. Yet, the symptoms of anxiety are nearly unbearable, right? How could we possibly get ourselves to welcome them? We’d need a miracle to pull that off!
Interestingly, something nearly miraculous happens when you stop resisting symptoms of anxiety. You discover just how powerful your resistance has been and how much it has prevented you from healing.
In fact, even the intensity of your symptoms has something to do with how much you resist.
How To Deal With Anxiety By Managing 3 Signs of Resistance
Let’s review 3 signs that resisting the symptoms is preventing you from overcoming anxiety. None of the following is intended to cure anxiety. Rather, these are important insights that can inform any effort to heal.
1. You believe you shouldn’t have anxiety
Anxiety can be an unwelcome intrusion, of course. But as soon as you cross over into believing you shouldn’t have anxiety, you enter into a self-sabotaging realm. It’s a setup for frustration because it is physically impossible for human beings to live without anxiety. We’re hardwired to experience anxiety as an alert to danger.
Moreover, anxiety is an intelligent process. The anxious part of us has a message to deliver. When you resist the message, it tries harder to get through. What you resist, persists!
What would happen if we spent more time listening for the message behind our anxiety?
2. You fear the fear
Fearing fear is a perfect sign that you’re resisting – anticipating (or expecting) the anxiety to return at just the wrong time and ruin your day. In this case, you may very well be contributing to a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re fully expecting the anxiety to return and, of course, it does.
To get an idea how much fearing fear contributes to your overall stress level, consider the following.
Imagine how much time you spend in the state of anxiety that you fear the most. How long do such episodes last?
Next, consider the amount of time you spend thinking about, being preoccupied, or fearing the return of your anxiety. What if you could “delete” the amount of time spent in fear or anticipation of the anxiety?
One iNLP Center life coaching student reported spending about 20 minutes per week in high anxiety. However, during a live coaching demonstration class, she claimed to spend 8-10 hours per day “fearing the moment” when the sense of panic would return.
3. You believe the symptoms are intolerable
No post on how to deal with anxiety would be complete if it didn’t take a clue from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Founder Albert Ellis was famous for reigning clients in from extreme points of view. From these off-base perspectives, we create a ton of unnecessary resistance.
One common, yet extreme, point of view in relation to anxiety is that the symptoms are intolerable. For the sake of clarity, intolerable means “unable to be endured.” For example, when cold weather is intolerable, that means it will kill you if you do not escape it.
Anxiety is not intolerable. It’s uncomfortable. Anxiety can be inconvenient and frustrating. But it will not kill you. It is, by definition, tolerable. If we accept that it’s tolerable, we might be able to handle it much better. However, when we believe anxiety is intolerable, we pile on more stress.
One important key to remember when working to overcome anxiety is to stop resisting the anxiety. It’s quite a paradox! Yet, when you stop trying to avoid anxiety, it helps you manage the symptoms like never before.
How have you learned how to deal with anxiety? Your thoughts may be very helpful to other readers. Inspire us in a comment below!