How To Embrace Anxiety
In this episode I talk about:
- What it’s like to be extra sensitive to the world
- Social anxiety and panic attacks
- How I use mindfulness to move through anxiety and fear
And so much more.
Listen to the short podcast above or you can read the transcript below.
TRANSCRIPT of ‘How To Embrace Anxiety’
Hi there you’re listening to the first episode of podcast for the soul, I’m your host Kelly Martin.
Now something that’s really close to my heart and something that’s really been very painful over my life is anxiety I was incredibly shy child growing up and very sensitive to the world around me, I seemed to absorb the feelings of people around me and didn’t really understand why or what was happening.
People Pleasing During Anxiety
As things went on in life I became just very frightened and afraid of the world, meeting with people, socialising, public speaking. Meeting new people was just really terrifying for me I had this deep feeling of I wasn’t good enough and because of this I went out into the world trying to prove myself. I spent a lot of time trying to please other people.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Now anxiety can come about in the body through breathlessness, we can have panic attacks, we can get sweaty palms.
One of the things that really affected me was if I was socialising I would speak very fast. It was like I needed to get everything over and done with, I wanted to escape. It was much easier for me to go towards people and ask them questions. If I saw somebody on the street that I knew, or I hadn’t seen for a while I would walk in the other direction because I was terrified of what they were going to say.
What they were going to ask? I didn’t know how to respond I had this habit of blushing quite a lot back then and I tried many different things to try and get rid of anxiety. I Tried drinking alcohol, which seemed to make me more socially confident. I over ate a lot because I was so shy and reclusive because I just didn’t want to socialise with groups of people.
Fighting Anxiety Doesn’t Work
When I got into my thirties I began to realise that fighting anxiety was actually perpetuating anxiety.
the more I tried to get rid of the feelings the stronger they became to the point where I’d avoid anything that involved other people, I didn’t even go for interviews in jobs because I thought it would be too scary. I turned down a lot in my past and I held myself back a lot because of low self-esteem and low self-confidence because of anxiety.
Mindfulness and Anxiety
In my thirties I discovered something called mindfulness meditation. When I began to practice this meditation technique where you become more observant of how you’re feeling, you watch your breath, you observe how you feel and what arises within you and you become more of a watcher, a distant watcher Instead of being so immersed in the feelings that take place
What I discovered was that the feelings were not who I was, who we I am is so much bigger than the fears and anxiety or any sadness that arises and I started to look at my feelings and the thoughts that came before them and realised they’re like children, the feelings that arise within us, like small frightened children.
Now if a small child walked into your room today and it was really scared you’d pick them up into your arms and you hold them close, you’d soothe them, you’d give them love. You would give them attention and nurturing
Now this is what we need to do with anxiety.
Sensitivity and Self-Compassion Is Key
We can try many quick fixes, but they generally don’t work because our feelings and our emotions are there for a reason.
Those of us who suffer from anxiety more than likely are just extra sensitive to the world around us, and how we feel.
Feelings are not the enemy, but they can become the enemy when you suffer from anxiety. When you feel anxiety or fear arising look at that feeling, become curious.
Where is it within your body?
Does it have a colour? And what size and what shape is it?
Is it real?
Worrying and Anxiety
Often anxiety is about perceived fear in the future I was brought up worrying a lot. I was taught to worry, and I soon realized that as humans we have this ‘fight-or-flight’ feeling inside of us, it’s very cellular, it’s very raw and I feel that many of us are still experiencing anxiety in the way that we did many many generations ago.
Anxiety was actually a gift. There was a protective instinct if tigers or Lions were running towards us, we’d run and flee. All the adrenaline would pump up inside of our body. We try to get away from the perceived danger. Our bodies and our feelings are still responding to this in the same way.
But this time the perceived danger is not real. We’re basing how we feel on what we perceive to be coming so the next time that you feel really anxious about something, perhaps you just wake up feeling anxiety, and you don’t know why?
How To Move Through Anxiety
Sit for a few moments
Take some deep breaths if you are able, if not just simply watch your breath.
Allow the feelings to come up and bring them into your heart.
Because all feelings are like children, and they need our attention and love. The more we welcome what arises, the more that which arises has space to move and evolve and change.
If you imagine anxiety in the past you might have pushed it away, you may have really resisted it through over eating or drinking or drugs or some other type of distraction?
But it was still within your body and was still within your energy.
Now imagine it really compacted within you, but if you stop and watch and welcome it, allow it to be without fighting it, you probably notice that it softens. It doesn’t have any edges anymore.
And because of this It can move through your body and out.
Don’t see anxiety as an enemy anymore.
Try and witness it like a really concerned parent it was just loving and unconditional.
Allow yourself to receive you and own how you feel.
Anxiety and the Past
Now anxiety Is just one of many feelings that we feel, but it’s something that we can shift and move through, we can manage it.
Now don’t ‘allow your feelings’ with the purpose of getting rid of anxiety, that’s one thing that I really recommend not doing.
Because by doing that you’re literally just pushing the inner child aside, because the feelings that come up tend to come from that place inside that is the inner child.
But in the child, it may be scared and fearful because of past experiences and that anxiety arises because the inner child feels it’s protecting us from a perceived threat in the future. So, allow whatever arises to come up.
You’re worth this time, you’re worth this presence.
You can live with anxiety.
It won’t kill you as much as panic attacks feel like it will, if we just watch the panic attack when it happens and mentally just give ourselves some love, we deserve to feel loved in that time in that moment.
Anxiety is something that a lot of people suffer from.
You’re not alone when you have anxiety. And I understand that you may not wish to leave your home, you may be scared to go out to meet new people.
But one thing that I found was I had to immerse myself in those experiences that I was scared of.
Facing The New
After a long time of avoiding socialising and meeting new people and engaging with the world, I started to put myself out there more I joined friendship groups and I joined the groups on MeetUp.Com and I began to meet new people.
And yeah, I was scared, there was fear. There was immense fear arising when I first started to do it. I would shake and I would cry sometimes, I was so scared of doing new things.
Because with anxiety we’re scared of change, we’re scared of what that will mean for us.
How will it affect us in our daily lives?
But the fear of the anxiety is often more than the actual experience.
Now feeling anxiety is different to drowning in anxiety. We can drown in the feeling by pushing it away and fighting it, hating it, but when we become aware and allow it to arise and be, it takes a new quality into it, it’s so different.
And the more you put yourself out there, even if it’s just in a small way.
- Going out to do a little bit of shopping
- Meeting a new friend or an old friend
- Going on a trip catching a bus or a train
- Just going out into the world a little bit, people watching first
Allow yourself to feel the feelings and be really compassionate, you’re doing something new it’s really brave and courageous.
Whenever anybody does something new there’s always this feeling of anxiety or fear, but over time it becomes more a feeling of excitement, because anxiety and fear are on the other end other end of the scale from excitement.
It’s essentially the same feeling. To see an emotion in the body, body doesn’t really recognise the difference, but we perceive it differently. And I know you can do this because I have.
Now anxiety is not completely gone from my life, but I’m not afraid of it anymore, and I don’t try and get rid of it, and I don’t feel like I am anxiety anymore.
It’s so easy to identify and think that we are what we feel, but we are so much bigger.
Emotions and feelings, they just pass on through. They always change.
It’s like the clouds in the sky. The clouds just pass on through, it changes, the sun comes out, the sky clears and then more clouds come in different types and shapes, but we are more the sky.
We’re the vessel, the vehicle that holds and experiences all of this life.
So, the next time you feel anxiety just remember it will pass.
It’s not going to kill you.
But it will make you stronger the more you’re able to embrace it with love and presence.
And soften how you view it, It’s just a feeling, it’s just a label.
You’re a sensitive person you’re a sensitive human being and that’s very powerful. Vulnerability can be a strength. It’s not a weakness
The more we’re able to look at our feelings with love the more they can change and the more our life changes.