Anxiety! Friend or Foe?
Hi there, this is DD Devin of Deevine Intervention Lifestyle & Nutrition Health Coaching. Today I’m coming to you from Beautiful Catalina Island…and I’m sure people lose sleep here over anxiety☹
I know of A Lot of people wo struggle with anxiety….especially those monkey mind thoughts that keep you awake at night, and so I thought it especially important to share with you, how to not only Deal with it, embrace it, acknowledge it, But…Dance with Anxiety!
How I describe anxiety is like Fixating on our Worst nightmares coming true….and that we won’t have the skills or courage, strength or hope to deal with the pain of loss…or something like that, and we Make up All kinds of imagined nightmares to accompany that train of thought.
I just started watching myself stacking up misery against myself and imagining All kinds of bad things happening….Oh, what if an earthquake comes, where would I go? I’m going to be the one that gets bit by the West Nile mosquito. Is my door unlocked, is someone going to come in and kill me? I have this lingering pain, is it cancer? How do people know if they have cancer anyway? How am I going to pay my taxes? What if I become a bag lady. What if my child is sick and I can’t help them? I’m 59 years old and God forbid, what if I get pregnant? What if I tell the truth, and it kills someone I love? What if I lose my mind, like aunt Betty? Argh….
What is your imagined nightmare that Hasn’t Actually happened, that crushes you and, how do you regain Trust of your Okay-ness in the face of anxiety?
And, That’s what this talk is about. This is a topic that we are All in together, and this conversation is one that I need, as much, and, as I sit with this, as much as I can, share the insights and wisdom I’ve gained, so this is an experience that we are All in together.
So, as I’ve been looking at this, again, trying to think: What Is the experience of Anxiety, and, at its Core, it’s, it’s a Loss of Trust in Yourself, and the Universe!
It’s Pulling in, External evidence, that we’re Totally Screwed, instead of, the Internal recognition, of Wow, wow, We’re just Exactly where we are….Even if We Don’t Like It! 😊
Now, Intellectually, I understand, the Anxious thoughts, aren’t going to kill me. It’s actually Believing the anxious thoughts, that Consumes us! Those imaginary nightmare scenarios where some devastation or pain is Gonna Get me, or someone I love, that’s one of my imaginary fears, one of my imaginary nightmares, it’s not going to get me, it’s going to get someone I love, and I’m not going to have the courage to cope.
And, it’s Not Real, right? It’s only a narrative, but, it certainly Feels real in the nervous system when it’s happening. So, I got curious…..How Do I actually make that FEEL SO REAL?
Let’s pretend, let’s say you were on the payroll to feel anxious…. let’s say you were on the payroll to feel anxious, and you are Very Good at your job, and one day you couldn’t make it to work, and so you called me in to substitute for you for a day. So, Here I am! And I said, Sure! I’ll do that job for you for a day….and given that you have Such an Excellent work ethic, you wanted to make sure that I would do an Excellent job being anxious in your place, you didn’t want to lower your standard, so….
How would you Teach me, to be Anxious, the way that you do it? And, you might say something like, well…..
Step 1: is, imagine something terrible is going to happen.
Ummm….Ok, I got it….something terrible is happening….
Step 2: Put All your energy into your head.
Ahhh, ok, I’ve got that.
Step 3: Breathe shallow, and fast….(breathe) and irregularly, like ah ahha hhha ah
Ahhh, I’ve got that, I’m starting to get a feel for that role…
Step 4: Anticipate with Certainty your own pain or certainty or pain and suffering of someone you love or feel responsible for.
Ah, OK, I’ve got that!
And, Step 5: Stack up Even More Misery against yourself….
Neiche says: Madness is the result of not uncertainty, but of Certainty!
That made me think that, Anxiety, is, the experience, of Certainty, in the Direction of a Nightmare!…😊 Arhg!!!!
Does anyone else experience this kind of spiraling and stacking against yourself? What do you notice happens to your breath? Does it get shallow, quick? What happens to your breath?
Intellectually, I notice I try to tell myself that these thoughts are not real….and, relax, it’s not real, it’s just a story….But Inside, I’m being thrashed in the undertow of worry and self-doubt and ugly self-criticism, bordering on self-abuse as I stack up Allll the things that are wrong with me….That I’m flawed, that I have failed in some way, that I’m not good enough and that I’m a fraud, that I’m broken and this Nightmare will Never end!
And, I try to find my center……..slow my Breath….do some kind of mindfulness practice….but it was alllll like battling a dragon with a flimsy noodle for a sword! Ha! It doesn’t work very well….
And then….recently, I had a dream, that occurred, at the moment, as a nightmare…..It was a moment, much like this, but I was sitting on the shore, by the water and, all of a sudden, as I looked out int the water, this BIG HAIRY MONSTER, Emerges…almost like a Grisly Bear, And, it feels like it’s coming towards me…..I was afraid it wanted to attack me…and when I woke up, the Feeling, the Kinesthetic Feeling, in my body Felt Soooo Palpable, it felt, Sooooo Real….I couldn’t shake the dream for days!
So, I called up my coach….Yes, I am a coach and I have a coach….I think we should All have a coach because as I imagine a world where it would be Absurd not to have an advocate for our own well-being, including in our minds and our hearts and our bodies…right? But that’s another note….
And so I called up my coach and she says, Ok, so, you’re having the experience of Anxiety. What if Anxiety was Not the Enemy, but what if Anxiety was a Messenger, Sent, by Some Part of you, Longing to be Met?
Because I told her about the dream and this bear, and when I Looked at it through that lens, I realize that this bear wasn’t coming to Attack me, the Bear, was actually like a Mama Bear….the mama bear that was coming to say that, hey honey, there’s Some Part of you that’s wanting to be met….
Something is knocking at the door of your heart, what is it? What are you postponing While it may appear to be Knocking from the Outside, get Curious and look again….
Maybe, just maybe, the waves of sensation and emotion and narratives are ‘Special Invitations’ and perhaps, the Kindest act of Self-Care and Self-Love, is to Finally slow down, stop trying to run away and see!
Now, I realized, that I needed to create some distance with the anxiety because I was too Overwhelmed to Slow down enough to see. So I needed to create a little distance, Otherwise, I was too lost in the swirl, and This Takes Patience!
I help my clients by teaching them to dissociate – to step back – to create distance from our greatest fears and anxieties and it helps them get perspective, when there stuck is this swirl…Now, I had this technique in my little bag of tricks, so I was able, to dissociate, but it took Patience. This is not instant, it takes Patience.
What I did, in order to dissociate, to be able to create some distance with anxiety was something that I was kind of terrified to do at first because the Illusion, of being in the anxiety is that if I Stop Feeling the Big Bad Beast is gonna come and get me, the Boogy Man is gonna come and me, But, if you Bracing, and be on the lookout so I can ‘get it’ First, This weird dance with nothing right? 😊
It’s like the Nothing that we’re sparring with.
So what I did was, I WELCOMED my anxiety as a Guest!
And, instead of Trying to Fight it, I said, OK, come in….sit down….stay as loooong as you need…..And, here’s the important piece….
I gave her a Name! It could be a him for you, mine was a her; I called her Miss Munchin. And, I asked Miss Munchin, Why was she Disturbing me So Much and Filling my head with Horrible thoughts, Especially at Night when I’m trying to sleep?
And she said, to get Get Your Attention silly! There’s too many competing priorities. You keep running away from me so I have to get louder and scarier and until you…you can’t Refuse to pay attention!
So, I turned to Miss Munchin and ask…hat do you Want from me?
And Miss Munchin said,
Oh, Darling, it’s not what I want From you, it’s what I want For you! Something in your Life is NOT working for you, and it’s time, to evolve Some aspect, of How you are doing your life.
So, if You experience anxiety, Just take a moment, to notice, What, might not be working for you in your life? And, you might say, I don’t know what’s not working for me……You Do know. So, it’s Slowing down enough, Stop turning your back, and just be with it.
Something in your life is likely not working for you and it’s time to Evolve, Some Aspect, of what How are doing your life….and I Protested! I said, Miss Munchin, I said, No, No, It will Kill Me, or someone I love! And, It will be my fault! I don’t have the courage, I don’t have the strength. Why are you expecting this of me? I can’t do this! And Miss Munchin said, You Do. You will discover you are More Courageous than you give yourself credit for.
Oh, and let me be clear, this change, that’s calling to happen, is Not only for you, It’s for Everyone around you. They signed up to!
You Think, that it will hurt them, and it might, at first, they might protest, be disappointed, they may not like it, they might be angry, but n the long run, What is Best for us, is Best for those we love too!
And, the reason I can say this, is because we’re Heart Centered Beings, and you know if you have a good well-meaning heart. So, Trusting, that in the long run, what is Best for us, is best for those we love too!
Now, I hoped that the anxiety would just evaporate in that moment…it didn’t’. Not Completely!……But, instead this anxiety, instead of being this Monster, that could Pounce at any moment, it became a Teacher….a Messenger, carrying Keys that’s I’ve now adopted as a personal practice and have begun using with others who are dancing with anxiety.
So, I want to share that process with you, that it might help You feel safer in your skin or give you something, on the menu, that Feels Better, than being completely swallowed up, by your thought patterns. So, the first part, if you want to Practice this Dance, The First step:
is to think of something, that makes you feel anxious! So, if you’re willing to dance with me in the anxiety, let’s do this together…
Think of some worry that you have… (got it?)
Now become aware of the Thoughts you think, and the sensations that go along with that…..Remember what I said earlier….if you were going to teach me how to get anxious, How You get Anxious, There’s probably a mental movie playing in your head….and there’s some emotions that go along with that, some feeling of grief, anger, terror, fear, helplessness, hopelessness….something that goes along with that….and then, some kind of sensation in your body….
For me, it occurs as a choking, suffocating feeling and shortness of breath. It’s almost like I’m not even breathing. So, that Combination for me, if I was going to teach you how to be on the job for me, that’s the sequence I’d probably put together. So, okay?
So, that’s Step 1!
Step 2….is to Witness and Welcome the anxiety as a Friend. Realize that You are Not your anxiety. You are simply the one Experiencing the anxiety, and the Feelings, are Fuel for Change!
You Become the Witness, by giving your Anxiety a name, like a cartoon, like Miss Munchin, or Donna, or mary or bob or Gordon or Pickle-head or mickey mouse!
So, I’m curious, what’s the Name you’d like to bestow, that cartoony character, that Part of you that is on the payroll for, experiencing anxiety?
So give your anxiety a name….and then, welcome her by saying….Ahhhh, Hello Miss Munchin, Beautiful Catalyst for Change. I’m sorry that I was judging you as the enemy, I forgot, that you were simply bringing to my attention the opportunity to change my relationship with life.
Thank you, for being in my life. Thank you for Not allowing me to Turn away from this invitation to grow. Ok?
The next step, is to Steady.. and Slow your breath… by Patiently… and I say Patiently, because I notice that I am short of breath because I didn’t even take the time to take a breath all the way through. Steady and Slooooow you breath by patiently inhaling, and exhaling alllll the way….
I love to think about Smelling the roses, and blowing out the candles….Alll 59 of them for me😊 Notice, where your breath wants to stop….and Breathe in, and out, in a relaxed, patient manner.
Remind yourself that these feelings won’t last forever. Smell the flowers, blow out the candles. The breath pattern of patience, and kindness. If you were breathing like a patient, kind person, how would you breathe?
Lets practice that now, Again, Smell the flowers, blow out the candles…..
Now, what I’ve been practicing this last week, ever since I had that bear dream, the big loveable mama bear dream, is taking little breathing breaks throughout my day….30 seconds, one minute, 2 minutes….No matter How busy things seem to be, your level of anxiety Acts to remind you, of ow often, your heart Requires, Slower Breaths for the benefit, of your Total well-being!
And, when we are not taking these breath breaks for ourselves, what happens? Anxiety, Fear, and Doubt! So, when doubt comes up throughout the day, Breathe it out. When in Doubt, Breathe it out😊 And this will help steer your thoughts in a Good direction!
There’s a quote, not sure who it’s from but it goes: Worry, is a misuse of the imagination. And another: Worry, is like praying for things we don’t’ want. And my favorite; Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair….it gives us something to do but gets you nowhere. 😊
On the other hand, Deep Breaths are Inspirations. So, slower breaths throughout the day, will give you Fresh, Positive ideas!
Step 4: is to Extend Gratitude, Curiosity and Willingness. So, we can say t Miss Munchin, Thank You for this encounter. Thank you, for inquiring me to get more Honest, and then, Dare, to ask the Question: What’s the Healthiest Choice, that I have been putting off? This is a very important question.
What is the Healthiest Choice that I have been putting off OR, Postponing?
It’s the Postponing, that gives us so much Anxiety. That’s one of the ways that anxiety is a Messenger. It’s here to tell us that we’re Postponing something, for our well-being.
If you steady your breath, and come with a Willingness, Anxiety will Tell you….and Truthfully, you already know what you have been putting off, don’t you? Yess, you do. Notice, that anxiety dissipates when it is given space, and a voice.
And, step 5 is to get an Action. Make a Small change, that honors your needs, and whatever you’ve been postponing…take action!
Now, here’s a little extra credit to stay steady, it’s a discipline, or a blissapine….it’s a practice….Make a list each day of at least 3 things you are doing Right!
What are 3 things, that you’ve done today? Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in the world, or how unjust things are in your life, and imagining things that haven’t actually happened, or getting mad about things people have, or haven’t done….take the time to Celebrate, how peacefully and honorably and lovingly, you choose to respond to what life Is handing you Right Now.
You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try. So, what went Right today?
And, if you’re feeling anxiety or can’t come up with anything….do the practice, Smell the Flowers,…. Blow out the Candles…and give yourself Permission to acknowledge yourself no matter How small, for what you are doing Right.
When, we relate to anxiety as an enemy, it will consume us, paralyze us in fear. On the other hand, when we decide to, get into an Intimate relationship with anxiety it becomes a Powerful Catalyst, steering us towards our greatness, Steering us towards our Aliveness!
This is just a Sliver, of the journey I take my personal clients on during my 90-day Total Body Transformation. It’s not just about food and movement…it’s about living a life with No Regrets. I can’t even imagine a life without it!
It’s given me the tools to become a better Human, a better Friend, a better Mother, Wife, Woman!
When you endeavor into Masterful Coaching, you no longer fear your thoughts, or your pain, or other people’s pain…and That is so Incredibly Powerful.
If you would like to learn more about these kinds of skills, I’d love to invite you to sign up at the link attached to this video, where we can have a virtual mocktail, and marinate on all things you.
Namaste my friend.