This Stuff is Hard
Making Peace With Your Anxiety
Anxiety is a vicious cycle, right?! It has a way of making a sane person crazy. Jump off the anxiety treadmill and let’s try to make peace with your anxiety. There is no quick fix to anxiety. There is no easy way to make peace. This stuff is hard. But I am living proof that you can make peace with your anxiety.
One of my favorite quotes that I try to live my life by is; Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to be in a the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”–Anonymous. Making Peace with your anxiety does not mean always feeling happy, never dealing with problems, never experiencing pain or sorrow, never moving through hard work. Making peace means recognizing that no matter what changes, transitions or decisions need to be made you can remain grounded, solid and calm in their hearts Anxiety does not have to be a way of life.
I guarantee if you implement the principles in this book on a daily basis…you will build anxiety resilience. When we can experience the snags of life through a place of peace rather than a place of anxiety…life is better. It just takes a daily practice of awareness, curiosity and compassion. Anxiety doesn’t have to have a choke hold on your life. You can make peace with it.
Speaker and Stress Management Coach who teaches techniques to manage anxiety and stress, improve communication and mindfulness, and improve productivity by analyzing values and priorities.
Licensed professional counselor, Nancy Jane Smith, is an author and speaker on the topic of inner wellness and anxiety management. For eight years, she’s worked with individual clients and small groups, helping them get clear on their values and priorities through practical step-by-step processing.
With laid-back storytelling and quick humor, Nancy Jane demonstrates simple principles that help us uncover our needs, decrease negative self-talk, and improve our self-awareness of values and boundaries.
“There’s no secret way to do things right – but there are simple principles that can help us feel better, communicate better, and live happier. I provide ways to implement those principles, and ways to use them to meet challenges with more energy, more confidence, and clearer communication.”
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It all Starts with Awareness
Before you can make peace with your anxiety you need to start building awareness of your anxiety. Anxiety is a pesky little devil because it serves us well. Anxiety keeps us productive, ‘on-top of things’ and successful. At least that is what we tell ourselves. What if I told you that you could have all of those things with less anxiety? What if I told you that in reality your anxiety isn’t helping you at all? Anxiety is just keeping your brain busy…making your body unhealthy and leaving you feeling overwhelmed and overworked.
In this chapter, we will explore the main components of anxiety and the different identities it takes.
The first step in making peace with your anxiety is building awareness of it. Awareness means you start notice you anxiety triggers and responses.
what are your anxiety triggers. What causes your anxiety to flair up?
Feeling lazy? A
What are your responses to anxiety?
Insomnia, physical pain, numbing out with food or alcohol …
Although many people have anxiety, how it manifests varies wildly. The following essays serve as a way for you to think about your anxiety in a different way and help you to start identifying your anxiety triggers and responses. As you start to notice how your anxiety manifests you can start defining anxiety for you and building in healthier responses to it.
That Nasty Voice In your Head
An anxiety sufferers constant companion are the negative thoughts, , that voice in the back of your head that says, “you are a terrible mom”, “you can’t do that”, “who do you think you are”, and on and on and on. It chimes at us throughout the day creating doubt, anxiety, depression, insecurity and overall stuckness.
Experts disagree on where this voice comes from theories range from it is your ego, your lizard brain, your limiting beliefs, even your parents limiting beliefs. You can call it your evil twin, gremlins, vampire, demons or as I like to say your monger. Regardless of how you refer to it–it is THERE and bottom line it is NOT HELPFUL. In fact, it is causing out and out damage.
A monger according to Merriam-Webster is:
“something who attempts to stir up or spread something that is usually petty or discreditable”.
And pretty much that is what our mongers are doing trying to get us to believe something that isn’t 100% true. It isn’t EVIL it isn’t out to get us it is just trying to make us believe something that isn’t 100% true. We can give 1,000 reasons as to why it is doing this: to keep us safe, to protect us from danger, because our parents, teachers, relatives or friends told it to. The WHY doesn’t really matter the point is that the monger acts out.
This series of essays introduces the concept of the monger and tips and tricks for taking the power away from your mean, anxiety provoking inner voice.
The Impossible Quest: Perfectionism
For many anxiety sufferers the quest for perfection is two fold. The quest itself causes us to feel more anxiety and the more anxious we feel the more we convince ourselves that doing it perfectly will ease the anxiety.
Perfection doesn’t exist. We KNOW this rationally and yet, we convince ourselves otherwise. We embrace the imperfections in nature and in our loved ones and yet in our own life…those same imperfections are something we know we can overcome with only a little more time, energy and effort.
We lose perspective that perfection isn’t actually possible that the striving for perfection becomes unhealthy and downright debilitating. The danger of perfectionism is that it serves as a barrier not only from those around us but also from our intuitive selves. By holding on to the belief that we CAN do it perfectly we continually strive for something that doesn’t exist. In an attempt to drive towards an impossible goal we can alienate ourselves and our loved ones.
Maintaining the illusion of perfection is the roller coaster ride from hell. There is never an end, never a victory, and there is always more to do. It is the ultimate chase of the ever moving carrot – because we are questing for something that doesn’t exist. It leaves us feeling anxious, exhausted, and unfulfilled.
Only when we can start to recognize our quest for perfection and the beauty in our imperfection can we start to jump off this never ending treadmill.
This collection of essays discusses the various forms the quest for perfect shows up in our lives and tips for building awareness and resilience for your perfection quest.
Foundational Principles for Peace
When it comes to making peace with your anxiety there are a few foundational principles, this collection of essays discusses these principles in detail. In order to make peace with your anxiety you have to learn how to Trust Yourself and trusting yourself starts with Knowing Your Values, Speaking your Needs and Setting Healthy Boundaries.
When we know our values we know what is most important to us so we can make decisions about relationships, careers, as well as every day interactions. When we can name the top five things we value we will know what ‘fits’ and what doesn’t ‘fit’ into our lives. The analogy I love for values is to think about a young baby tree. Young trees when they are first planted have a tendency to get blown down by the first strong wind. To keep them strong and healthy sometimes they need to be helped up with wires and posts. Eventually after they had developed a root system the trees were able to sway in the wind and not get blown down. Similar to the baby trees, if you aren’t living your life with a strong root system (value system) you have nothing guiding you, nothing holding you up and you are more likely to collapse under pressure. You have to rely on outside support, (e.g. alcohol, food, coffee) to build you up and keep you going. When you have a strong value system, you can sway with the pressures of life and not get beaten down. Because you are able to continually come back to your center – your values, you are better able to make choices that help you live happier and with less anxiety
One of the most common traits of someone with anxiety is they put there needs last. I want to remind you that your needs matter. Your thoughts, hope, dreams, desires are important. It is ok to ask. It is ok to be uncomfortable with asking. It is ok to let someone else struggle so they can meet your needs (they may even enjoy being able to help out). You don’t have to bend like Gumby to make sure everyone around you is happy.
Setting boundaries is absolutely necessary to making peace with anxiety. Until we can say no, tell someone to stop treating us poorly or admit we are overwhelmed anxiety will always be telling us to do more. The concept of setting boundaries can be a confusing one. We are taught to have curiosity about other people, to be compassionate about what they are dealing with so how can we then set a boundary which feels so cold and mean. Boundaries are a healthy part of life and are a definite challenge to set. As you practice setting them they can get easier, I promise.
The essays in this chapter will answer some of your questions about these foundational principles and provide some helpful hints for implementing them into your life
It doesn’t have to be painful: Meditation & Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are an anxiety sufferer’s worst nightmare. Ask anyone who deals with anxiety what they hate the most and most likely the answer will be sitting still. The idea of a quiet room and the request to lie still for hours on end would make them run screaming for the hills.
And yet, stilling still is the BEST thing for anxiety. Sitting still is hands down the most powerful way to make peace with your anxiety.
The essays in this chapter discuss creative ways to start implementing meditation and mindfulness into your day.
Mindfulness does not have to mean sitting on the floor repeating OM an hour a day. Mindfulness means paying attention to your mind, body and spirit. Taking time each day to shut down the never ending conveyor belt of thoughts and just be present to what your body feels like.
Mindfulness gives you a break from the anxious mind and allows you to experience life without the never-ending to-do list. This space is necessary to start making peace with your anxiety.