Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Intense anxiety is not in itself a problem"

I know, did we read that right on page 60? Isn't that what we struggle and fight not to feel, worrying that we'll be washed away in all that misplaced intensity?

Let's look at that again: "Intense anxiety is not in itself a problem. Many people experience intense anxiety, even panic attacks, in their daily lives and continue to do what's important to them." " Intensely felt emotions need not be a barrier . . . they can be welcomed in as a vital part of you." (p. 60)

We know from research that when people accept or even invite their anxiety, it often dissipates. But this takes that notion one step further. Is it possible to welcome anxiety as a vital part of ourselves? Is there value to our anxiety that we're overlooking? Anxiety, energy and excitement are so closely related. Some even say that anxiety might be linked with their energy source and, used with intention, can be useful.

The other morning I woke up feeling tense and anxious. I started thinking "what if I used my adrenaline to my advantage - you know, jump into my high energy tasks and/or exercise when my engine is already revved up?" I remembered watching PBS's "This Emotional Life" a few months back. During episode two, there was a writer who said that his anxiety started getting better when he realized it was something he could learn to use; his anxiety was like his own personal caffeine pump. Accepting what is and making anxiety work for you - now there's a concept!

Something I'm enjoying about this read is the way the authors are turning old, stubborn beliefs onto their heads. If intense anxiety is not a problem or a barrier to doing what's important to you, imagine the possibilities!


amy said...

As you know, I'm not reading this book with you....but I LOVED this post! Thank you for sharing!! Very inspiring :)

Meredith said...

I think this was a great post as well. I only wish I could look at anxiety as such a blessing! It is easy for me to say that when I am not having an attack, but when one comes on it is so darn uncomfortable it is hard to look at it that way! : )

Anxiety Girl said...

Thanks Amy! I love that quote & it's been tucked in my idea notebook for some time. I know you're reading a couple of other books - which one is speaking to you right now? And, how's the CBT going?

Hey Meredith,
I know, it's SO hard in the moment and, for me, the "why is this still so hard" message afterwards kicks my butt, too. I had a moment the other day where I felt my brain was playing tug of war between fighting off anxious thoughts/feelings and trying to apply the attitude of "this is exactly what I want" and "I'm just going to surf the waves today". It didn't feel good at all.

But, I think these changes take time and as long as we're getting out there and doing the work of living, we can look at the internal messages as parallel instead of competing. I'm scared something bad will happen AND Bring it on. Surely the good stuff will get stuck in their too at some point.

How have you been? What's going on with your anxiety these days? Always good to "see" you.

Kristin :)

Meredith said...

Hi Kristen! My anxiety has kind of been status quo. I think I am getting better at accepting that it is a part of me and not getting so worked up at the setbacks. I have done a bunch of things lately that I definitely had avoided for the past year since my anxiety came back. I went to the dentist and got my hair done! For some reason those two things were anxiety provoking for me. I guess it is the idea of being trapped somewhere if I have an attack and what people will think. I had some anxiety but I rode it out and it was fine.

I like how the book talks about acceptance and being able to live a happy life with anxiety. I think I focused so much on wanting a "cure" and to get rid of that last 1% of anxiety that it was giving me anxiety! ha ha. I am always envious of other people who don't have to deal with anxiety everyday. However, I realize that you never know what is going on inside anyone else and I put up a good front too! My husband can never tell when I am having anxiety unless I tell him, and very few of my friends know that I have it. A few of my friends have commented on how relaxed I always seem in any situation! ha! Anyway, it has helped me to tell myself that everyone has "something" and my something just happens to be anxiety. It makes me feel so much better to chat with you girls and know there are other people out there who feel just like me! We have our own little online support group here! : )

Amy M. said...

It is amazing how most people that have anxiety manage to hide it so well. There are many people around me on a daily basis that have no clue that I have had panic attacks since I was under 5 years of age. They would probably laugh if I told them that, because they would consider me to be one of the most calm and laid back people they know. For me, part of dealing with the anxiety is admitting to people (within the appropriate setting or situation) that I have had and do suffer from issues related to anxiety. Trying to hide anxiety only intensifies it, in my opinion.

Anxiety Girl said...

Hi Meredith -- that's awesome you've been taking on so much lately! I just got my hair cut today & it definitely brings up some anxiety for me, too - even though I love it at the same time. I was feeling frustrated that I was feeling anxious today and was having a hard time embracing it, but I think moving forward regardless of what emotions pop up makes it easier over time.

I agree with you & Amy M. - no one can ever tell I'm anxious - not even my husband unless I tell him. I'm seen as really calm and relaxed - even by those who know about my anxiety. I think both calm/relaxed and anxious are valid and I do feel calm much of the time. Maybe because we prefer feeling "even keel", the anxiety rocks our world even more.

Most of my friends know about my anxiety & the blog, but still I resist feeling anxious in front of anyone. It's so hard to stop the struggle and accept, isn't it?

I'm glad we're all in this together!

Ashley said...

Hey everyone!
It's been a crazy couple of weeks (so busy with school)! I have been forced out of my comfort zone everyday. It's been great for me. Yes, there are times that I'm shaking like a leaf but I get through it. I'm feeling different about my anxiety. Kind of like, "so what...I have anxiety...I'm still here."
Kristen: Making my anxiety work for me was a very intriguing idea. Sounds great but I think I'm just starting to float through the waves of panic. Maybe that will come later. You said something in one of your other posts about anxiety peaking its head around to see if you would play. I totally felt that Friday while I was taking Tripp to school. I immediately thought, “Fine, give it your best shot, I’ll still make it to school whether you’re here or not!” It was gone almost instantly!

I don't hide my anxiety very well. Once I tell people that I have anxiety they usually say that they could tell somthing was wrong. Knowing that about myself makes me want to tell people more often than not.

This has been a great book! thanks Kristen.


Anxiety Girl said...

Hey Ashley,

Sorry my reply is so late - we just got back from being away for 2 weeks and are in the same boat juggling three active kids!

I think all the work you're doing is just awesome! Taking on difficult tasks regularly, working on floating through sensations and even asking anxiety to bring it on. You rock!

Sometimes, I think it would be better if I couldn't hide my anxiety. Then, it would be more out in the open and maybe I would lose some of the "what if people see how I feel inside?". It is freeing to just put it out there and to do so in the moment it's happening. I'd love to hear more about how you handle those situations so we can learn from you. :) Take care & "see" you soon!

Sarah said...

K, you are so freaking amazing. You are an inspiration for me every day. xoxoxo

Anxiety Girl said...

Love you too, Sarah!! :)