After 10 years of not being able to rid myself of anxiety I’ve learned a lot. And perhaps one of the most significant lessons I’ve learned about anxiety is that much of my own anxiety is self inflicted and habitual. It sucks to say but it seems to me that at times I’m my own worst enemy.
The fact that fear can even be habitual is not surprising when you think about it. I think the same can be said of any thought or feeling that evokes an intense emotional reaction. For example, if someone tells themselves that they are fat, well eventually they will believe it whether it’s true or not.
Thoughts and ideas that are repeated over a long period of time tend to imprint themselves on our subconscious mind which later causes these ideas, thoughts, and related feelings to replay automatically in the background. So when we have an anxious thought or anxiety symptom the “stored” response or subconscious imprint adds fuel to the initial fear or sensation.
As a result of the above I’ve become a total anxiety junkie. I hate to feel anxious and I also hate all the associated symptoms, but it seems to me that I’m always searching my mind for anxiety like radar looks for planes in the sky, just scanning constantly.
I also don’t want to exaggerate I do have long periods of time when I’m not anxious and don’t think about anxiety as well but eventually, whether I’m thinking about it or not, it tends to come back. I truly believe that much of my own suffering has been kept alive by my own failure to challenge my subconscious fear, essentially I have failed to stop scaring myself.
I just wanted to mention this because I feel that we all would do better if we stop our habit of fear. When someone has anxiety they assume a lot, like the idea that their anxiety is progressive and always getting worse. I’m guilty of this as I’ve gone from one body part to another in search of the next site of anxious focus in the span of a day. And all the while knew what I was doing was ridiculous. The same can be said of the mind since we tend to jump from one negative thought to another in hopes of discovering just what the hell is really causing all this turmoil.
And although we all understand that any anxiety disorder is complex and based on multiple factors, the habit of fear helps to sustain it even if it does not cause it. As many of you know I’m in the throes of a particularly nasty spell of anxiety right now and although it is tremendously unpleasant it’s made me think a lot lately about my own anxiety disorder in a deeper way.
I know I don’t talk a lot about my own anxiety condition because I’m focused on giving advice and making sure other people are functional in their own lives, but I realized how truly habitual I have been with my own nervous illness. I’ll go for weeks without any sign of anxiety, only to become anxious once again with no real cause. And instead of facing the anxiety I simply go to distraction to escape until it leaves me.
But instead what I should have been doing is just accepting it. Not accepting it has caused my body to remain in a constant state of adrenaline production and fatigue. In this state, when the mind is tired and the body worn down, those horrifying thoughts and feelings we sometimes have intensify and last longer. But this is precisely the time to accept it all, not fight.
I’ve been struggling between acceptance and fighting anxiety for a decade. For some reason I’ve never really truly hunkered down and allowed anxiety to consume me without the habitual fear that I add myself thereby keeping my anxiety alive to begin with. It is a painful struggle.
In the past I’ve thought I was accepting but in retrospect perhaps I was doing so half heartedly, not with everything I had. I just seemed to of failed in releasing the tense hold I have on myself over the long term.
Because of all the things I’ve learned and written regarding anxiety disorders I also learned how to maintain my life in regular terms. That is I have a family, full time job, and interest I pursue. Sometimes I get lost in this “normal” living and forget to address my anxiety even when it’s not present, I forget to address my habit of fear. It is when the mind is quiet that one should address their subconscious fears to rewrite the fallacies created during panic attacks and countless false alarms of all kind.
Simply put you have to think to yourself and tell yourself that your fears as they relate to anxiety are untrue. Affirmations must be created and repeated to undo all the months or even years of fear conditioning. You have to challenge the notion that anxiety causes death, illness, or insanity. And this should be done not when you’re freaking out with panic, but when you’re calm and unaffected by fear.
I’m using my own situation as an example because I wanted to highlight that maybe we are not as sick as we think, but also not as well off as we should be either. The habit of fear, the habit of looking for something to fear, a symptom to blame, a new disease to ponder, this is what needs to be eliminated.
We need to rid ourselves of thinking that just because anxiety is in us and provokes fear that we should somehow just give into fear thinking and anticipation. Personally I plan to rededicate myself to truly accepting my own fears. This will not cure my or anyone’s anxiety, as this may or may not be possible, but it will help to not add more fear and sustain the horrible habit of fear.
I’ve wrongly concluded that because I rarely have panic attacks anymore that I’ve won. That anxious thinking alone isn’t as bad. But this it turns out is a complete lie, a lie I told myself so that I didn’t have to deal with the real issue - fear. Again, the anxiety impluse might remain for my entire life, but I know I can improve my reaction to it. To not just tell myself to accept and go through the motions, but to truly let go. We will see.
I think that was a very brave post! Giving advice is great, but sometimes people want to know that advice is coming from someone who understands what they are going through. I've also been battling with my own fears for about 10 years and I saw my same thoughts in your post. Thank you for sharing that.