Anxiety can be extremely debilitating, especially if you don't understand the way it works. The lessons below took hundreds of hours to gather and are the key ingredients to beating anxiety. So go on, use these lessons and beat the anxiety in your own life.
1. QUIT TRYING TO CONTROL THE ANXIETY
This is the biggest mistake you can make. As soon as you start trying to control it or stop it, you've lost. Think of it like quicksand, the more you move the faster you sink. The only solution is to let it be. Yes that's right, let the anxiety take it's course.
Notice the emotion without judging it and revert your attention back to the present moment. You're going to feel the anxiety but keep focused on what's going on in front of you, not inside of you.
Continue to repeat this process and you’ll become better at controlling the anxiety.
2. DON'T ASSOCIATE WITH THE ANXIETY
What does that mean? It means that when you start to feel anxious don't say to yourself: "I am anxious."
That's a big no-no.
Instead you would say: "I am feeling anxiousness." This way there is a degree of separation. Anxiety may be there, but it is not YOUR anxiety. This is a small but crucial trick.
So what do you associate with instead? Think of yourself as the vast ocean. When the anxiety arrives picture the ocean with a roaring storm above. The dark sky, the pouring rain, waves rising and crashing, the wind howling, and thunder striking. Then look within the ocean. Go deep down to it's lowest depths. What do you see? You see calm, you see stillness, and you notice the quiet.
That is what you associate with. You are not the storm above, you are the calm and peace within.
3. VULNERABILITY IS KEY
Vulnerability is not weakness, it's strength. However when most people think of vulnerability, they think of someone/something that is easily harmed or taken advantage of.
Yes, vulnerability is bad if you're camping out in sub-Saharan Africa with hundreds of lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas roaming around. Vulnerability could then literally kill you. However when it comes to your anxiety levels among people and in every day normal situations, vulnerability is the best trait to have.
Vulnerability is the subtle strength of someone who is strong enough to be true to themselves 100% of the time. It's the ability to look the world in the eyes and say: "This is who I am and I don't care if you like it or not." It's the ability to know your strengths and to know your weaknesses, and to be open about who you are as a person. The good and the bad. It's the strength to show others who you really are deep down.
Anxiety comes from a lack of vulnerability. It comes from not being yourself and instead trying to be something you think you should be.
The only solution is to be vulnerable and be you.
4. QUIT LIVING FOR THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS
We're all guilty of this to some extent. It's a natural part of human nature to want acceptance but when it reaches an unhealthy level, people will do anything to feel accepted. We'll change our clothes, our interests, the music we listen to, the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive, the way we speak, and even the person we are.
If you're a person struggling with this then you're likely experiencing a lot of anxiety from it.
If you seek approval from others then your self-confidence will be fragile. It'll be dependent on what other people think of you, and you have almost ZERO control over that. Everything you do will be based around what other people think, and you'll never find peace.
So notice when it happens, and nip it in the butt.
5. ACCEPT YOURSELF
If you can't accept yourself for who you are, then you'll never conquer your anxiety. That's the truth.
This one goes hand in hand with your vulnerability. The difference here is that not only are you open about who you are, but you are okay with who you are. You understand that having strengths and weaknesses is a normal part of life. Heck even the most famous and accomplished people had their strengths and weaknesses.
Accepting yourself means being open not only to others about who you are, but being open to yourself about who you are.
6. PRAISE YOURSELF
Imagine this: You're heading to a work get-together and you notice the anxiety is starting to build. You decide to use these tools and you notice the anxiety go away. Perfect, it worked. But now what?
Praise yourself! Take pride in the fact that you were able to stay cool, calm and collected. Doing something as simple as this will help increase your self-confidence. Do this over and over again, and you'll notice a difference in how you feel.
Much of our thoughts tend to be negative. We think about how much we hate our boss, that mean thing our significant other said, or how awkward we were the other night. The more we do this, the more our confidence drops. This results in anxiety because the mind isn't at peace.
So make sure to praise yourself, but be mindful that you don't start praising yourself for everything you do. This would mean that you're not being true to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you've done something good, but also accept it when you've failed. This will help keep you in balance, and keep you from getting a big head.
Meditation can be a HUGE help with anxiety. You can use it as a tool for when it arrives - step away from the situation and allow yourself some time to settle the emotions. But it's best used as a preventative strategy to decrease both the number of anxiety occurrences, and strength of the anxiety.
There have been a plethora of studies over the past few decades which have proved time and again that meditation helps foster a calmer mind, reduce anxiety, and create a sense of peace.
So how do you meditate?
Find a place that is quiet and sit down. How you sit or what you sit on doesn't entirely matter, but generally meditators will sit on the ground or cushion, in a cross-legged fashion. You'll then focus on your breath going in and out of your nose. Thoughts will come and go, but your goal is to not get lost in thought and continue to focus on your breath. If you do catch yourself in thought, simply revert back to your breath. Do this over and over as you notice the anxiety go away and the peace set in.
I do have to clarify that there are many other types of meditation, but the one I have described here is arguably the most popular version that many practitioners use. I, myself, like to use this method.
Don't expect to beat the anxiety over night. That's a fallacy.
You don't go to the gym and expect to get in shape right away after spending the past few years sitting around watching TV and eating junk food. It doesn't work that way and the same goes for anxiety.
It will take time and it will take hard work. But keep this in mind: nothing good in life comes easy.
It's the struggle and dedication that makes success so sweet. It's the process of growth that makes it worthwhile and changes us for the better. It makes us stronger and more self-reliant. And it's the dedication to beating anxiety that will raise your confidence and turn you into the successful person you know that you can be.