I want to propose the idea that you are not your anxiety, but that you are a person who struggles with your relationship to anxiety. Many people view themselves as the mental health challenge they experience. “I’ve always been an anxious person,” is something I hear a lot. This is especially true with my clients who identify as highly sensitive. However, when we view ourselves as our challenge, it doesn’t allow a lot of space to have a new, healthier relationship with it. So how can you have a new relationship with anxiety? Here are a few thoughts.
Externalize the Anxiety.
This is separating who we are from the problem. It’s important to remember that you are not the problem. The problem is the problem. I will often ask clients to name anxiety as if it was a person in their lives. This sets up space to understand the problem to create a new relationship to the problem, identify victories over the problem, and celebrate when the problem isn’t present.
Talk to your anxiety.
Now that you have identified a name for your anxiety and positioned it as separate from you, you can talk it down when it starts to get loud. Help sooth it, let it know that you see it, but that you are okay and don’t need it there right now. There may always be some level of anxiety. Not all anxiety is bad. If we didn’t have anxiety, we wouldn’t have the motivation to get things done. Anxiety can be helpful, but it can also be painful.
Can you notice when the problem is present?
When we can track what is happening in our bodies, we can also know if anxiety is present. This can allow us to redirect the sensations in our bodies to a place that feels more neutral or pleasant. This can be done with visualization and mindfulness techniques.
Celebrate victories over the problem.
Notice when something that normally brings on anxiety doesn’t have the intensity that it usually does. Or that the anxiety isn’t present at all. What helped you with this victory? Celebrate the victory. Keep taking note of your victories, so that you can go back to these examples of victories over the problem during times when anxiety is louder.
Anxiety can be so difficult to manage, that it may seem like it will always be as intense as it is in the moment. Trying to push it away, gives it power to grow. Recognize its presence and come back to the present. Mindfulness is a wonderful superhero to battle anxiety.
If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas, please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.