Don’t Let Anxiety Steal Your Life. It will if you let it. 
1 Apr

Don’t Let Anxiety Steal Your Life. It will if you let it. 

Doesn’t it seem like everyone has anxiety these days? All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But when anxiety starts to interfere with our life, it helps us to know more about it and strategies to manage it, so we can reduce the symptoms.

The cost of anxiety is great. It can levy a serious toll on our health and reduce our quality of life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, national surveys estimate that nearly one in five Americans over 18, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18, had an anxiety disorder during the past year. 

On occasion, anxiety is an expected part of life and normal from time to time, but for many people anxiety interferes with their daily life. Yet, we don’t have to suffer. There are resources and support available that can reduce or eliminate suffering. No…we don’t have to remain passive victims of anxiety, and at its mercy with no control. We can gain power over it and increase our sense of control. Because anxiety can take a toll on our lives, let’s take a closer look at what we mean by anxiety, what causes it, and how we can overcome it.

Anxiety is the body’s reaction to thoughts and beliefs we have about stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It’s a sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread. People with anxiety usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. Depending on the person, symptoms may vary, but all types of anxiety involve fear.

We may fear a negative outcome and avoid certain situations out of worry and feelings of fear. During these stressful times, we may also experience a heightened sense of worry, panic attacks, self-consciousness, fright, fight or flight, negative self-talk, and more. Although everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, it’s important to remember that…anxiety isn’t a weakness nor a flaw. It’s not our fault either. We don’t cause it to happen, so there’s nothing wrong with us and we’re not making it up. It is happening to us.

It’s normal to feel anxious at times, such as when we’re faced with a difficult problem at work, also when we’re concerned before taking a test, or feel hesitation before making an important decision. A common complaint among people living with anxiety is that they can’t get the racing thoughts of anxiety out of their head. Anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress about the future, but it can also negatively impact our wellbeing. Notice, anxiety comes from the lies the ego tells us. It tells us lies to maintain control and survive on our energy.

The ego uses the mind to create problems, fear, worry, and anxiety over a life situation and we’re in the habit of going along. This is what we’ve learned to do…we follow the thoughts by giving them our attention, and they grow, creating our symptoms and suffering. Notice, all situations are neutral until the mind gets involved. Our thoughts about the situation make it a problem. To clarify, there is no problem with a situation until we believe our thoughts about the situation to make it a problem. Remember, it’s the ego that’s fearful, not us.

Have you ever listened to the narration of thoughts in the mind? At times, they’re negative and can be a scary experience. We may even dread the future–thinking it will be filled with horrible feelings and outcomes. When we believe our thoughts and think we can’t handle what the mind is saying about the future, it can be frightening. These disturbing thoughts that come through our mind make our anxiety worse.

Anxious thoughts often involve statements such as: I can’t. If-then. What if? I’ll never. They always or they never. Yes, but. They think. Shoulds or shouldn’ts. This will never end; I have to live with these thoughts forever; Things will never be ok.

Sometime anxiety seems hopeless, as if we must live with these dreaded and intrusive thoughts forever. But that’s just not so. For anxiety to last, we have to believe the scary thoughts and be afraid of them too. In other words, thoughts only work when we believe them. This makes sense because when we’re told something over and over again, we start to believe it.

When the ego tells us lies, it’s no different. Our anxiety is strengthened, thus the ego feeds on our fears. Notice, when our body believes our thoughts…that there is an imminent threat, it reacts as if there’s an immediate threat or danger. It knows no difference between thoughts and an immediate threat. If we repeat these thoughts, our body suffers needlessly. Stress hormones are released to give us the energy we need to protect ourselves from danger. This experience raises our blood pressure and overtime can contribute to other medical issues and dysfunctions.

The good news is… anxiety isn’t us; it’s happening to us. As we know from experience, thoughts and anxiety are always changing. They come and go, so thoughts can’t be us. Notice the meaning that we give to our anxious thoughts and feelings matter…because that’s what defines them. When we were growing up, we learned to listen to our thoughts and go along with them. Now that we know it’s not us and the ego is making up the thoughts we’re experiencing, we can observe them and not engage. We can learn to dis-identify from them and take back our authority. This is what it takes to be free.

According to Eckhart Tolle, “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap. And if you are identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power and simplicity of the Now, that anxiety gap will be your constant companion. You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.”

Anxiety and the ego can run and ruin our life if we let it. It’s a thief…It will steal our life and make it its own. We’re the only ones who can end it for good. We can learn to not be afraid of the ego or anxiety. So, don’t run from the ego. Face it…confront it…and learn to let go of it. Remember, because it’s happening to us, we can distance ourselves to overcome it. We can recognize it for what it is and take back our power. When we are afraid of anxiety, we give it power. Once we know it’s the ego’s voice of fear and doubt, we can stop believing the scary thoughts and stop being afraid of them…our anxiety decreases.

When we know the truth and learn to not fall for the ego’s tricks anymore, the fear and anxiety will dissolve. It may take support and practice to apply the truth about our thoughts, but it works. In fact, this inner growth can actually spur us on, help us stay alert, make us aware of risks and motivate us to solve any problem our ego mind creates. However, if anxiety starts to occur more often or becomes worse, it’s important to seek support.

Remember, personal authority over our life naturally belongs to us. If we’re living without our inner authority, we’ve given it away…without knowing it, so we must take it back. Once we take ownership and responsibility for our lives, we can reclaim our rightful authority. Let’s be clear…this authority belongs to us, not to the ego nor the anxiety it creates. Yes, we can and should be in charge of our life.

The truth is…there’s nothing real out there that’s a threat–not really, anyway. It’s just the ego tricking us. According to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. It’s merely the “idea of fear” in the mind.

Isn’t it time we did something different?

What one thing will you commit to today…to make your life more peaceful and freeing? Choose one of the following ways to help reduce anxiety in your life now.    

Managing anxiety – Consider applying the following ways to help manage the symptoms of anxiety: use relaxation techniques, breath & body work, healthy diet, regular exercise, medical checkups, meditation, yoga, therapy, medication, rest, join support groups (online or in person), eliminate unhealthy habits, and learn more about anxiety & mindfulness practices.

Getting active – Exercising and getting out into nature are two great ways to reduce anxiety. Consider the following exercises: hiking, fitness workouts, take long walks, swimming, dancing. Look around your environment and use your 5 senses to identity: 3 things you see, hear, smell, can touch and taste. This practice will help you experience more presence in your life. 

Be patient with yourself as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. For more insight, consider reading Chapter 8 “Understanding Thought” as well as in Chapter 9 “The Busy Mind” in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Please share it with someone else. It may be exactly what they need to hear to be free too. Come back for next month’s blog and…

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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.

Checkout Trina’s book on most online retail sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or BookBaby Bookshop: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself.”