When we let anxiety beat us. We will beat anxiety!
It's comes as no surprise that I am a big believer in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a treatment for OCD. When I first learned ACT, I mainly applied it to thoughts. Which was great. However I wasn't dealing with the anxiety. So no matter how much I accepted the thoughts and took action towards my values, my anxiety was roaring inside me. Eventually feeling so bad, it become extremely difficult to apply ACT. So when I started to accept anxiety and I stopped fighting it, it started to go away.
Anxiety is a fight or flight response built inside us to keep us from getting harmed or killed. It is very useful. However, thank God most of us are never at risk of harm or death. But our brains are still going into overdrive with anxiety. Our brains are constantly telling us we are at risk of death. OCD and anxiety disorders are nothing more than chemical imbalances in the brain. There is no why for the anxiety other than this chemical imbalance. There may be some things you need to address, but nothing that is worthy of this fight or flight response.
Anxiety is an awful feeling. Struggling with OCD can result in many days of anxiety. Relationship OCD was highly anxiety provoking for me. Days on end where I couldn't eat properly. Had trouble sleeping. Yet it was being in this sea of anxiety that I finally stopped trying to rid myself of anxiety, and just accepted it.
When we fight anxiety or try to stop feeling it, we make it worse. When we do this we are telling our brains that this is awful, which our brain receives that message as "somethings wrong, he/she is in danger, better give them more anxiety to protect them". Weird as it sounds the only way to get anxiety to leave is by accepting it. When you do this what you are telling your brain non-verbally is that "there is nothing to worry about". Your brain will realise you are not in any danger and over time the anxiety will diminish. Your brain is only trying to keep you safe so show it that you are ok.
All good in theory but how do you put this into practice when you are anxious as fuck and see little hope of it leaving.
- Feel the emotion
- Accept the emotion
- Let anxiety "burn" you - it's just a feeling nothing more
- Don't judge or label the feeling. Merely see it as a feeling
- Repeat steps
Some phrases that you can say to yourself to accept the emotion are:
"This is just how I feel in this moment, it just is"
"I am anxious because of a chemical imbalance in the brain, that's it"
"I am anxious, and that is ok"
Give that a go. It's not a quick fix, as it can take a while for anxiety to loosen its grip. But over time you will reeducate your mind.
"When we let anxiety beat us. We will beat anxiety!"
Stop fighting anxiety, you can't beat it. But when you let it beat you, you will beat it; by showing your brain it has nothing to fear!
Let me know below how you get on.
To your success,
P.S. Here is another good video on accepting emotions: