Self

How To Use Your Anxiety To Grow Into The Person You're Meant To Be

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Confident young woman looks straight at camera

The thoughts we carry in our minds can produce unwanted anxiety. The intense stories we hear or read, the images of doom we observe, the disturbing memories that haunt us, and personal thriller movies in our minds can lead to sweaty palms, painful aching in our shoulders and other symptoms elsewhere. 

These symptoms can be scary — piling additional anxious feelings upon already-existing anxiety. But you don't need to be afraid.

The more you understand anxiety and its causes and the more familiar you become with your own symptoms, the more likely you will be to channel your anxiety toward a positive experience. There is a fine line between healthy anxiety and bad anxiety, and they each have their reasons and uses.

When we are able to utilize anxiety without fearing the sensations experienced, it can allow for creativity to grow and for goals to be achieved. In fact, anxiety can become a catalyst to help you become the person you want to be.

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Cultivate Empathy and Compassion for Yourself

The majority of people who experience symptoms of anxiety become fearful of the experience and the related body sensations, causing them to become overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry. In turn, this can lead to forgetting about the coping skills and the power you have over your body.

Focus on becoming more compassionate, attentive and empathetic toward yourself. Your severe anxiety did not start out of thin air.

Chances are, a disturbing or traumatic experience where your body didn’t have the opportunity to exert an organic response to the situation is what led to these symptoms of anxiety.

Try to recognize the reason for your anxiety symptoms. When you are experiencing mental override about doomsday while sitting at home watching your favorite show, or doing work in your office, preparing for that important presentation or an upcoming social event, remember the power of your lungs.

Breathe slowly and your brain will have to follow. Step away from punishing yourself or trying to force yourself to feel something different. Allow your mind and body to process your anxiety.

The following can assist you with better managing these symptoms and achieving the clarity you need to function.

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Follow these 5 steps with intention

  • Welcome the energy your body is creating and challenge the fear by naming it.
  • Verbalize the story you’re telling yourself out loud: that will allow you to notice the story you have created. And you will get to decide if you will write the full script for it, or trash it.  
  • Ask your body, What do you need? How can I provide that to you? And what will happen after I give that to you? (From the book Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione.) 
  • Give yourself time to listen to what your body is communicating to you. This can allow your symptoms to decrease and fears to decline. Utilize that energy and curiosity to achieve whatever your goals are. Remember your initial goal is to acknowledge the symptoms.
  • Explore your body sensations and try not to get overly consumed with trying to figure out what is causing this.

Now you know how to respond to what your body needs and you can choose to honor it. And when you do, this is how we practice being vulnerable, authentic, and trusting in our ability to take care of ourselves. This nurtures your confidence in achieving your goal. 

RELATED: 5 Ways The Most Successful People Turn Anxiety Into Productivity

This is definitely easier said than done, but as you practice using these skills, you will notice the relief and clarity you can experience. Remember the amount of time, thought and practice you have put into these symptoms by trying to keep them at bay, trying to numb them and trying to ignore them.

It will probably take less time, but similar energy to practice applying these new coping skills.  

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Side effects of applying coping skills

As you are practicing applying these skills, you will also need to challenge the shame, anger and judgment you may experience. 

You may experience anger at yourself for reacting to situations from a space of anxiety. You may experience shame because you believe that you are a bad person, because what happened to you that caused these symptoms was your fault and you are deserving of this punishment.

You may judge and compare yourself to others you imagine do not experience anxiety, and if they did, they would handle it better. 

When you notice you are doing this to yourself, say it out loud and ask yourself, Would I speak to a loved one or a child the way I am speaking and treating myself right now? The vulnerability you’ll experience while doing these exercises will allow you to learn to trust yourself, feel clearer about your decisions and have a better understanding of your true needs.

RELATED: 9 Ways Successful People Turn Their Anxiety Into Something Powerful

4 steps to seek support

1. If you have insurance find an EMDR therapist who can assist you in reprocessing the memory that resulted in the body and cognitive experience that’s creating these severe symptoms of anxiety.

2. If you experience mild-to-moderate anxiety about life situations find a CBT therapist.

3. If you do not have insurance, you can find yoga, guided meditation, and awareness videos on YouTube or at your local library where they may offer free classes. 

4. Tap into your support network of people who are non-judgmental, who you trust to share that you have anxiety and that are able to witness and assist you with applying coping skills to better manage the symptoms. 

Bonus step: Do not indulge in food, drugs or alcohol for support — it will likely have the opposite effect

RELATED: 6 Ways My Anxiety Has Actually Made Me A More Successful Person

Let’s begin this experiential challenge by choosing you, and acknowledging your skills and abilities.

Use your voice and give yourself a chance to experience joy and success while being authentically you in an un-censored, vulnerable space.

These tools will lead you to experience relief, and allow you to use your anxiety, to grow into the person you are meant to be. The secret is this: The skills mentioned can be used in all aspects of life, and your superpower of allowing yourself to welcome support, and re-introduce curiosity into your life, will allow you to make clearer decisions that support your values, authenticity and goals.

RELATED: How To Put Anxiety In Its Place, Once And For All

Nancy Andino is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 22 years in the healing field. Her focus is on healing individuals by providing exploratory, tailored, and community healing experiences authentically. 

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