The seed of our anxiety is the fact that our core values and the way we live are simply not aligned.
Artist- Kathrin Honesta @kathrinhonestaa
Anxiety occurs when our thoughts dwell in the false belief that we can see into the future. That sinking, nauseating feeling that comes when we have a big presentation or an important conversation with our partner is not because of the act itself, but in the fear that these events will fall short of our expectations. The fear (conscious or unconscious) makes us believe that if we fail we are just not good enough. This anxiety can show up in a myriad of life events and can vary in intensity and frequency. Obliterating anxiety should never be the goal. The point is to become aware and have a healthier relationship with the experience of anxiety and allow it to help us spring into action.
We have all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives- It is probably something we have learned to expertly integrate into our lives, and even found “life hacks” to help us get through it. Maybe it is an extra glass of wine after a long day, turning to our favorite comforting snacks, or binge watching our favorite Netflix shows. Anxiety has woven itself into our society, and when we try to make positive shifts in our lives anxiety can become the pink elephant in the room. Anxiety often propels us to make changes from a fear-based place, we choose to flee without truly taking the time to understand why we need a change. For example, if we decide that we need to change jobs because our cost of living continues to climb and we are short of cash. This can lead to a search for a similar job that simply pays more. Perhaps, we land this job- we get some extra dollars but sure enough, as time goes by we either find ourselves in the same spot- or simply bored and dissatisfied in our lives again.
I do not mean to make light of the importance of feeling financially stable enough to pay for the ever-increasing cost of living- Instead, I wish to highlight that if we decide to make changes in our lives from an restless place, without digging deeper then we perpetuate this vicious cycle. We have been conditioned to think more is better. But perhaps the seed of our anxiety is the fact that our core values and the way we live are simply not aligned. Getting this insight can be the scariest part of making changes- and is often the reason we make lateral alterations that perpetuate old patterns. We can have a relationship break up, then temporarily feel free for a bit, only to find ourselves dating the same type of individual a year or two down the line.
So, how can we begin to know ourselves a little deeper in order to transform our lives? Some can find therapy helpful, bibliotherapy can also be a great tool, and mediation is not only the most accessible, but can have a high level of efficacy in lowering anxiety. Meditation not only calms the parasympathetic system (automatic responses like breathing and heart rate), but also helps balance serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; as well as GABA levels in our brains. As these neurotransmitters reach a balance - our minds begin to find clarity and quiet. The brain increases connections between the Amygdala (fight or flight response) and our prefrontal cortex which is responsible for rational thinking. This not only directly lowers levels of anxiety, but it allows us to become more aware and separate from our impulsiveness. As we tolerate discomfort better, we transform the way we go about our lives. We become more aligned with our values, which positively impact our intentions for change. This shift from fear based intentions to a more heart centered approach to change can dramatically shift the way in which we live.
Nicole Y. Herrarte