How to Reduce Your Anxiety

What peace can we hope to find elsewhere…if we have none within us?– Saint Teresa of Avila

I love this quote on the website “Transcendental Meditation for Women” and have found that meditation is a great way to reduce anxiety.

Meditation helps calm our fight or flight system. This system, which functions within us to protect us, often gets stuck in active-gear. If we came across a bear one day, we would feel fear, anxiety, and worry. This is an appropriate reaction–moving us into action to protect us and keep us alive. The fear and anxiety would then leave us, and we could move back into an ideal state.

But what about perceived fears? What happens when we feel threatened because of deep-seeded beliefs? If we have anxiety because deep down inside we are afraid the ones closest to us will abandon us, will those threats ever leave? Can we ever truly calm our anxiety?

What if deep to the core you believed you did not matter all . . . that you truly had no worth. And if others knew that, they would stop loving you. Would you feel a constant stream of anxiety?

If you are the breadwinner in the home, do you maintain that small thread of fear that it’s completely on your shoulders? Do you ever worry you won’t make enough? That your family will suffer because of you? That you just aren’t good enough to provide enough for them?

PROBLEM: We have deep fears and anxieties.

Some may not recognize the hidden anxieties that exist within them. Perhaps they worry about things, but they don’t have anxiety about them. But did you know that almost all emotions can be categorized into three main emotions? So when I talk about “anxiety,” I am also talking about worries, stresses, fears, etc.

Whatever they are called, whether they are obvious to us or not, and whatever intensity they exist within us as, they are REAL! And they definitely don’t feel good.

How can this kind of anxiety be calmed?

In my past years of experience, I have found one technique that truly helps me shift my anxiety from a state of fear to a state of peace.

I’ve learned from recent years full of life’s lessons that we often feel fears and anxieties, worries and stresses when an underling belief system within us is untrue. Like the time I started feeling anxiety over winning an award (for my first grader’s cross country assembly) that I wasn’t even capable of winning!

My anxiety showed up, alerting me that I had an unhealthy belief surfacing. And because our uncomfortable emotions give us messages of something we need to do, I worked through that anxiety, discovered I deeply and subconsciously believed that I needed other’s approval to validate my own worth, and was able to release that unhealthy belief by taking action on the message I received from my fear.

The anxiety left as quickly as it came.

I have found many forms of meditation greatly decrease the amount of stress and anxiety in our lives. But, unless we actually FACE OUR FEARS and discover the underlying faulty belief within us, those fears will not leave.

Would you like to heal from an anxiety or worry?

Would you like to uncover a faulty belief that’s residing within you?

By walking through the following steps, you will discover one (or more) of the faulty, limiting beliefs you are subconsciously living by. You will also find out what your fear’s message is for you. By taking action on that message, you are choosing to free yourself from the unhealthy belief.

So let’s get started.

First, take some quiet, deep, soft breaths.

Gently roll your head in a circle from shoulder to shoulder. Unwind any tension your body is holding. Lift your arms into a circular motion, then let them rest at your side.

Take a few more deep breaths and relax into the space around you.

Let your mind scan your recent emotions. What have you worried about? What causes some anxiety in you as you think on it? What do you fear will happen?

Let your thoughts go. Sit and wait. Listen. Images might come. Words might come. Thoughts might come. People. Situations. Anything. Don’t hold any expectations. Expectations will block the answers. Let your heart speak with your mind.

If something comes to mind, such as “I worry what people will say about me if my kids misbehave in public,” go deeper. Ask again, “So what do I fear about that?”

Perhaps you will get something like, “People might think I’m a bad mom.” Or “People will think I’m a hypocrite.” Or “It will give people fuel to say mean things about me.”

Keep digging.

It all my sound illogical and not make sense, but it will feel true and real. (That’s how those sneaky limiting beliefs are! They feel true, but getting them out helps you see they are illogical and untrue.) Ask yourself, “And what happens if that is the case?”

You might feel something like, “If they think I’m a bad mom, then that means I’m failing as a mom.” Or “If they think I’m a hypocrite, then maybe it’s true. Maybe I really am a hollow hypocrite who has no backbone to live as I proclaim.” Or “If people say mean things about me, then maybe those mean things are true, and I’m just not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.”

Go further. Ask yourself what happens next. “What happens if I am failing as a mom?” Or “What happens if I’ll never be good enough?”

Go as deep as you can until you can’t go any further.

You might get to something like, “If I’ll never be good enough, then I’ll never amount to anything. I’m a failure. A complete nobody with no potential to be anything more. Which means I have no worth or value.”

Once you can’t dig any further, you have arrived at your limiting belief. Picking apart the above statement, I can see that the unhealthy belief is this: “I have to be successful in order to have worth.”

Well, let me ask you, dear reader. Is that a true statement? Do I have to be successful in order to have worth? Do I have to have thousands of followers to my blog to gain worth? Do I have to have brilliant, well-behaved children? Do I have to have an excess of money, a large home, and fill-in-the-blank, to have worth?

No. I don’t.

I have worth just because I am living.

And so do you.

This is great progress, don’t you think?!?

Leave a comment below of your limiting belief. Once you write it down and look at it, you will see how untrue it is.

So now that we have discovered our limiting belief, and hopefully thought through the illogical-ness of it, (is that a word???), let’s find out what our fear is telling us to do.

Anxiety and fear bring the message to us that a choice needs to be made. In order to find out what the options are, we need to ask!

So return to your quiet space, take a few deep breaths visualizing the air sweeping in through your breathing system and then going straight to your heart.

Now ask your amazing heart that keeps you living every moment of the day: “What are my choices?”

Often times, my choices are simple. Either remain in my fear, living that unhealthy belief, or take the new path, exercising faith in something greater than myself. For example, I can continue worrying that I will never be good enough to prove to myself that I have worth, or I can choose to exert all my energy and focus and belief into the idea that I have worth just because I exist.

All through my teenage years, I would hear the phrase again and again, “You have worth,” and I believed it in my head, but I never felt it in my heart. I never really lived with the certainty of it. Until I actually learned to “face my fear” and ask it what its message was, I couldn’t actually release my limiting belief and truly have faith in the better way.

So where have your questions led you? Have you discovered your limiting belief? Do you have your choices? Can you see your options? Which will you choose?

The last step in working through your emotions is to take action! Don’t come this far and not do what you need to do. Take action! Make that choice. Visualize yourself stepping onto that new path. That one that will free you from the chains of limiting beliefs. The one that will lead you into light and peace.

Two paths diverged. One into darkness. One into light.

SOLUTION: Discover the message in your fear—what your choices are and what choice you need to make—and then take that action.

If you’ve made it through, that deep-seeded fear should be unraveling and leaving you, taking that sneaky, unhealthy belief with it. If this is not the case, there might be a few things to take note of. Check out the post about carrying emotions, what they are, and what to do about them. And consider looking into releasing some trapped emotions too.

But if you worked through it all and you are starting to feel that load lifted, great job! You just did emotion work and worked through your fear! Don’t forget to thank your fear for blessing your life and allowing you to make this progress.

Leave a comment about your journey. Share this with someone who needs to be guided to a better path as well. Lift a friend by helping them work through their worries and fears. And next time another one arises, do the process again, recognize the message, act on it, and welcome the peace that comes.

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