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Embracing Anxiety: The Key To Moving Past It.

understanding anxiety

Anxiety, with its fluttering heartbeat and racing thoughts, often gets a bad rap. It's the unwelcome guest that shows up uninvited, disrupting our peace of mind and leaving us feeling overwhelmed. In a world that often tells us to push away discomfort, anxiety can feel like an enemy to be defeated. But what if, instead of resisting it, we embraced and acknowledged it? What if we saw anxiety not as a weakness, but as a signal from within, guiding us towards growth and self-discovery?

The Nature of Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural human emotion, a response wired into us from our ancient ancestors who needed it to survive. It's the body's way of alerting us to potential threats, a built-in alarm system that says, "Pay attention, something important is happening."

anxiety and panic

However, in our modern lives, this ancient alarm system can sometimes misfire. Everyday stressors trigger our fight-or-flight response, even when the threat is not life-threatening. This is where anxiety can become overwhelming, hijacking our thoughts and feelings. Our bodies and brains are incredibly complex, finely tuned systems that have evolved over millennia to keep us safe from harm.


Pause- first we need to understand what is happening when we feel anxious before we are able to accept it.

Understanding why our body interprets and reacts to anxiety the way it does is so important in learning how to accept and manage it. When it comes to anxiety triggers, this intricate system remembers experiences and situations that have caused us distress in the past. Here's a brief look at how this happens:

Remembering Anxiety Triggers

  • Neural Pathways: When we experience anxiety, our brain creates neural pathways associated with the event or trigger. These pathways serve as a sort of memory track, linking the trigger to our emotional and physical response.

  • Amygdala: The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain, plays a central role in processing emotions, including fear and anxiety. It's like the brain's alarm system, activating our fight-or-flight response when it perceives a threat.

  • Emotional Memory: Our brains are wired to remember emotionally charged events more vividly. This is why even a seemingly minor trigger can evoke a strong emotional and physiological response.

Real vs. Fake Fear

Interestingly, our bodies often can't distinguish between real and perceived threats. Here's why:

  • Evolutionary Legacy: Throughout human history, quick reactions to potential threats meant survival. Our ancestors needed to react swiftly to the rustle in the bushes, whether it was a predator or just the wind.

  • Physiological Response: When we feel anxious, our bodies undergo a cascade of physiological changes: increased heart rate, shallow breathing, tense muscles, and heightened senses. This response is automatic and happens whether the threat is physical or imagined.

  • Conditioned Response: Over time, our brains become conditioned to certain triggers. Even if the threat isn't real, the brain reacts as though it is, because it associates the trigger with past anxiety-inducing experiences.

So, whether it's a genuine danger or a perceived one, our bodies and brains respond to anxiety triggers in similar ways.

By recognizing these responses and working with them, we can gradually rewire our brains to respond differently to triggers, fostering a sense of calm and control.


The Power of Acceptance

In a society that doesn't fully understand mental health and often sees struggles as a sign of weakness, admitting to anxiety can feel like an admission of failure. We put on masks of calmness, pretending everything is fine while battling this internal monster. This suppression, this denial of our true life experiences, only serves to deepen the anxiety. It's like trying to hold down a beach ball in a pool – it takes immense effort and sooner or later, it will pop up with even greater force.

So how do we break free from this cycle? The key lies in acceptance. Accepting anxiety does not mean giving up or resigning ourselves to a life of worry. It means acknowledging its presence without judgment. It's about saying, "Yes, I feel anxious, and that's okay."

When we accept our anxiety, we stop fighting against it. We create space to observe it, to understand its patterns and triggers. This self-awareness is crucial; it allows us to respond to anxiety with compassion rather than fear. We can then ask ourselves, "What is this anxiety trying to tell me? What do I need right now?"

A Path to Self-Compassion

Acceptance opens the door to self-compassion, a gentle and nurturing way of relating to ourselves. Instead of berating ourselves for feeling anxious, we offer kindness. We recognize that anxiety is a part of the human experience, something shared by millions around the world.

Self-compassion teaches us that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to have moments of weakness, moments where we falter and stumble. These are not signs of failure; they are opportunities for growth. Through self-compassion, we learn to soothe ourselves in times of distress, like a caring friend offering a listening ear.


Building Resilience

As we walk the path of acceptance and self-compassion, something remarkable happens – we build resilience. Resilience is not about never feeling anxious or never facing difficulties. It's about our ability to bounce back, to rise stronger after each fall. By accepting anxiety, we learn valuable coping mechanisms. We discover the power of mindfulness, of being present in the moment without judgment. We learn to breathe through the waves of panic, knowing they will eventually subside. We cultivate gratitude for the small joys amidst the chaos, finding pockets of peace even in turbulent times.


When we accept and acknowledge our anxiety, we transform our relationship with this often misunderstood emotion. We move from a place of fear to a place of empowerment. So, if you find yourself tangled in the web of anxiety, remember this: you are not alone, and you are stronger than you know. Embrace your anxiety as a messenger, guiding you towards deeper understanding and inner strength. In the dance with anxiety, may you find not only resilience but also profound self-discovery and compassion.


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