It’s a recurring cycle. Anxiety offers an invitation; it signals something’s up or not right.
Suddenly, your mind floods with worried thoughts; you feel panic and fear.
Your body jolts into reactive, fight or flight mode; you run, hide, withdraw, yell, scream, cry, numb, and turn yourself inside out.
Frightened and afraid of our anxiety, we desperately look to others, experts, quick fixes, “how to” solutions, treatments, and therapies, even medications to get rid of anxiety.
Of course, sometimes we do need the help with anxiety, especially if it’s interfering with our ability to function; I absolutely get that.
But all too often, unable to fathom any real value or purpose, we scramble to eliminate, more like annihilate, anxiety, instead of coming to know and understand it.
A Little About Anxiety
Anxiety, as with all our emotions, offers a portal into our mind, our body, and our life.
In its primitive form, anxiety signals possible threats or danger; it helped us survive as a species.
However, without launching into the remarkable realm of neuroscience, as an emotion, anxiety was never intended to be a frequent flyer feeling.
In other words, we’re not supposed to feel anxiety all the time!
Originating in the amygdala part of the brain, anxiety triggers a specific, and fascinating, sequence of biological and chemical reactions in the body.
This super amazing sequence is commonly known as the stress response.
Whereas the stress response is priceless for keeping us safe, protected, and out of danger, too much stress responses can be harmful to our body and our health.
For example, epinephrine is one of the chemicals produced during the stress responses; it’s the “get out of there” hormone that creates the adrenaline we need to react, move quickly, and take rapid, immediate action.
This is a good thing!
But too much epinephrine on a consistent basis, over time, is not a good thing, and can actually harm us; in other words, in large doses, epinephrine is toxic.
So how we evolve our relationship with anxiety is essential to our quality of life, well being, and health.
If we can settle down enough to come closer to knowing our anxiety, we can discover that anxiety holds a priceless invitation.
By listening to anxiety’s whispers, okay maybe for you it’s panicked chatter, anxiety can alert us to what’s going on inside and outside of us.
For example, anxiety can send up a flare that something’s on the horizon.
Perhaps anxiety’s signaling that we need to get out of an abusive relationship, create some new, actually supportive, inspiring friendships, or start dating again.
Anxiety can also send up an SOS that we need to cut back on drinking, lose some weight, get into shape, and stop overeating.
The vibration of anxiety could also be warning us that now is the time to get out debt, leave that highly stressful job, or spend more time with the kids, while we still can.
But accepting anxiety’s invitation is scary, or it is for many, perhaps most of us; it’s simply too uncomfortable and unbearable.
Our immediate reaction to anxiety is to get as far away from it as possible; like why would you want to feel any more anxious?
But what we often forget is that we have within us another useful emotion, called courage, that will support us on any emotional journey we choose to go on if we simply call on it.
Accepting Anxiety’s Invitation
I spent most of my life trying to escape anxiety; I turned to food, drugs, and alcohol, which were definitely escape routes, but they were also harmful to my health.
Medication helped for a while…until I discovered that I wasn’t feeling anything; plus, the side effects were as uncomfortable as the anxiety.
And whereas alternative therapies and practices such as acupuncture and massage were relaxing and calming for a while, relief only lasted for a brief time until I was back in stress response mode once again.
After years of resisting, reacting, and avoiding, I finally succumb to anxiety’s invitation and accepted, although tentatively.
I was totally freaked out about where we’d go together, but at this point, I had nothing more to loose.
Alone with anxiety and scared out of my whits, I called on courage, and together, we met anxiety.
Through meditation, yoga, and journaling, I grew closer to anxiety than I ever thought possible.
What I discovered was remarkable, fascinating, and totally life-changing.
I came to know my mind and my emotions deeply; I came to know me.
Courage brought me to my yoga mat, meditation seat, and journal every day.
In between the inhales and the exhales, poses, and stories, I discovered what anxiety was trying to tell me all those years.
I discovered that anxiety wasn’t trying to hurt me or screw up my life; anxiety was merely trying to jolt me into paying closer attention to me, my relationships, my work, and my life.
Anxiety was simply alerting me to the possibilities before me that I wasn’t paying conscious attention to.
Once I stopped being afraid of anxiety and started listening and trusting, everything in my life started to change; I started showing up and leading instead of avoiding and escaping.
Anxiety’s Invitation To You
I can’t say that your invitation from anxiety will look or feel like mine, or that your outcomes will be the same; we’re all different, come from an array of colorful circumstances, and feel and experience our lives differently.
What I can tell you is that anxiety can’t and will not harm you; it’s not the enemy intruder.
Sure, anxiety is uncomfortable, and yet discomfort will also not hurt or harm you; discomfort is part of life and living as a human.
If the discomfort of your anxiety is simply too hard to imagine or bear, get yourself some expert help; you deserve it.
If you believe that with courage you can meet your anxiety face-to-face, do it; give yourself the gift of living freely with anxiety’s alerts and signals.
Allow anxiety’s energy to awaken you to possibilities that lie ahead that you might want to consider consciously, and that could be life-changing.
Anxiety offers an invitation to know you and your life deeper than ever before.
Will you accept?