The 1 Question That Helps Me Coexist With My Anxiety
September 25, 2018
When was the last time you paused, took a deep breath, and noticed what’s actually going through your head? No shade. Just wondering.
Maybe you read those last few sentences and paused to breathe deeply.
Maybe your jaw and shoulders relaxed.
Maybe you realized that your mind has been racing all day, and this article helped you notice that, even if just a little.
If so, welcome. I invite you to join me on a quick journey to being able to do this more often.
I live with anxiety, and anxiety lives with me, but we don’t often get along. I’m the kind of person who gets in the trap of thinking all my thoughts are useful, helpful, and telling me something important. My anxiety is kinda like that bossy inconsiderate roommate who leaves their stuff everywhere, wakes up the entire apartment when they return home late at night, and has their music up when up when I’m trying to read a book or just chill. What I’ve learned: Our thoughts can get the better of us if we don’t set the tone.
Something That Might Help
In my better moments, I’m the boss. I call the shots. And I vet my thoughts. I ask myself, “Is this thought coming from a place of love or fear?” If it’s love, I dig into it. If it’s fear, I ask myself, “Is this helpful?” Like is it actually helpful?
This question is so powerful because some of my thoughts hold me back, do more harm than good, and just get all up in the way. When I take the time to examine the stories I tell myself (hat tip: Brené Brown), I get clear on the underlying feelings and emotions behind a thought.
For example: I might have racing thoughts and feel stressed about being late to a meeting. The unhelpful thought is: “Sinclair, you’re late for everything and no one’s gonna take you seriously!” Ummm, not true, and I get to make mistakes, check my breathing, and move on.
My body immediately feels way more relaxed when I recognize the thought doesn't serve me. But if you can't see those benefits immediately, know that's OK.
Managing our mind and getting clear on the thoughts that serve us and those that don’t—it’s something we all get to work at, at our own pace. It’s not about having a stress-free day or a stress-free life, it’s about celebrating the moments when we examine our “monkey brain,” as my yoga teacher calls it, without judgement. We value the helpfulness of a thought, and we make a decision on what to do with it.
My Hope For You
You might have a lot on your plate right now. Your brain might be telling you that you need to be all things for all people. It might be telling you that every single thought is urgent, important, an emergency. Perhaps you felt like shouting, “OMG, I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW!” when you got that recent email ping.
And, also, you get to breathe.
And remind yourself that you’re the boss of your mind.
You get to decide which thoughts are helpful and the ones you need to say, “Bye, Girl!” ASAP.
If you need some help with this, I got you, friend. I recently recorded a seven-day audio challenge for the Shine iOS app. It's called 7 Days to Calming Anxiety, and in the challenge I breakdown and unpack this life-changing process of coexisting with your anxiety.
I’m sending you positive vibes for your wellbeing, wherever you are right now, and whoever you’re becoming. And here's to more helpful thoughts.
Read next: You Are Enough—Social Anxiety and All
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