During the conversation my friend blurts out this gem of a statement. He says, “Control is relaxation.”As he continued to talk I kept thinking, “Holy moly that was good.”
I’ve explained the same concept in way more complicated terms. What he said reminded me of Apple products; clean, simple, and effective.
So what does that statement mean? First, I flipped the statement around to suggest the preferred order of events. That is, if you relax, you will gain control.
As an anxiety sufferer you’re more likely to react strongly to anxiety by thinking about your health, your sanity, or what might happen next.
But has it ever occurred to you that you could take a deep breath and not react to those automatic thoughts that seem to take over your mind?
Yes, of course, you have. But not really, right? What actually ends up happening in those situations is that you “wish” you could do that and continue on the “what if” track. You, in fact, surrender control to anxiety by fighting with it.
Fighting anxiety is another way of saying that you try to play some kind of mind game with yourself, whereby you beg, bargain, and try to scheme your way out of the anxiety or panic by telling yourself all kinds of stuff. This tends to not work though.
The reason is simple: The more you try to control anxiety the stronger it gets. So, what happens when you do the opposite? What happens when you relax? What tends to happen is that you regain the ability to think.
See, where there is fear there is little, if any, ability to think with a clear mind. Relaxation, the cessation of the fight, is an opportunity for you to regain clarity of thought, logic, and thus endless alternatives to the nightmare you imagine might happen.
The moral of the story is that when anxious, panicked, or worried, stop fighting. Stop wrestling for control by tensing your muscles or hoping for this or that. Instead, relax your body and mind.
Get those complicated anti-anxiety schemes out of your head. Just be. After a few minutes your ability to think will come back. Then start the process of counting all the reasons why you’re not going to die or go mad.
If you want more details on how to accept anxiety fully read my e-book The Big Idea. If not, just do me a favor and relax when you think you can’t. That’s the start of the hard, but very doable, healing process.