The 2 Step Guide to Being Anxiety Free

Live without fear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may seem inconceivable for you to live without anxiety right now but you can.

Perhaps you’ve spent time alone pondering what will become of you because of the troubles you’re facing. To be honest, that’s to be expected given your predicament.

Still, you can get better.

Here’s a good question: How did I overcome anxiety and when did I know it?

In the beginning I was Lost

“Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

First, let me tell you how I didn’t do it. As many of you know I spent about 10 years immersed in a special kind of hell.

Before moving toward a solution for my anxiety problem I had experienced panic, hypochondria, social anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and many physical symptoms… geez the symptoms.

Things were tough.

During those hard times I did everything wrong. I searched Google incessantly for random information, went into forums to complain, and that’s about it.

In that regard, I was either trying to reinforce my suspicions about what was wrong with me, or worse yet, discovering brand new things to worry about.

I was also going to my doctor about once every other month for his reassurance. I was calling my mom, yes my mom, for advice, help, anything.

I was driving my poor wife up the wall, I wasn’t exercising, relaxing, people at work were telling me to perk up, daily. That got old, fast.

In the middle I was Focused

“Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez

So, here’s how I did it. I overcame abnormal anxiety with facts.

It wasn’t facts alone though. I had seen plenty of those and I hadn’t done a thing with any of them. Nonetheless, I got smart and started to focus on the right facts. A select type of knowledge developed by renowned cognitive behaviorist like Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and Victor Raimy.

That stuff helped a lot. But I needed more than that.

I also needed belief. Belief in the facts, belief in myself. I developed a conviction.

I needed the facts to fill the holes in my knowledge and develop enough of an understanding of anxiety disorders so I could create reasonable alternatives to my ridiculous thoughts. And, of course, counter the physical symptoms that kept me afraid. I needed the facts.

But it was my conviction… my faith, perhaps even naive hope, that kept me fixated on being free from fear.

So often we cram facts into our heads and stop listening to our hearts. We think that by only having the factual knowledge, the intellectual insight, that we can progress. This is, however, wrong. It takes more.

There’s also an emotional insight that we often ignore as we hunt for the next big cure instead.

We tune out what we feel perhaps because we’re afraid to feel anymore.  Imagine, afraid to feel… we just want it all to stop, but in so doing an opportunity is missed – again and again – to feel our way out.

What I mean is that if you let yourself feel the pain, the fear, any and all of your emotions, you will find what you really need. A catalyst.

Something to agitate you from within that will drive you toward finding what you need to stop the cycle you’re in.

More often than not we get caught up in things we don’t use, tricks that don’t work, and information we forget.

What plan have you made, what things have you done over a long period of time, what new things have you explored past a one minute scan of a random webpage?

What, outside of wishing, have you ever tried with passion, with your heart leading the way; eyes shut to the fear of failure?

I once sat in my car sobbing uncontrollably, despondent. It was a terrible feeling, but at the same time it was that feeling that drove me to action.

I let myself feel all the things that I had been holding inside. In that hurt, that utter misery, I found what would later guide my persistent efforts to be free from fear.

In the end I was Free

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.”

- Karl Augustus Menninger

When did I know that I had overcome anxiety?

When my wife saw me working on Anxietyguru.net one day she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Honey, you’re so different now, you’re not even the same person. It’s amazing.”

I hadn’t stopped to think about it before then. It was an “aha moment.”

I realized that I had reached a point in my life that I thought I would never see. Something I had assumed was impossible. Yet, I did it, and so can you.

Get the facts, then let the memory of your former self, your anguish, sadness, and hope lead the way. Stay focused.

 

P.S.

I’d like to thank Bryan, Kasey and Susan for asking this question.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. William says

    What’s interesting is that I see myself in this time-line-of-sorts. My dad would keep telling me I look “lost,” and it’s only recently (several months later) that I’ve started taking control of things and being proactive about my issues.

    After a while my dad told me I no longer had that look of “being lost.” Made me feel better knowing I at least appear normal. Aha. I’m still struggling but it has only been getting better.

  2. Irena says

    Paul, great article! It was interesting to read how you overcame your anxiety disorder and what you did to achieve your goal. That made me think that there’s more than just 1 approach to address the problem. I myself suffered from generalized anxiety + panic disorder for about 2 years. I read many personal stories of people in the same predicament, and still considered my own anxiety to be pretty severe. Well, now it’s been a year that I’m 100% anxiety free. I never thought this moment would come. But, here it is, and I’m back to normal, I mean– completely. How did I do it? After having educated myself enough about the workings of anxiety disorder, I just MOVED AWAY from the topic entirely. I stopped reading up about the anxiety, stopped visiting online anxiety forums and web-sites (yours included, no offense though), I just started living my life. And the miracle happened–my anxiety fell away as if it wasn’t there in the first place. I guess if one occupies his consious mind with positive productive things, eventually the unconsious mind will understand that it’s a complete waste of time to think about the anxiety altogether, and at this point, well, you are pretty much recovered.
    Comparing your recovery experience to mine, I see that there’s more than just 1 way of getting there. The goal is to lose the fear (that’s what’s keeping you ill), and it’s up to the individual to find his/her own way.

    Too bad though that one doesn’t see too many recovery stories on here. I’m posting mine to encourage those who are still suffering that recovery is achievable to anybody.

    Thanks for this web site, it was very helpful in my dark days when I felt like I had nowhere to turn.

  3. Kasey Boening says

    Thanks Paul! I see myself in everyone of your phases…think I might just be getting to the end :) Thank you again for your amazing work. P.S. I did find your site through the same googling process you spoke of, but funny thing is once I found your site I’ve stopped googling.

  4. Bryan3000 says

    Paul, excellent as always! It’s so obvious that you still have a passion for this subject, despite being so far removed from it in your personal life. To me, that’s one of the most impressive aspects of your site… aside from the incredible collection of resources here for us. Thanks for this one, and I look forward to reading it a few times so it sinks in. :)

    Irena,

    Along those lines… thanks very much for the success story. Recently, I’ve basically tried to implement a strategy where I only look for anxiety success stories or solutions. Absolutely no BS, symptom-checking, nothing. But, you’re right… it’s hard to find success stories. Not so much because they don’t exist. I actually believe most people who go through bouts of anxiety get over it completely. But, I think so few people think to do what you and Paul did… which is to make efforts to share your story and solutions with people. So, count me as someone who is grateful. Congrats, and keep enjoying being all or even mostly anxiety-free!

  5. says

    Hi Kasey, isn’t it ironic! LOL. Well. I’m glad you found AG. It’s one of those things you know, sometimes good things come from the unexpected. I just hope people don’t read material that stokes their fears and instead focus on solutions, wherever they may come from.

  6. Sylvia says

    Paul,

    After years of internalizing all those feelings and fears (known&unknown) how do you let yourself “feel” them? How do you open the door to let it out? I’ve tried just about everything except medications, I won’t go that route. I believe you have to walk through the desert to get to the other side, I feel I am on my way, very slowly, yet have 1000s of areas of quicksand that I must skirt. I do believe feeling the feelings is very important and a key to resolving anxiety, at least for me. Sometimes I feel emotions building and wanting to be released, a crack in the door, then the door is suddenly shut and I can’t reopen it.

  7. claudia says

    Paul….I am still fighting with this anxiety disorder…have all my life and I am now 67…would love to be able to figure out your secret….

  8. says

    Hi Sylvia, that is of course the million dollar question.

    In my case, when I had intense anxiety I thought that I would go crazy or die. I would worry about that.

    What I would not do is think about how I felt about it. Of course I felt afraid, but I also felt saddened, frustrated, and tired.

    I never used the other emotions as motivation to get better. I actually never dealt with them, period.

    Instead, I just tried to rationalize everything, but never did anything in a sustained way to stop the anxiety.

    Once I let go and allowed myself to really feel just how sad, frustrated, and tired I was, it drove me to take not just action, but sustained action.

    How did I do that? In my case I just broke down one day. It was an on rush of emotion that I apparently never dealt with because I was too busy trying to convince myself I was OK without actually doing anything to make that happen.

    How you do that will vary. Anxiety affects everyone differently, so it will also be resolved differently.

    I was stating my perspective, based on my experience. In that regard, your solution could look very different from mine.

    The point is to find something that will motivate you to take sustained action. Exactly what that is I don’t think is terribly important.

    In the end, there are many paths to being anxiety free.

  9. says

    Hi Claudia,

    Sorry to say I don’t have any secrets. Sometimes it’s even difficult to put into words what I achieved or how I did it. I guess that’s why this website exists. It is truly a complex issue with no easy answers. I encourage you to search the site. Try starting with the archives. There is just so much to talk about. Read through some of the older articles and hopefully you you’ll be able to piece together my message.

  10. alma vanessa zapatero says

    i have this heightened awareness or consciousness about my breathing. is this anxiety? i feel uncomfortable. how can i overcome this?

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