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