• Gianna Sullivan

Moving Past Anxiety To Happiness

Word anxiety composed of anxious worried stressed faces of men and women

For many people, when you ask them what the barrier to their happiness is or what is stopping them from living a happy life, the answer will be anxiety. They may not always realize that it is anxiety; they may say that they feel uneasy, or that they suffer from physical symptoms of anxiety, or that they have a specific phobia or fear that prevents them from achieving their goals. They may say that if they had more money or a better relationship that they would be happy when really it is their anxiety over money or their anxiety over not being able to find that perfect relationship. Sometimes it is anxiety that is also preventing them from reaching their financial or relationship goals. Many of these people believe that if they could only solve a certain problem, then they would be happy; when really what they need to work on is moving past anxiety.

Moving Past Anxiety - First Steps

Noticing your triggers of anxiety can help you in moving past anxiety

The first step in moving past anxiety is realizing that it is often not the situation that causes unhappiness but rather our reaction to the situation. This is how some people appear able to meet difficult circumstances with apparent ease while others struggle. There are two important things to realize:

  • Anxiety is Not the Enemy

In fact, it serves a useful purpose. Anxiety is there to help us identify danger; it is like an alarm bell ringing to warn us. However, when we become sensitized, our anxiety can fire off for little or no reason, causing us to feel anxious, stressed, and unhappy. We begin to find reasons for why we don’t feel right, and small worries become big issues. It is very hard to relax and be happy with that alarm bell ringing all the time! However, once you understand that the anxiety alarm bell does not always mean that there is real danger to face, it is much easier to begin moving past anxiety. Once you stop feeding the anxiety by giving it all your attention, and you start to see it for what it is - the ringing alarm bell of a sensitized system - you will find that the alarm becomes quieter and even stops.

  • You are Not Alone

We all react differently to different things, and that’s ok. What causes me anxiety may not cause you anxiety; what causes you fear may not frighten me. It is so important that you accept that we all have our anxiety triggers. Even that person you think has it all together and never experiences anxiety and seems to meet every situation with confidence and poise! The chances are, other people cannot see your anxiety; they may think that you have it all together! Anxiety is a common human feeling and something we can all relate to. Never feel alone in your anxiety or in your journey of moving past anxiety to happiness. You may be able to help someone along on their journey too.

Moving Past Anxiety - Next Steps

Talking to a friend about you feeling anxious can help you towards moving past anxiety you may be feeling

If there is a reason for you to feel anxious, then accept that it is a normal reaction to the situation you find yourself in. If there is no obvious reason for you to feel anxious, then accept that sometimes these feelings come without any clear cause and resist the urge to go looking for something to worry about. In both cases, the physical symptoms and the emotional symptoms are real, but that doesn’t mean that they get to control you. You can allow these uncomfortable feelings. You can continue life while they are there. They are just guests in your emotional life, not permanent residents! Allow yourself to feel the feelings, and then let them pass on—no need to grab hold of them and find new reasons why they are justified. Simply allow, and move on. Do not let them stop you from doing the things you need or want to do.

Once you understand anxiety for what it is, you can also use some practical techniques to help you manage it. This requires a commitment to reduce stress and care for yourself. Self-care means taking time to relax or do things that you enjoy. Not only does this help to calm a sensitized system and quiet a busy mind, but also, it boosts feel-good chemicals in the brain and promotes good sleep. Sleep and diet are so important for the anxious mind. When your anxieties make you feel like you can’t relax, this is precisely the time that you need to relax!

Anxiety is a feeling that is usually triggered by a thought. When an anxious thought proves to be very stubborn and begins to become intrusive, it can help to write the thought down and look at it critically. So, for example, if your anxious thought is ‘Nobody likes me - my friends will probably abandon me,’ then ask yourself if you have any evidence for this. Challenge your anxious thoughts with logic. Is there really any proof that absolutely nobody likes you? Would good friends really abandon you? Then rephrase the thought, for example, ‘I feel a little insecure,” and then think about how you can deal with this in a practical way, for example, by chatting with a trusted friend about the fact that you are going through an anxious time.

Setbacks When Moving Past Anxiety

Personal problems and setbacks can occur

When moving past anxiety, it is also important to recognize that there will be setbacks. You may be moving past anxiety well and then find that the feelings return; perhaps when you meet with a tough life change, a difficult situation in your personal or professional life, or perhaps it seems like there is no reason at all. When this happens, it can feel like you have gone right back to the beginning of your journey. Always remember that setbacks are a normal part of the road in moving past anxiety towards happiness. Whatever your anxiety triggers might be, you can learn effective methods to move beyond them and embrace life again.

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