Remember anxiety is not a life sentence if you learn to see it for what it is and get back in the driving seat.
From the time man roamed the earth they have always had to fight for survival. They have killed their prey in battle or to put food on the table. They learnt the difference between fight and flight and it was simple, you either stayed and fought in the battle, were killed or lived to fight another day. The trouble is that modern man not only has to fight for survival in the simplest sense, but he has to manage the rigours of a much more complex society.
Today we have to fight to stay in work, we have to fight to access transport, we have to fight for our place to drive on the roads, we have to walk around in a constant state of what if, we have to fight drugs, alcohol, medicine, much more rampant disease, terrorism, dictators and war mongers. We virtually have to fight to fit in to what we have been conditioned to expect from modern day life. And that is why so many of us suffer from, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
What is GAD
GAD is anxious thoughts or excessive worry about a number of different situations you might have to deal with in your everyday life. For example, traveling on public transport, walking up escalators, meeting people who you haven’t met before, giving a presentation, taking your driving test. GAD can be very debilitating as there is no clear reason for the anxious thoughts or excessive worry and this can be very scary for the sufferer.
Each and every day anxious thoughts rush through our minds a rate of knots. Mostly, those anxious thoughts are disregarded as false thoughts. But, those people who overreact to those anxious thoughts and make them real are controlled by those thoughts and feelings and don’t know where they have come from or how to deal with them. Most people will take control and carry on, despite feeling a little intrepidation and understand that the anxious thoughts are quite simply the way the brain expects you to react to a situation it doesn’t recognise, for example if you find yourself in danger or having to do something you have not had to do before. You will act in one of two ways, you will either stay and fight or you will run away – in other words you will use your natural instinct to stay and fight or you will take flight. Those people who believe that they have to get away from everyday events because of anxiety have to find a way to control those feelings and get back in the driving seat.
Get back in the driving seat
So here is how you get back in the driving seat and take control. You start by following these 5 simple steps, practising them every day, in fact you adopt them as part of your life and very soon you will stay
and fight and not take flight.
And the final step, step 5 will take you from zero to hero, the golden thread, enabling you to live the
life you richly desire and not the life someone else had planned for you. You will join the dots moving forward and never have to look back.
“You have to believe that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”. Steve Jobs
The 5 Simple Steps
The 5 steps will teach you how to deal with your GAD when facing difficult or unknown situations because very often what you are reacting to are misleading brain messages. You are not your brain and practising the 5 steps will quite simply stop the misleading brain messages from controlling your life.
Step 1- Rename
Rename – notice the misleading brain messages and those uncomfortable sensations; admit to what they really are.
Are they real or imagined, is there a simple explanation for how you are feeling or reacting, or are you in real danger or not? If you are giving a presentation and the uncomfortable feelings kick-in leave the room for a few minutes to settle yourself and then resume, or imagine that the presentation has been successful and you are listening to the applause from the audience. When you give what you are doing a name and a place in your mind and practise its success the experience will be altogether more enjoyable. Also, when you understand what is really happening you can then learn to calm down and reassess the situation, you can give what you are experiencing a name and an identity and when you do you are in control and not the anxiety.
Step 2 – Reframe
Change your understanding of the importance of the misleading brain messages; allow yourself to say why these thoughts, feelings and impulses keep worrying you: They are misleading brain messages (accept it’s not YOU, it’s just your BRAIN!).
When you reframe something you give it a new lease of life, like your favourite photograph. You look back on the experience and the happy times it conjures up in your mind. Close your eyes and step back from your feelings for a moment and try to imagine being somewhere you love to be – I can’t help you with that one, but if you love the beach, that is always a good one, if not think of somewhere else. If you do decide to think about being on a beach, just imagine walking in the warm sand and imagine the warm sea splashing on the warm sandy beach. Just think that you are there right now and very soon the misleading brain messages will be gone, taken over by your mind and the feelings you are imagining. What you have experienced if you invest in the feelings and relax, is self-hypnosis. Practise this exercise every time the misleading brain messages try to take hold – it does take practise, but once you master it, you will benefit greatly from doing so.
Step 3 – Relocate
Direct your attention towards an activity or mental process that is wholesome and productive – even while you are experiencing the misleading thoughts, feelings and impulses. Concentrate on something that you love to do, like walking, cycling, going to the gym, listening to your favourite music, watching your favouite film or television programme, in fact anything which brings pleasure to your life and by engaging in these activities the natural feel good endorphins in the brain will be fired and you will start to feel better. These endorphins are produced naturally by the nervous system to deal with pain and stress and even something as simple as smiling will alleviate your anxiety.
Step 4 – Reappraise
With clarity see right through these thoughts, feelings and impulses for what they are, simply sensations caused by misleading brain messages, that are not true, have little to no value (they are something to dismiss, not to focus on). When you reappraise something you look into it from a different angle, deeply, more critically and judge it on its merits and whether it is real, for example is it good for you. Anxiety stops your natural thought processes and your ability to judge situations appropriately, but when you are able to judge situations you find yourself in and regain your natural thought processes you have conquered step 4.
Step 5 – Wise Counsel
This is the most important step, the glue which holds it altogether and the step which consolidates your success. The step which truly means you are anxiety free and no longer being controlled.
This is your attentive mind that can see the true picture, the bigger story, including your true gut worth, your capabilities and your accomplishments. You are quite simply the super hero with super powers, you can do what you want, when you want and how you want, because you are the expert, the innovator, the shaper, the chair, the completer finisher, the decision maker and your future.
The Wise Counsel knows you and understands your thinking and it sees the misleading brain messages for what they actually are and where they are coming from. The Wise Counsel understands how you are feeling, both physically, mentally and emotionally and knows only too well how destructive and unhealthy any habitual automatic responses have been.
When you apply these 5 steps to everything you do in life, you will find your true self and see who you really are, which is based on sincerity, striving to embody the values you hold dear to yourself and therefore you will truly achieve the goals you truly believe in.
These 5 steps will also enable you also to learn to approach yourself, your true emotions and needs, from a loving, caring, nurturing perspective that is consistent with how your loving inner guide (Wise Counsel) views you.
Importantly, The Wise Counsel wants the very best for you, quite simply because it loves, cares and wants to encourage you to value your true self and make decisions hastily based on the truth and what’s in your absolute best interests. And most importantly to pass on your wisdom and what you have learnt on to somebody else because you are the Wise Counsel!
To your ultimate success