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How To Stop Anxiety From Controlling Your Life

Posted on June 15 2015

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A close friend recently spoke to me about an ongoing tension headache. It was always worse on the weekdays and it turned into a full blown panic attack on Sundays. It was so bad that he could most times feel heat emanating from his forehead. My friend is incredibly healthy. He eats well, he works out and surrounds himself with good people. He’s an all around happy guy – except of course for the debilitating anxiety that sometimes cripples him and; thereby prevents him from doing the simplest of tasks. 

He knows this isn’t normal. I know it isn’t normal and we’re not the only ones admitting that feeling this way is in no way normal. Over the past few years, I have had friend after friend confide in me about feeling helpless and eventually hopeless. Something is wrong. They can’t put their finger on it but something is wrong.

Looking from the outside in, I can easily point out several factors responsible for triggering panic in the minds of so many. Stress is usually the main culprit but behind the stress lies many tiny soldiers battling people’s minds and most importantly, their souls. Lack of fulfillment, unmet expectations, unrequited love, disappointing relationships, lack of success, fear of failure, fear of getting older, fear of getting fat, fear of not being enough, fear of not moving fast enough or fear of others living a life better that yours. The list is endless. 

Worry, concern, apprehension, unease, agitation, angst…we can can mask what we’re feeling in as many words as we can find but I see it exactly for what it is – FEAR. Here’s how you move past it.

1. Stop

Be anxious for nothing. Stop fretting over what will be, my mother whispered to me for years. My mind would immediately respond with the thought that it is easier said than done. The fact is, no matter how many books and articles you read or therapists you speak to, the only way to stop being anxious, is to stop being anxious. If I had a friend who kept hitting me in the face, over and over and over again and I asked them to stop, and the response this person gave me was “I don’t know how to stop”. I would look at this person like they were insane. I can see myself yelling, “What do you mean you don’t know how to stop. Don’t lift your hand and don’t hit me in the face. Just stop.” Sorry to get graphic but you get the point. Stop fretting; stop thinking about what tomorrow will bring; stop worrying about what others will think. Just stop.

2. Surrender to life

In all of my years on this earth, nothing good has ever come from me fighting against life’s current. On the contrary, all good things have come from letting go. I’m not talking about getting complacent and lazy. I take inspired action when I’m supposed to; I show up when I’m supposed to. The rest is left to a magical force that seems to have my back in spite of what I think when things don’t seem to be going my way. I used to think that surrender meant giving up. These days, I know that it means trust; trust in the fact that I am not alone; trust that my journey is not an accident. Most importantly, it is the knowing that fear and worry will always change nothing.

3. Start living

A lot of us still believe in the idea that one day, everything will be perfect; the stars will align and we will finally have the perfect family, home, job, etc. In that moment, we will be happy. While we’re waiting and worrying about when that time will come, life is passing us by. Whenever you find yourself anxious about a situation, ask yourself if there’s something you can do to change it. If there is, do it. If there isn’t, leave it. When you start focusing on how you’re going to fix the situation or the million ways things could go wrong, you’ll only create more stress and anxiety. Let life work you, let it work things out on your behalf. Go, live, create, be amazing. When it’s time for you to take action, you’ll know. Remember that if you wait to live your life, life will wait to reward you.

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