Overcoming Anxiety: Five Steps to Living the Life You Want
by Rev. Diannia Baty
A fear of our feelings, often stands in the way of us reaching our full potential. In this article, I’ll share the four steps to overcoming this fear and living the life you really want.
Step One: Emotional Mindfulness
In the first step, the goal is to increase our conscious awareness of our emotional experience. It starts off with becoming aware of our feelings as well as the ways in which we defend against them.
Emotional mindfulness, in part, is about becoming attuned to the signs that you’re having feelings. It necessitates taking the time to slow down and be more mindful of what’s going on in your body and to notice the ways in which you avoid your feelings.
Step Two: Taming the Fear
The main reason why many of us avoid our feelings is because they make us anxious. They feel scary or dangerous in some way. The key to being able to move forward differently is to find a way to tame that fear.
I teach people ways to regulate their anxiety so that they can diminish it and begin to open up to their emotions. This process takes some practice but doesn’t need to feel overwhelming as it can approached one step at a time.
If we can learn how to bring our anxiety down, even just a little bit, we can then open up to our emotions. The more we do that, the less afraid that we’ll be.
Step Three: Feeling It Through
This step is all about experiencing our emotions more fully. Contrary to what we fear, when fully felt, emotions don’t last for ever. They’re like a wave in the ocean, with an energetic flow. They have a beginning, middle, and an end. They may start off small and rise up with intensity or they may be like ripples in a brook that gently move through us.
But many of us end up behaving defensively to avoid our feelings and do all these things to stop them in their tracks. That’s when we get stuck and we think, “Oh my gosh. They’re going to last forever.” It’s our resistance to our feelings that prolongs distress.
The reality is that our emotions stick around longer when we do things to try to avoid them. If we’re able open up the experience and move with the energy, we’re able to feel them through and get to a better place.
Step Four: Opening Up
This step is finding a way to share our feelings with other people. Not every feeling needs to be shared. What’s most important is that we’re in touch with them and able to make use of their wisdom and power, but often our feelings motivate us to share them in some way. It’s up to us then to evaluate whether to let others know what we’re feeling. The idea of sharing feelings with others can be anxiety provoking for some of us. Sometimes we’re afraid about how others will react. Here is where we can make use of some of our earlier steps (such as ‘Taming the Fear’) in order to more comfortably be able to open up and share them with others.
Step Five: Pray and meditate
If you can’t meditate, you can pray. Have a good long talk with God and ask for any assistance or guidance you need. It always comes. Don’t leave God out of the loop.
By following these five steps, we can open up to new experiences and move towards our greater potential in life.
The most challenging step for most people is ‘Taming the Fear’. We avoid our feelings because they’re scary. When we get to the place where we start to feel afraid again, the natural tendency can be to go back to avoiding them. Without any help, when we start to feel our anxiety again, our reflex kicks in and we tend to want to avoid them.
If you’re feeling anxious, it can be a helpful sign that you’re getting closer to your feelings. That’s actually a good thing.
If you’re able to stay with it, you realize that you can tolerate it and you’re able to move forward.
When we’re able to begin to make room for our feelings, we soon learn that it’s relieving, that it provides us with clarity, a sense of truth, and that it motivates us to be able to face life’s challenges and move forward.
Then there are other people who have more of a struggle. Everyone’s different. Sometimes it can be a slower process. All that matters is that you keep at it.
Even if you’re taking tiny steps, ultimately over time they build up and your tolerance and your ability to be with your emotions increases.
I send you all my love and keep you in my prayers.
~ Lady D ~ www.makeachoicenow.com