4 Simple Tips To Help Erase Anxious Negativity and Fear
4 Simple Tips To Help Erase Anxious Negativity and Fear
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Now, let's talk about our ways to help erase anxiety and that anxious negativity. Much of what we are talking about when we get into negativity is stuff that has been bubbling up out of our subconscious. I hear it from people all the time that they say it came out of the blue, they don't know where it came from, they weren't thinking about it, and the reality is we're not thinking about a lot of these things consciously. We have, we used to think it was 90% was subconscious and only 10% of our mind was conscious, then it went to 95%, and now I've heard it's even more. More than 95% of our mind, of our thinking is subconscious, so that means we're not aware of it. It doesn't mean it's not there, it just means we don't have the awareness of it, and so it does feel like many things come out of the blue.
The subconscious mind learns things through repetition and it learns thing very early on. We don't put it in there so much on purpose, it kind of when we're little, I think it's up to age six, you're like a sponge, everything goes right in and is stored in that subconscious. We also plant things in our subconscious mind through repetition. If we feed it the same information over and over again it keeps overriding it, and then the information is etched in. These are habits, there are things that we don't need to be thinking about, but that we just keep doing. Now, that's great for a lot of things. It's wonderful that we don't have to think about every movement. Once we've learned how to drive we don't have to think about every movement that needs to be done consciously, it's very deeply etched into our subconscious, so are things like brushing our teeth, walking, many things in our life. This is all a blessing. This was all set up to work for us, just as most of life is working for us, we just can't see how sometimes, especially when we have etched deeply some very negative thinking.
I like the example of riding a bicycle. When you first learned to ride a bicycle it was like crazy to think how am I going to figure out how to balance on this thing, But you keep trying, and you can maintain the balance for just a little bit, and then a little longer, and finally you can maintain the balance for a long period of time, but the only reason you could do that was because of the repetition, because your subconscious mind was able to pick up what it is that you have to do to maintain that equilibrium, that balance. And so, that's a great thing, we don't have to think about it again for a lifetime. I haven't been on a bike in a long while, and I know I could get on a bike and just ride it because it doesn't disappear from our subconscious. So, that's an important thing to remember as we pay attention to what it is that we are putting in, we want to be careful because it doesn't just disappear, it's, we want to be careful with how we think. It's important to discriminate with our thoughts and not willy-nilly follow them down the wormhole, go off into these what ifs and horror stories. Those are just stories, we have a choice as to whether we go there or not.
Once the information is fed into our subconscious mind and is repeated often enough it's, it gets deeper and deeper. You hear me talk about that, how we just etch it deeper and deeper, and so it takes a little bit more awareness to change it if we need to, and it can be changed, but it's more effort if we have this deeply ingrained, let's call it a habit, right? Just like if you learned how to drive a car wrong, let's say maybe you learned how to do a clutch or your gears in an odd way, it would be hard to break that habit after somebody showed you, “Oh, it works much better if you just do this.” It would be hard for you to break it. You could, but it would take a lot of attention, a lot of awareness of what you're actually doing, and that's why bad habits are so difficult to break, both physical habits, such as driving a car or riding a bike, and our mental habits in how we think and process our thoughts, and our beliefs of ourself, our insecurities, our world view, our anxiety.
We have thought this over and over again, “If I do this I get scared. If I do that my heart beats funny. If I do this ...” We have thought these things over and over again, we have etched it deeper and deeper, and it doesn't mean that it can't change, but it does mean that it's going to take attention and awareness. Awareness is a habit, and the more you actually practice awareness the more it becomes a part of you, it becomes second nature. Again, like I said, like driving a car, you can learn how to drive it well or you could learn how to drive it in an odd way, and whichever one you practice is the one that's going to become second nature to you. Same with your thinking, same with awareness.
So I have four simple techniques here or tips for you to try as these are extremely useful in developing this awareness of where your mental process if for your anxiety, where your negative thinking is going and what you can do with it, and it all starts with this awareness.
First off, you want to be conscious when you are thinking, and this is why we practice meditation, because in day-to-day life we get lost in our thoughts. We know that from when we practice our meditation, we get to actually pay attention to how easily we go running off with a thought, so the goal is to be able to detach from your thoughts for a few moments and watch them as a neutral observer, and that's what we're talking about when we are sitting in meditation. This practice can help you become aware of the negative thought patterns. You find yourself questioning your beliefs, and thereby weakening negative beliefs and consciously replacing them with positive ones. So here's what we do when we're in our meditation, you sit and you become aware of your mind producing these thoughts and you don't engage with them. There's a lot of different ways that we talk about this. Maybe today's talk about meditation and how we sit with watching our thoughts will be the one that grabs you. If you find yourself getting engaged with a thought, take a moment to acknowledge it and then return back to watching.
In meditation we often talk about coming back to watching our breath, it's kind of a way to take you away from watching the thoughts, but you can actually go back to just watching the thought, just don't run away with it. So if you don't want to watch your breath, if you don't like to pay attention to your breath, which is very common with some people with anxiety, you can just go back to being clear that “I don't go with the thought, I am simply the observer of the thought,” so return back to watching. If certain thoughts produce strong emotions feel the emotion instead of trying to suppress the thought. Again, we don't want to run away from it, what we resist persists remember, but we want to just stay with feeling the emotion rather than trying to get rid of the thought. Divert your attention within the body and feel the energy behind the thought.
As you watch the thought you'll become aware of many negative thought patters that you have. Simply becoming aware of these thought patterns is often enough for them to start disappearing, they fall apart. They can't stand with the light shining on them, they evaporate, just from your awareness, from you shining the light of awareness on these thoughts, so don't run from them. Again, if you have these feelings that come up, strong emotions, don't try to suppress the thought, stay with it, shine the light of your awareness on it, feel the energy of it, but just feel the energy of it. It isn't, it doesn't do anything, it's just a feeling, it goes through you. Don't run away from it, don't try to squash the thought, it's just a thought that passes through.
Next, I want you to consciously feel your emotions. Feeling the emotions will help you to understand that we have a thought and then an emotion, and if will help you see what kind of thoughts produce what kinds of emotional responses in your body, and this, again, this attention to it, this awareness on the process tends to weaken and release the hold of strong negative emotions. If things come up when you are out and about with other people and you can't actually kind of take time to shine the light of awareness on it, because you can't even take the pause that is required to do that, you can save it for when you get back home, you don't need to do it right then and there, but what you want to do is take it then when you get home and recreate what was happening and what was going through your mind, either through your journaling or in your meditation time. Let it come back up again and feel it fully. Let it arise. Let, don't be afraid of it.
This is what we have to, we have to find ourselves in our safe home, in our safe meditation cushion or chair and just let it come, let it be there, and as the emotion is there and you can fully feel it, you can see again, with your shining the light of awareness on it and being fully present with it versus trying to run away from it, that it begins to fall apart, it beings to lose its power. What you're doing here is becoming aware of the thought patterns and reactions, the thought patterns and the reactions that are caused in your body because of those thoughts.
The next thing I want you to do is to consciously feel your body. We are very disconnected from our bodies when we are suffering with anxiety. We live in our minds. We're living in the stories of our minds and not connected to our bodies well at all, so becoming aware and consciously feeling your body can help you to learn how to relax the body and really help you to start healing. We've talked about it before that when you are in fight or flight you are not healing we need to be in our rest and digest, which is the parasympathetic nervous system in order to be doing our healing. That's another reason that sleep is so important.
You may have body parts that tense up when you're engaged in a particular activity or doing something in particular, and a lot of people it's their shoulders, a lot of people it's the back, and often the jaw, the jaw muscles and the teeth get grinding and clenching, so notice where your body parts are that get tensed up when you're heading into your negative thinking or your anxious thinking. Some of the best ways to become aware of this is to practice it first in meditation, and then you can just be aware of it when you are out and about living your day, and so when you are sitting quietly in your meditation feel the inside of your body. You can do the body scan that is on our website AnxietyCoachesPodcast.com. You can get that and listen to it, and you simply learn to become aware of each piece of your body, starting with the feet and moving up the body, all the way up to your head, and as you scan the body you can be there with it, and then you can notice it, and when you notice it you can notice is it tense or is it relaxed, and you can practice relaxing various tension points along the way.
If you find certain parts of your body are aching you may want to spend more time there and relax those parts even more. After you've done the body scan a number of times you can just do it in your own head, you don't need to listen to the recording or me saying it over and over again, you can, you'll just embody it, it'll be a part of you, and you can be laying in bed going to sleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night you can even do it. It is magic. It is like magic to be inside your own body. We don't go there, we go to the mind, we go [inaudible 00:16:24] thoughts, but we rarely spend time with the, you can actually feel the energy in your body. Let's do that right now. Let's all just take a moment to at least take one of your hands if not both and see if you can feel inside your hand an energy or a chi? If you can feel ...
And the more attention you pay to it the more you'll be able to feel it, but this is just one simple exercise. Doing the body scan does that throughout the whole body, and you will be amazed at how you will be able to know your body better and to know where you are holding your tension, because relaxing your body is a key in healing our anxiety - panic we have to let the body tell the mind things are okay, and when the body is tense it is not sending a message of safety, it is saying something is wrong. So we want to use our discernment, our wise mind and say “Body, let's relax so that we can send this new loop.” Instead of an anxiety, fear, adrenaline, fear cycle we can send a safety, relaxation, safety message that we are newly looping. The more relaxed your body feels the more rejuvenated it will feel, and I love, if you can use the body scan for going to sleep if you have trouble going to sleep, and once you learn it you can just lay down and go through it on your own with your own mind.
Finally, I want to talk about consciously focusing your attention. At any given time our attention is divided between many, many different things. Most of us don't have control over our own attention and it wanders. Our attention wanders around, right, and it goes wherever it wants to go. It's like a wild child, it's running all over the place, so I want you to be able to spend a little bit of time to get a little control over your attention, because the more control you have the better you will be able to do the other things that we were talking about, such as spending time inside the body and feeling it relax. The best way that I know of bringing your attention into a place where it gets stronger and stronger is to use it. You may not want to call it meditation, maybe you can just call it your five minute sitting with attention practice, because some people are just resisting meditation, but if you can get the attention piece down here first you might be a little more warmed up to meditation. So I want you to sit for five minutes, and again, if you don't want to do five or you're resiting five I implore you to do one minute and just do it consistently, because again, what are we doing? Then we're overriding these old habits, and what we need most of is attention.
This is our mindfulness piece. We're going to sit for hopefully five minutes and get mastery over our own attention. So we're sitting quietly, and all you want to do is bring your attention to your breath and keep it there. If you don't like your breath at the belly you can just use the feeling of air going in and out at the nose, that's fine. A lot of people are more comfortable at the nose, because it's less about “Am I doing it right,” it's just checking in on the feeling. So let's use the tip of the nose, feeling the air of the inhalation and then the air of the exhalation, just feeling it, and keep your attention there for as long as possible. If your attention begins to wander just bring it back again. If you are off on flights of fancy or negative wormholes just say “Oops, I lost my attention on my nose, I'm going back.” No judgment, no doing it wrong, we all lose our attention, and what we're doing is we're practicing so we'll be better at it. So you keep doing this practice and you'll start to gain control over your attention and your ability to focus, and where you put your focus really matters, but if you don't have control over it you can't form it, you can't teach it where to go.
So this is the first piece, get your attention under control, and just practice it with those little five minutes, your little attention practice. You are going to be amazed how different this is going to make you feel when you all of a sudden then are out in your day, the mind is going wild on all these thoughts and you actually have the thought to “Oh, pause,” and now you get to decide which way do I want it to go? You have the the wherewithal, because you've been practicing your attention, to bring it into the, go in the direction that you want it to go, and to not fly off on these negative, negative paths.
You can do this, I know you can, and I look forward to hearing how you are doing with it.
Send me an email, AnxietyCoachesPodcast@GMail.com.