Anxiety can create a helpless and overwhelming feeling, literally making us want to crawl right out of our own skin. Most of us try to avoid this anxiety by forcefully altering our moods in various ways. In fact, anxiety prompts many of us to engage in a relentless attempt to become emotionally disconnected from ourselves with one thing or another.
Take a look at this checklist to see if you use any of these methods for dealing with anxiety. Then find out the most effective method ever, right here:
Do any of these mood-altering tactics apply to you?
Work: Feeling centered only while working or accomplishing.
Sex: Hiding from anxiety about other matters through compulsive sexual behavior.
Television: Avoiding discomfort by watching TV for hours on end, every day.
Drugs or alcohol: Escaping uncomfortable emotions through mood-altering drugs.
Tobacco: Using nicotine and the act of smoking to calm yourself.
Tasks: Needing to stay compulsively active with endless tasks or conversations.
Rage: Only feeling OK after inappropriately venting anxiety and anger.
Exercise: Using exercise compulsively as a way to avoid uncomfortable feelings.
Adrenaline: Using risky behavior as a form of mood-altering or stress-release.
Food: Eating compulsively in search of comfort.
Hoarding: Collecting and saving items endlessly.
Shopping: Purchasing an item based on the idea that it will bring comfort, or seeking comfort in the act of buying.
Cleaning: Cleaning endlessly in order to avoid stillness, which might bring on anxiety or other uncomfortable feelings.
The fact is, none of these methods gets to the root of anxiety; they are all a way of hiding. For as long as we continue to avoid a given feeling, we cannot recognize its root cause and free ourselves from it. Although some emotions may seem unpleasant, we must fully embrace and accept all of them if we wish to avoid their control of us. The way out of needless suffering is to accept the reality of whatever we are feeling rather than trying to avoid or change it. Through acceptance of our feelings, we can give ourselves more space. This allows us the room we need to take an objective step back and better see the reality of any situation at hand. When we are not absorbed in emotional turmoil, we are at peace, meaning we are still and quiet inside. The stillness of this space is the essence of inner peace.
Adapted from Present Moment Awareness, by Shannon Duncan (New World Library, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Shannon Duncan. Reprinted by permission of New World Library.
Adapted from Present Moment Awareness, by Shannon Duncan (New World Library, 2003).