Got Anxiety? Start here.
I never planned on developing a specialty in anxiety. But in the last 15 years, anxiety has seemed to find me as a mother, daughter, sister, friend and healing practitioner. Because earth-based healing ways rest on energy and relationship, I follow a different approach.
There is so much to consider if you’re struggling with fear and anxiety, but let’s start here:
You are not crazy.
I realize that you feel crazy because there isn’t always a “reason” for when your heart starts to clench or why that particular thought won’t stop spinning. I get that some practitioners lack of empathy or support can feel frustrating, painful and even maddening. But that doesn’t mean you’re crazy.
Crazy people don’t worry about being crazy. They don’t question their perception of reality; they’re simply lost inside it.
I’m not saying you’re doing great. You’re not. But you’re also not crazy.
You are a sensitive.
Most likely, one of the reasons that your system may be more activated, besides a potential history of trauma, is that you are a sensitive. I don’t mean in the way you’ve probably always been told, “Oh, you’re just being too sensitive.” No. After working with people from 25 to 70 years old, I’ve learned that most people with anxiety are more ENERGETICALLY sensitive.
This means that your level of perception–what you feel, notice, experience in any given situation–is naturally heightened.
I’ll tell you a story: One day, a client entered a store she’d been going to for over 20 years. Suddenly, she was flooded with anxiety and burst into tears. After calming down, she asked where her regular counter person was and was told he had died the week before.
You’re not too sensitive, you’re a sensitive.
You actually sense things that aren’t always apparent to others. And the challenge is, we don’t live in a culture that teaches you how to track what you’re perceiving so you can respond to it. Instead, our culture makes you feel wrong for being who you are and tries to numb away the pain. Unfortunately, suppressing sensitivity only heightens anxiety.
Stop trying to kill the fear.
I don’t mean to paint a rosy picture of anxiety. When my daughter was diagnosed with a serious illness, I got a crash course in navigating terror from the inside out. When you haven’t slept for days or years, when you’re afraid to drive across a bridge, when you’re wasting away from being too nauseous to eat, when getting out of bed feels like an insurmountable task, anxiety is dictating your life.
Of course we want the anxiety to go away. But if you have an abused dog shrinking in the corner of the room, does shouting at it help? Or do you need to slow down, be gentle and learn to listen so you can see what the dog needs to heal?
I encourage you to stop treating your anxiety like an enemy and start discovering what it’s communicating. I understand that moving closer to something that’s tormenting you may feel overwhelming. But the truth is, what you resist persists.
Really making space to listen for what’s inside your fear can help you discover more ways to cope. From there life doesn’t have to hinge on making anxiety go away. And when you stop trying to kill anxiety, it may not disappear completely, but it can simmer down.
Start treating anxiety as an energy work.
Even if medication or talk therapy is working for you, anxiety can be like a chronic illness. Because it tends to hang around, learning how to navigate it often demands we explore new avenues for healing.
Awhile back during a final meeting in a women’s group I’d been facilitating for two years, each woman began reflecting on being clinically diagnosed with anxiety at some point in her life. As the women shared how they shifted from feeling crazy, wrong, and exhausted by anxiety into a more empowered place that included emotional and even physiological changes, a realization crystallized: anxiety is an energy work.
Taking the label off of anxiety and considering it as energy that lives in our minds and bodies eases constriction. Energy can be fluid and flexible. Energy can unwind and transform.
Energy medicine can include acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, craniosacral, hands on healing and more. But really, we can turn anything into energy work. The women from my group discovered that running, jewelry making, dancing, connecting with nature, playing with children and even breathing deeply also transformed energy, especially when it was constricted.
I have no idea what will work for you, and that’s a good thing. Because getting creative about all the ways you might navigate anxiety can lead you outside the box towards discovering choice and developing power. Following your own pace can turn into a nourishing healing journey.
Realize how strong you are.
You may think you’re weak because you can’t make the anxiety stop. You may feel exhausted from lack of sleep or disoriented by the inability to eat much. Feeling tired or fragile or afraid doesn’t have to define your state of being inside.
I’ve traveled by your side while witnessing the level of energy, heart, and perseverance involved in doing what others take for granted—eating, sleeping, driving. I’ve also seen that when the shit hits the fan hard, you’re one of the first people to stand up. Strength doesn’t come from establishing control. Strength comes from developing resilience. Strength comes from accepting and even cultivating vulnerability.
I get that you may not believe in yourself, but from where I sit, you are strength personified. You just need to start leaning in to find your way. So you can learn how to sort through the static and start trusting yourself.
Until you realize your capacity to be brave and strong in the most important ways, I’ll be here. Holding the faith. In you.