Hi to all Careboxy readers. We have talked about why the mind can not solve everything in previous article and it is a sum of anxiety world and myths. In this article, we will discuss about one of the main problematic issue of anxiety: avoidance.
Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll cover:
♥AVOIDANCE IS PROBLEM
♥WE CAN’T CONTROL OUR ANXIETY
♥ANXIETY IS OUR PART
♥DO YOU AWARE OF YOUR STRUGGLE COSTS?
♥NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR ANXIETY
♥MINDFUL ACCEPTANCE CREATE A SPACE
♥ACCEPT AND SURF WITH ANXIETY
♥WHERE SHOULD WE GO WITH THIS ANXIETY?
AVOIDANCE IS PROBLEM AND FEEDING OUR ANXIETY
Let’s begin with some avoidance stories: i have mostly social avoidant because of fear of embarrassment or failure. I had running out of meet ups, interviews, public speaks. Avoidance made me have relief at those times. I run away from events and went to my bed or my games. I was a typical social phobic person.
All anxiety things have in common: avoidance. If we have panic disorder, we are avoiding of fear and avoiding from situations that can create panic. If we have snake phobia, we are avoiding possibility of fear to see snake. If we have social phobia, we are avoiding discomfort or fear of failure in public or in front of people. If we have obsessions, we are using compulsions to avoid our anxiety feeling or discomfort.
Avoidance is a short time relief and relief is giving reward to our brain. Our brain is reward monster and loves relief. However ,this monster is getting bigger with relief feeding. That is also making our anxiety and fear bigger.
WE CAN’T CONTROL OUR ANXIETY
All avoidance cost us too much and pulls us out of our life. We are trying short term relief with medications, alcohol abuse and other activities. Indeed, we are just delaying our experiences.
Anxiety avoidance is like itchy area in skin. There is an urge to get relief that itch. You are focusing on relief and avoidance of experiences. So you are making itch, however that itch become worse. Your struggle and make itch worse. Like itch, anxiety can show up anytime and anywhere. Avoidance of anxiety can pull us out of life.
Our struggling is like playing Chinese Finger Trap. No matter how hard we pull to get out of them, pushing in is what it takes. We can’t escape from our emotional pain with avoiding.
We are always in mood of control while trying to solve our problems. Controlling actually doesn’t work with our anxieties. Since anxiety is belongs to us, we can’t get rid of it while resisting them.
Anxious feelings and thoughts are always in the back seat of our life bus. Although anxious feelings and thoughts can disturb us, we as drivers can still go through valued life. Although we can’t control anxiety, we can control our actions and behaviors through life events. Therefore we can choose to go with anxiety and accept anxiety through our valued life.
ANXIETY IS OUR PART
We sometimes try to run from anxiety, but actually we can’t hide from anxiety. When the anxiety enters our mind in any moment of our life, it becomes our part. Whatever enters our mind, it stays in. We can’t remove a web connection from our mind or forget all these emotions and thoughts.
Moreover, anxiety is our brain response to dangerous situations. Our brains uses oldest part to response anxiety. This brain part is herited from reptiles to us. Like we can’t talk with reptiles, we can’t argue with our reptilian brain part too.
Although we can’t remove our anxiety from body, we can remix our brain mix with new ingredients like acceptance,compassion and kindness. We will see them in next articles.
DO YOU AWARE OF YOUR STRUGGLE COSTS?
We have social anxiety, we avoid first meet ups with people. Then, we can’t meet new people therefore we will have interpersonal costs. Our social anxiety can also lead to career issues due to public speaking problems. We can have extra sadness or depression about what we can’t do about our life that also costs us emotionally. If we have panic outdoor, we may not have great time with our family and children.
Now think about costs of your anxiety and write to a paper. Think about any scenario you faced in this year.
- What was your situation? Was that meeting or going to outside ?
- What was your anxiety concern?
- How did you try to manage your anxiety?
- How efficient was effect of your coping mechanism?
- What were the costs of not doing what you want and truly care?
This exercise will lead you to see the costs of health, career, interpersonal, family , financial. Maybe you have avoidance with alcohol. Maybe you have wasting lots of energy before experiencing any activity.
- Do you think any of these coping mechanism are successful in long term?
- Or are these coping mechanisms making your anxieties more intense in long term or relief in long term?
NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR ANXIETY
Our judgemental mind can turn thoughts, feelings, sensations and memories into something hard and heavy that can ruin our life. With resistance and struggle makes anxiety harder. When it comes to feelings&thoughts, antidote is to soften when our tendency is to harden. We can make this softening with mindful acceptance.
John Kabat-Zinn a noted mindfulness scholar has definition of mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. Feeding our judgements are fuel for struggling therefore practicing being in the moment with non-judgement is key to soften our worries,anxiety and mind judgements.
Mindful acceptance means watching our struggle without judging it. It’s not a feeling or an attitude. It is a skill for freedom from suffering. We can meet our anxiety and fears with softness, openness, gentleness and kindness.
Acceptance is not taking it as it is or being weak. Passive acceptance means sitting with emotional pain and do nothing. Non acceptance means struggling with pain. However we should have mindful acceptance. It is acknowledging what happened in past and experiencing what’s happening in present without judging. We are being fully conscious with life experiences.
Now try to be mindful with any object.
- For example, take a pencil and look it over.
- Look it with your all senses.
- Notice all details.
- Notice your evaluations for pencil.
- Now notice any of your judgements whether change pencil or not
Our judgement doesn’t change any raw experience. With mindful acceptance we are neutralizing our filter through looking the world. We are starting to feel raw experience itself. Since mindful acceptance is a skill, you can learn this skill at home. Then you can try in hard moments. We are providing mindful skills with exercises on our chatbot app.
MINDFUL ACCEPTANCE CREATE A SPACE
Our thoughts&emotions are sometimes leading us to wrong direction. If we hook on our thoughts and image, we can pull out of our lives through suffering life. With mindful acceptance, we will create a space to have a wiser choice in events and struggling moments.
In suffering mode, we are like a sailor in a sailing boat. With anxiety waves, boat can take water and we are starting to bail. If we focus on getting rid of this water, we can go to wrong direction. We can choose to go with a bit of water in bottom , but we can go to right direction for our life. We also need correct tools to deal with this water on bottom. If we have bailer that is actually sieve, we have struggling without benefits.
ACCEPT AND SURF WITH ANXIETY
Anxiety and other pains come and go through our lives. Every people has inevitably pain. But when anxiety comes to our house, we need to be also gentle with it. When we resist our guest anxiety, it becomes bigger and stronger. When we avoid it, it becomes bigger too.
Our emotions and thoughts are like wave, they come and go like ebb and flow. We are always seeing the peak wave and get afraid of that. But the waves of anxiety will weaken from peak and starts to decrease its power. If you choose to swim or ride with the waves of anxiety, it will drive you to safe shore.
Let’s do a simple Anxiety Surfing Exercise:
- Now think about last scenario you were anxious or in panic, visualize the scene and remember how you felt.
- What do you notice in your body right now? describe the sensation
- What are the feelings that go with that?
- What are your thoughts? Can you just notice them and let them go?
- Where are you on the wave? How strong is the emotion? (Use the 0-10 Subjective Units of Distress Scale—SUDS)
- Do you have any urges? What does the emotion make you want to do? See what it’s like to notice the urge without acting on it.
- Keep watching your thoughts, sensations. Notice the progress of this wave.
You can also use anxiety surfing with audio on our free Anxiety Chatbot app . With lots of practice we will learn to tolerate painful stimuli and live with them. There is also scientific evidence that mindfulness techniques changes our brain structure.
WHERE SHOULD WE GO WITH THIS ANXIETY?
We are sailor on our life boat. We are decision maker where to go. All people in world has some pain through their life. However we can choose to struggle with anxiety and create costs too much for our life or we can choose to go a valued direction and meaningful life.
Our values in our life are compass for our direction. We need to go through values that we care in areas of our physical, mental, spiritual, familial, interpersonal and social. Before moving to value exploration, we will talk about our mind traps of anxiety in next article.
You can use our free Anxiety Chatbot app to have a new journey on your anxiety. The app guides on your anxiety life journey with audios, meditations, photos and written exercises. You will have lots of skills to live with anxiety and live through a joyful life. You will find your steps in free Anxiety Chatbot app to be manager of your life instead of giving management of your life to anxiety.
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, John P. Forsyth, Georg H. Eifert