By: Kellie Pavlish, M.Ed., LPC
You are more than likely thinking why would I want to accept the experience of anxiety that can be both overwhelmingly debilitating and paralyzing at times.
Anxiety can serve beneficial purposes for individuals. Think of when you feel moderately anxious before an important job interview or a school exam. This anxiety can provide the motivation to prepare for both. Anxiety can also serve as a signal when there is a real threat we are facing that we must take action against. Therefore we don't want to rid ourselves of anxiety all together, but rather learn how to accept and manage our anxiety.
Think of when you feel moderately anxious before an important job interview or a school exam. This anxiety can provide the motivation to prepare for both ...
So often we attempt to reject anxiety by telling ourselves, "stop feeling anxious," or "don't think that thought," and the list goes on. The result is typically increased anxiety. Let's look at an example. What if I were to tell you to not look to the right? What would you most likely want to do? Look to the right! The same for anxiety, the more you tell your brain not to focus on something, the more it becomes the main focus of your mind. This is an example of the concept of rejecting anxiety. By directing yourself not to feel anxious, you inevitably begin to feel more anxious.
So how does one accept anxiety and regain control and power of one's mind and experience? By utilizing acceptance we are then diminishing the fear that is evoked by having anxiety. Believe in your ability to manage symptoms of anxiety, and keep in mind that anxiety doesn't last forever and eventually another emotion will take the place of that anxiety. Remember, humans have the capacity to be resilient and you have persevered through periods of anxiety before and can again. The power of self talk can go from thinking, "stop feeling anxious" to "I am feeling anxious right now, this is temporary and I can use coping skills to get through." This is an example that illustrates rejecting versus acceptance.
Through therapy you can learn various coping skills to confront the symptoms of anxiety. You can learn to accept anxiety as an experience that you can take control of, through time, patience with yourself, and compassion. You can be the one in control of your anxiety as opposed to allowing your mind and the anxiety to be in control of you.
Kellie Pavlish, M.Ed., LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
866-466-9591 Ext. 24