You know what it's like to feel anxious and worried about something. You know what it's like to have your mind focus on a situation that appears to have nothing positive about it and fret over it. There's nothing more unpleasant than getting caught in the anxiety cycle that causes so much fear and anguish. It happens to more people than you think.
Everyone has a hidden fear or phobia that ignites terror in the brain. Some may not even know they have fears lurking deep within. That's what happened to me.
I was never afraid of anything, nor did I display irrational fears over situations. Everything changed when I took on a job as a commercial building inspector in my early years.
After enrolling and successfully progressing through the educational phase, I was keen on getting started. I immediately requested assignments and drove to my first location, a three-story tall warehouse.
The building was nothing more than a large empty shell capable of driving 18-wheelers through it and storing massive amounts of clothing and other inventory. The moment arrived when I had to climb a 27-foot tall ladder affixed to the building. I headed toward the top. I recall tightly squeezing the ladder rungs. Every muscle was tense, then my legs and arms shook. I could only think of catastrophic life and death situations.
Throughout my climb, I exhibited classic signs of high anxiety. But by the end of the inspection, my anxiety level dropped significantly. Over the next several weeks, I inspected more buildings, and each time my anxiety over climbing tall ladders was less intense and shorter until it completely subsided.
The result of the experience highlights two essential truths about anxiety.
1. Anxiety naturally declines over time.
2. Anxiety varies by how people think and situations.
You may disagree and insist that because you experience anxiety daily maybe sometimes for hours, these statements are not true for you. I'm not suggesting that at all.
Instead, I'm sharing with you how anxiousness can prolong into a persistent state by how we react to situations and how we think.
You see, my anxiety rapidly declined through a repeated climbing experience. My alleviation came from eventually thinking and feeling confident over my climbing ability. But what if after climbing I preoccupied myself with the same thoughts and visions I had during my first climbing experience like:
- This is so dangerous.
- I don't know if I can make it.
- What if I fall.
- I'll never be able to make it to the top.
- If I fall I'll break a leg or worst my head.
- I don't want to die.
- I can't do this.
Now let me share with you thoughts I had after gaining confidence over my climbing experiences.
- This isn't so bad, all I have to do is...
- These ladders are sturdy and secured to buildings.
- People use ladders every day and rarely get hurt using them.
- I am strong, agile, and vigilant.
- Climbing is natural.
- People always get a little anxious when learning something new. No big deal.
Climbing ladders became such a source of enjoyment that I'd purposefully stop a few feet from the top and have a conversation with building staff on the ground.
It became a source of enjoyment because I was living in a mental space I once feared. Through practice, mental awareness, and a change in thought, the anxiety cycle stopped.
Your God-given ability to change how you think plays a significant role in eliminating the anxiety cycle. No matter how tall a ladder you have to climb, or situation, you fear the way you think affects your anxiety level and how long it lasts.
Continually thinking thoughts of weakness, danger, or vulnerability causes anxiety to endure persistently. Repeatedly experiencing a situation and thinking about it in positive ways as you work your way through it can lead to the total elimination of anxiety.
What I'm sharing with you is nothing new. For millennia people have intuitively used this technique to overcome all sorts of fears, and it's the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Once you train your mind, (anyone can and you can start right now if you want) you can stop prolonged anxiety cycles. The first lesson to learn is that people can selectively focus on a threat or danger which causes continued anxious bouts.
Your job is to be the guardian of your mind and direct it toward a more enjoyable mental space during any situation which is best done through mental and physical rehearsal.
Neither resisting or fighting with anxiety delivers the peace you're looking for. Resisting or fight anxiety can make it worse and often leads people to be anxious over being anxious.
Avoiding or escaping situations is another tactic many people use when the anxiety alarm is triggered in the mind. Avoiding or escaping is also unhelpful because it doesn't address the cause of anxiety.
Anxiety persists because the brain automatically processes perceived threats with extreme bias which sets off the physical anxiety cycle everyone hates.
You now have the basics for tremendous change. This is what you learned:
1. You know that prolonged automatic catastrophic thinking leads to persistent anxiety.
2. Continually thinking thoughts of weakness, danger, or vulnerability causes anxiety to endure.
3. You have the power to guard and guide your mind.
4. Fighting anxiety or trying to avoid doesn't work because it doesn't address the cause. Instead, it can make it worse because it can make a person feel anxious over anxiety.
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