Anxiety is a gift Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Saturday, 23 July 2022 07:01
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“There’s no shortage of trouble in our world . . . But life goes on and we have a choice. We can become overwhelmed, or we can open our hearts to one another and to the beauty that is still around us.” 

So says Joan Borysenko. She says that she and her husband took a friend out to dinner. All three of them have been feeling stress and grief and spoke about what they could do to stay present and hopeful in these taxing times.

What the three of them had in common was a love of nature and gardening . . . and the refuge of friendship. And what a refuge that can be, girlfriend! But, what about the times it’s not? Master Mingtong Gu says that we have all felt lonely while surrounded by people we love. He says that we live with so many layers of hurt and grief and perpetual stress and anxiety that we end up disconnecting. We hide our true selves – from ourselves and others – because it feels safer.

So, how do you heal this disconnectedness? Maybe one way is to welcome the anxiety you might be feeling right now as a gift. Christy Whitman says that when you’re in the middle of an anxious moment, anxiety feels like anything but a gift. But, once you understand what it’s trying to tell you, you’ll appreciate the gift.

“Anxiety is simply a messenger. And once we receive the message it’s trying to convey, the energy of it naturally releases from our system. Unfortunately, most of the time, we shoot the messenger.”

Christy says it’s easier to receive the gifts of anxiety when you realize that anxiety is not actually an emotion. It’s an indication that we have emotions that we haven’t allowed ourselves to feel. It’s a protective mechanism that temporarily shields us from becoming overwhelmed with deeper emotions.

According to Christy anxiety has three gifts. The first one is that anxiety gets you to pay attention. “The energy of anxiety is kind of like a fire alarm. It goes off to let you know that some important aspect of you or your life needs attention,” she says. To receive this gift, take some time to check in with yourself and allow yourself to connect with the underlying emotion it’s calling your attention to.    

The second gift is that anxiety arises to signal a block in your energy. “Emotions are simply energy in motion. And anxiety is an indication of a block or a repression of that normal flow of emotional energy.” 

“So, once you’re present with the underlying emotions that are blocked, grant them permission to exist, instead of pushing the sensation aside. See if you can accept however you are feeling in the moment, knowing that emotions are nothing more than waves of energy.”

The third gift is that anxiety reminds us to focus on what it is we desire, not on what we don’t want. Whenever we’re feeling anxious, one thing is sure: We’re focusing more on what we don’t want than on what we do want. The next time you’re having an anxious moment, remind yourself that you can deliberately direct your focus. 

Ask yourself: What if so-called symptoms of anything are simply messages? Right now many people are diagnosed as having seasonal depression: Feeling sluggish, having difficulty concentrating, craving carbs, and withdrawing from social activities (aptly called hibernating).

Why is it a disease that has to be medicated when you feel a meaningful shift in winter? Dr Kelly Brogan says that modern living fails to recognize the cyclical nature of life. Yet, even thyroid functioning slows in the winter, which is not a pathology and might explain the carb cravings and lowered energy that are diagnostic criteria for seasonal depression.

Recognizing that winter is just part of the cycle; can we reframe our experience and see seasonal depression as the gift of hibernation, similar to the gifts that something as unwanted as anxiety can bring us?

It’s true, girlfriend, right now there is trouble in our world and we feel anxious, but – as Rumi says – “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”

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