If you’re anything like me, then no matter how much you meditate, get massages, think positive, take bubble baths, or simply just (try to) ignore it all together, your anxiety seems to always be there, lurking in the background.
And even if you do manage to feel better for a while and finally embrace your inner peace, that sneaky little anxious voice always comes back around.
While there are plenty of great tools, tricks, and habits for helping you soothe your anxiety on a daily basis, today I would like to propose a more effective, and controversial, approach.
From all my years of “research” (aka living with anxiety), I’ve found this exercise to be the most helpful one of them all.
(P.S. A lot of our anxiety can stem from us not being loving towards ourselves. If you want to cultivate more self-love, start by downloading this awesome free printable I created for you, “21 Self-love Journal Prompts”!)
Step 1: Interview Your Anxiety
The real reason why your anxiety is constantly screaming so loud and driving you crazy is because you never take the time to actually stop and listen to it. #truthbomb
“The real reason why your anxiety is constantly screaming so loud and driving you crazy is because you never take the time to actually stop and listen to it.” Tweet It!
Most days your first instinct is to numb or ignore what it has to say so that you can feel some sense of relief. And while this can work for a little, it’s not the best long-term solution (as you’ve probably already noticed).
So what you’re going to want to start doing from now on, if you want to live in peace once and for all, is give your anxiety a voice and see what it’s all about. Get to know your anxiety, as if it were a person that you really wanted to hear out and understand.
When you feel anxiety coming up simply pause and ask that part of yourself, “Hey anxiety. What’s going on? I noticed that you’re feeling a little nervous lately. What are you worried or upset about? What are you scared of?”
Then wait and listen.
You can either meditate on this question, write down whatever starts to come up, or even say the answers out-loud, speaking as your anxiety.
I personally prefer to give my anxiety a voice through journaling or channeling.
If I’m journaling I’ll write down everything and anything my anxiety wants to tell me for as long as I have to until I feel like I got it all out.
As far as channeling goes, it may or may not be for you. (Some people find it a little too “woo woo”.) But, if you want to try it, all you have to do is close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and then take on the part or aspect of yourself that is always anxious.
I’ve named the part of me that’s always anxious “Anxious Kelsey” and when I’m channeling I literally become her, and only her, for that moment. That means I can’t access the thoughts of “Peaceful Kelsey”, “Optimistic Kelsey”, or any other part of myself that would want to fight my anxiety and make it wrong. I just go all the way the fuck there and take on the panic.
Can it be scary to hear what your anxiety has to say?
Is it uncomfortable to actually go there and let yourself feel really super anxious?
Yes. Yes, it is.
But is it worth it to do this so that you can feel better in the long run?
Step 2: Soothe Your Anxiety
Once you’ve dug deep, gone there, and done the “work” to reveal what your anxious part is freaking out about it’s time to respond with some compassion, kindness, and most importantly, love.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Kelsey, you’re telling me that I should love my anxiety? #WTF”
Yes, I am. And here’s why.
Somewhere along your path you probably experienced some kind of trauma that caused this anxious part of you to be born (out of necessity or maybe even survival). So now, whether you like it not, you’re stuck with it, because it’s a part of you.
And this part of you simply wants to protect you.
As much as it may feel like your anxiety is trying to make you eternally miserable. It’s not.
Resisting it is what makes you feel miserable. Because when you’re resisting a part of yourself, you feel split, cut off, and fragmented.
“When you’re resisting a part of yourself you feel split, cut off, and fragmented. The only way to feel whole is to love and accept ALL your parts.” Tweet it!
The reality is your anxiety is SO fucking on your side! It wants you to get all your needs met and live your best life so it feels that its job is to warn you of all the things that could potentially stop you from achieving this.
Isn’t that nice?!
If you had a person like this in your life wouldn’t you just love them to pieces for being so loyal and protective?
Imagine that you had a BEST friend who always had your back no matter what and was on the lookout for potential danger so that you would never have to encounter it in real life ever again like you had to in the past? Well, this friend is real and it’s called your anxiety!
Your anxiety is your friend. Not your enemy.
You’ve been hurt. It tries to keep you from getting hurt again. That’s it!
When you think of it this way it’s so easy to love. And that’s all your anxious part needs in order to calm down, a little love.
That’s all any of your parts ever need! They just want to be heard, accepted and embraced as a part of you, because they are.
So now that you realize the winning approach here is to love your anxiety, here’s how you can do it. Talk to your anxiety like you would a scared little child. Accept it as a valid part of yourself, thank it for its perspective, and then soothe it a little.
This could look, feel, or sound something like this, “Hey anxiety. I really understand where you are coming from. Thanks for always having my back and trying to protect me. I know you just want what’s best for me and I appreciate you for that. I want you to know that I’ve got you, I love you, and I am holding you.”
After doing this you should start to feel much better because you’ll be more whole. Instead of resisting a part of yourself, you are including and accepting it, maybe even for the first time.
This, my friends, is called integration and it’s a VERY powerful practice for cultivating more self-love.
So the next time you start to feel your anxiety rising, let it! Instead of trying to run and hide from it, embrace it with open arms. Hear it out. See what it wants to tell you.
You don’t have to like what it has to say or even try to feel good while you’re hearing it. Your only job is to listen and validate that perspective, then hold it and thank it with love.
Try this the next time you’re feeling anxious and let me know how it goes in the comments.