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How To Conquer Anxiety

Reduce stress.

Doesn’t that answer just infuriate you?

We are immersed in a culture that places so much value on having more and doing more, yet 90% of our illnesses and diseases derive from stress caused by the drive to have and do more.

Perhaps the solution is not that we need to “do” anything to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Perhaps the solution is to do less and simply be more.

I had an experience a few years ago that really drove this message home to me.

I was gifted an afternoon to myself by my then husband who decided to take the kids out for the day and give me some much needed alone time. It’s funny how when I imagine what it would be like to have more me time, I imagine myself blissfully meditating or doing yoga, taking a bath, reading a book, taking a nap…. The options are so delicious and seemingly endless.

But what I chose to do that day was to catch up on some much needed weeding of the landscaping beds around our patio.

Sidenote to all moms out there: if you are gifted an afternoon to yourself, pulling weeds is never the best option for how to spend your time. Do something that nourishes your soul instead.

With each weed I plucked I noticed myself becoming more and more agitated, furious even at those weeds. I was angry that I “had” to spend my precious time to myself pulling weeds. (just to be clear I now fully accept that it was a choice that I made at the time, but in the moment I was so pissed at those weeds and couldn’t see beyond the anger)

As the resentment swelled inside of me, I knew enough to know that if I didn’t stop weeding and figure out what was happening inside of me that not only would my afternoon be ruined, I would take my anger out on my family when they returned.

I put down the weed bucket and went inside to meditate.

Here is what I realized:

  1. I was not angry at the weeds, I was angry at the voice in my head that said I “should” do something productive with my time instead of “wasting” my time relaxing. This was the voice that believed my worth comes from doing rather than being.

  2. Underneath the anger, was a lot of guilt and shame about doing things that feel good to me. To spend a few hours taking care of myself felt selfish and for some reason I thought that weeding would make me feel less guilty about not spending time with my children because at least I was “doing” something else.

  3. That my decision to weed came from a place inside of me who desperately wanted to control my environment, because if I could make the space around me feel vibrant and vital then I could be at peace on the inside too.

By the end of my meditation I was sobbing with grief because I felt the truth that the home I had been efforting and trying to create for my family was always just out of my reach not because I wasn’t “doing” enough, but because it was a projection of the inner chaos happening inside of me.

It didn’t matter how much time I spent cleaning, organizing, or weeding. That until I addressed the inner chaos that was happening inside of me - the peace I craved around me would never appear.

This is the curse of anxiety. In a state of anxiety, we are focusing so much on controlling our outer world so we don’t have to feel the inner chaos that is churning under the surface.

If you want to conquer your anxiety you have to allow yourself to feel the inner chaos. Let it rise to the surface and show you what is real and true.

The source of anxiety is not stress, the source of anxiety is not believing you can have what you want.

And it can be revealed by completing these sentences as openly and honestly as you can.

My world would fall apart if……

I will be just fine in life as long as ……. (this happens or doesn’t happen)

Dear God, please answer my prayers. I am willing to do anything you ask of me, EXCEPT…...

For me, I thought my world would fall apart if I admitted that I wasn’t happy with the life I had created and actually took the steps necessary to create the life I really wanted. I thought I would be just fine as long as my husband cleaned more, I had more time to myself, made more money, had more time with the kids, etc.

The problem was the moment that one of those things failed to happen, it would send me into a tailspin of anxiety and anger. I was trying to control the people and things around me so that I didn’t have to feel the discomfort I felt in my life.

The trap of anxiety is that we believe that our ability to be at peace is dependent on our outer world being in alignment with the things we want.

Conquering anxiety has nothing to do with managing our stress. Anxiety dissolves easily and freely when we stop believing that what we have and what we do is a reflection of our worth.

When we accept that creating the life we desire is about making choices that feel good to us.

To truly surrender is to allow whatever needs to fall away in your life to fall away.

It is only when we allow the falling apart that we realize, the new life that is being born is even better than the life we were trying to create.

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