Anxiety is the symptom, not the disease

Is anxiety a form of fear?

What is anxiety anyway? It seems like a lot of us deal with it on a constant basis without fully understanding it.

When I finally started to examine my own anxiety, trying to discover its roots, I was often surprised by what I found. In a way, I had started to like my anxiety. Like isn’t the right word, though. Maybe I’d just started to tolerate it, to prefer it to the alternatives.

Anxiety is such a meddlesome, sneaky thing. In my own life, anxiety has caused me to miss countless opportunities for growth. From social relations to  career and education opportunities, anxiety has made me back away from value once too often.

I’ve decided to finally tackle it head on. I won’t allow myself to be dominated by an irrational fear of life any longer.

What I want to write about today is how we can think clearly when we’re feeling anxious.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual.

Part of it is because my skin has been getting worse. For those who don’t know, for the last few years I’ve been dealing with horrific skin problems, but I honestly thought it was over. Not so, apparently.

Apart from that, I’ve had a lot to think about at school, I bruised a rib at judo practice, and my girlfriend and I have been having weird conversations about our sex lives before we met (that’s an anxiety challenge for you!).

So suddenly I’ve found myself at the center of a series of coincidental, anxiety-provoking events.

Ah well. It is what it is.

Seeing clearly

What’s been bothering me about this the most, is the way I stop seeing clearly when I’m feeling anxious. Like, I start to imagine people judging me without an inkling of evidence. Or I start to project negatively into the future, ruminating on what could go wrong with whatever I’m doing.

Worst of all though, I feel like I’ve been alienating my girlfriend somewhat.

We talked about this at length last night, and I figured out that I’ve been projecting all kinds of thoughts onto her, without having anything to back them up. Thoughts like she must be cheating on me, or she doesn’t like me anymore, or she doesn’t want to spend time with me.

After talking to her about this, I realized that I was being incredibly narrow-minded by allowing myself to blame her for my insecurities. As with so many problems in life, this one stems from avoiding responsibility for my own life.

Instead of seeing things as they are, I look to some weird fantasy to comfort me.

What’s actually going on, is that I’ve been having a hard time due to my bad health coinciding with a lot of school work, and that’s made me more sullen and somber than I usually am. This change in my mood all of a sudden is bound to affect my girlfriend. And that’s exactly what happened.

Understanding

It’s okay now, though. I feel like we worked through this issue and I realize the fault lies with me. Not that I blame myself, exactly. It’s more that circumstances are such that life is a bit harder than I want it to be. But now that I understand what’s going on, I can take full responsibility for how I feel and actually change it.

This means, first off, taking my health into my own hands. The last few months I’ve been doing the keto diet, but I feel it’s time for a change. I’ve decided to start following an eczema diet protocol, drinking green juices and smoothies every day and just keeping a super clean diet, in order to finally get over these skin issues.

I’ve also decided to be more present. This is really what needs to happen.

Whatever’s going on in life, presence is paramount. I’ve caught myself a lot recently pining for the future, a future where everything will be magically better and easier. Well there is no such future. Life is f***ing hard, man!

And that’s not to diminish the exquisite beauty of life, either. But the true essence and beauty of life can’t be experienced when we aren’t present to it.

Key habits

I’ve figured out that there are many things that contribute to anxiety. It’s not just a “chemical imbalance in the brain” as I’ve been told ad nauseum. Well, technicalli it is, but it’s not necessarily something you were born with. Rather, our habits and circumstances contribute way more to how we feel mentally and emotionally than we normally admit.

Things like lack of nutrition, lack of exercise, being cut off from nature, or a hectic work routine. But wait, there’s more! Addictions to superstimuli like porn, video games and netflix have incredibly detrimental effects on our ability to feel calm and at peace. Additionally, an irregular sleep schedule and a lacking social life will also throw us out of whack.

It’s not a matter of finding a magic pill that will “solve” your anxiety. You need to solve your life! When you find true health again, your anxiety will melt away.

This is what I’ve felt in my own life, especially in the last few weeks. Although I definitely haven’t been perfect, I have been drinking green juices and smoothies every day, with no processed foods at all, cut out sugar, coffee, alcohol. I also finally managed to cut out porn, this time I’ll make sure it’s out of my life for good. I feel so much better.

The magic of taking responsibility for your anxiety

Here’s what’s lacking in our society today : the call for personal responsibility.

There’s such a nauseating emphasis on victimhood and blaming the one percent and finding out in what myriad ways you’ve been oppressed throughout your life (multiply this effect by 1000 if you happen to be part of a ethnic minority, gay, or female), that calling for people to take responsibility for themselves has started to seem unfair and even kind of nasty.

The truth is, though, so many of the world’s problems could be solved if people in general would stop waiting for somebody to save them. If we all were to take responsibility for our feelings, relationships, and our lives, just think what could be accomplished.

So although I’ve listed a few things that need to be addressed in order to overcome anxiety for good, here is the most important factor of all:

Decide to take full responsibility for the fact that you feel anxiety at all.

If you make this idea a part of your pattern of thinking, I guarantee you’ll feel better. It may even happen faster than you think.

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