‘If you are going through hell, keep going’
Do you feel lost and hopeless?
Do your thoughts control your life?
Do you feel uptight and anxious for no real reason?
Do you get consumed in a spiral of negative thinking?
Do you avoid certain situations because you’re scared of having a panic attack?
Do you feel that there is nothing you can do to feel better and that you’ve given up any hope in trying?
When you feel like this you believe you’d do anything to make it go away and never come back.
But are you actually doing what it takes?
Or are you just looking for the answer, hoping that one day you’ll find it and it will somehow all be ok?
I expect many of you have spent your fair share of time trawling the internet looking for help and the answer to stop your anxiety and panic attacks.
In most cases people never find what they are looking for.
Why is this?
You can find endless websites which are supposed to help, but in fact just seem to make things worse, sites which provide detailed information on why you worry, feel anxious and panic.
They delve into great detail about every type of disorder out there and try and label you as this or that, explaining all the ins and outs of every problem and the biological and chemical mechanisms behind them.
Even worse are the sites which try and provide you with a peaceful and relaxed environment, where tranquility and harmony exist as one and all that complete nonsense.
Then there are the forums, full of people pouring their hearts out with their problems and issues, just hoping against hope that someone will reply with the answer they were looking for.
When you first start to look into your anxiety, seeing that so many other people are going through the same thing can fill you with a sense of relief that you are not alone.
But once you have got that first release from knowing this, you will never get it again.
By continuing to frequent these places you’ll just make things worse. You’ll get dragged down further and further and will be left feeling even more helpless than before.
Have you ever wondered why the same people are always on these forums?
It’s because they don’t get any better!
If they did, they would be off living their lives, not still awake at 2am trying to type as they have a panic attack.
Then there are the doctors with their prescriptions and pills. I understand that many people find drugs help them feel better. I understand those who say ‘without them I could just not have coped any more’.
However, they are not the answer, especially not in the long term.
All they do is mask the feelings, but these soon return once your body starts becoming tolerant to them or you stop taking them.
How can a pill change your thoughts?
All they can do is suppress them by reducing the functioning of your brain for a period of time.
Drugs are a coping technique, they do not address the real issue of changing the way you think.
Think about it, the pharmceutical companies make billions of dollars from pushing their drugs. Why would they want you to feel better when they’d rather you just swallow their pills, get an instant temporary relief and have to keep coming back for more.
It’s much easier and quicker for a doctor to write you out a quick prescription than to take the time to help you address the real problems. Some doctors don’t even care and just tell you it’s just a phase you’re going through, that you’ll eventually grow out of it.
Finally there’s the breathing exercises, the relaxing techniques and the calming methods. Sure they have their place and can at times mildly relieve how you are feeling, but they do not stop the problem.
Surely what people want is to not feel this way in the first place?
I know I did.
The problem is these coping techniques are actually doing you more harm than good.
They take away that fire inside you, because they make you feel that, if you act a certain way or do a certain thing, you’ll be ok. This means you are changing your life to accommodate your anxiety and panic, not to beat it.
Part of the problem is the impatience of our modern society, where everyone wants instant results.
People say they would do anything to feel better again, but then they’re not willing to put the time and effort in required to do what is really necessary. They want a quick fix with minimum effort on their behalf.
What you require to feel better is actually very simple, the issues lie in the knowledge, the understanding, and the time and effort it takes.
This is especially hard for someone who is likely to already be at the end of their tether.
A change in thinking
My biggest breakthroughs came when I did the following:
- Made an unbreakable commitment deep within myself that I would not continue my life this way.
- Accepted that I, and no-one else, had done this to myself. I had learned these thoughts and behaviours.
- Understood that what caused this (the outside trigger(s)) did not matter, I needed to stop thinking about the past and only put my effort in to moving forward and feeling better.
- Had complete self-belief that I and only I could change my thoughts, conquer my fears and return to the person I knew before.
- Harnessed a drive and determination that I would never falter, never stop, no matter what I faced
These five principles are what have helped me get to where I am now, and will continue to help me on my journey.
They leave me no space for excuses.
Number two is probably the hardest one for you to do. It isn’t to blame yourself, but to be ok with the fact you are where you are because of your mind, your thoughts and your feelings.
It’s your thoughts which are making you interpret your life, the world and the people in it the way you do.
Being able to accept full responsibility will make it feel like a great weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You’ll feel a sense of release and you’ll be ready to change your thinking for the better.
It’s all about choice
Realise that you have the choice to make the right decisions and feel better, or the choice, to not.
You can continue on the road to nowhere by avoiding anything which may put you out of your comfort zone.
Or…….you can take the steep and winding path to the place you want to be. Even if that means you have failures along the way.
I’ve chosen the latter and I will continue to choose it.
You can do it too, but you must understand and accept that at times you will still feel anxious, but that you will not allow this to stop you doing what you want to do.
I used to feel panic doing all sorts of things, now when I do them those thoughts do not even cross my mind.
Because I didn’t give in.
I kept doing them despite the way I felt because I knew it was the only way to get better.
You can change your thinking by doing it anyway and showing your subconscious you have nothing to fear.
By doing it over and over again you retrain your mind by altering your thought processes and rewiring your neural pathways. This enables you to feel calm and relaxed in those situations.
You do not need to take it all on at once, start with those which involve the least fear, occur most often or are most debilitating. Let your successes slowly build your confidence to push on further.
This worked wonders for me with so many of my fears. I still have some to face, it’s a long process, but I’m determined to keep with it.
The improvement you’ll see can be dramatic, but it will take time and it will take effort. You just have to be ok with that.
So is it worth it?
That question doesn’t even justify a response.
The real question is, can you do it?
The answer is, yes. Yes, you can. You just have to set your mind to it.
Don’t expect instant results, accept set backs when they happen (and they will at times), but do not let them deter you.
Every journey starts with a single step, just make sure it is in the right direction. It’s simply a choice you have to make and then a commitment not to turn back.
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