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SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.
How can person fight anxiety (without the use of medication) when they feel it coming on? I heard there was a way to change your thinking that might help. Can you explain how I can do that?
First, let me clarify that the term “anxiety” can be used to describe a whole range of experiences, from just feeling overwhelmed to serious medical conditions.
Anxiety can also be caused by a large number of factors — everything from genetic conditions, brain chemistry problems, substance abuse or just trying to do too much too fast. In this article I am addressing the more common, non-medical condition type. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you should talk to a medical professional for advice.
The one commonality these anxiety experiences share is that they all get worse when you experience stress. Stress, by the way, is a fear problem. (I know some of my readers are bothered by the fact that I believe every problem is a fear problem, but I assure you it is. If you can't see that yet, keep looking at it.)
The next time you feel anxiety, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” You are either afraid of looking bad, being rejected and failing, or you are afraid of losing something (reputation, money, opportunities, etc.) Once you clearly define the fear, you can process your way out of it with better thinking.
Learning how to think situations through in an accurate, positive way will make a huge difference, no matter what kind of anxiety you have (though some forms of anxiety will require medical or professional help along with better thinking).
The fastest way to change your thinking is to choose trust in two truths that are the opposite of the two most common fears.
The two most common fears that cause anxiety are:
- The fear of failure: that you might not be good enough.
- The fear of loss: that your life won’t be good enough. You can consciously choose to replace these, in any moment, by choosing to trust in these two truths:
Nothing in life creates more deep-seated anxieties than the false assumption that life should be free from anxieties and problems.
- Your value isn’t on the line, because life is a classroom, not a test. This means your value is infinite and absolute and you cannot be diminished by anything. If there is no test, you cannot fail. You are always good enough, as you are, right now.
- Your journey is always the perfect journey for you. Everything that happens, happens for a reason, to teach you your next perfect lesson. These lesson aren’t always fun, but they always serve you and help you grow.
The power of choices
Remember: The one power you have in every situation is the power to choose your mindset.
We learned this from Victor Frankl, a Viennese psychotherapist who was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. In spite of everything in his life that went wrong, he chose an attitude of trust and love. What many people don’t know about Frankl is that he went on to become the father of logotherapy (a kind of therapy that encourges people to choose how they want to experience each situation). “Logos” is the Greek word that means, “To make meaning out of something.”
Frankl believed that you get to decide what each event in your life means, because events don't mean anything until you apply meaning to them. You get to choose your attitude and how every experience will affect your life — but if you don't make this choice, your subconscious mind will choose for you, and it will usually choose fear.
Frankl believed that you should reframe each experience in whatever way best serves you (still within the framework of reality, of course). If trusting the process of life and seeing it as a safe process with meaning and purpose gives you peace, you should choose that outlook.
I believe choosing to trust that everything happens for a reason serves your process of growth, eliminates fear and makes life better.
This is my formula for eliminating anxious thoughts in the moment:
- Identify what the problem really is. What are you afraid of?
- Is there anything you can do about this, in this moment?
- If there is, do it.
- If there is not, choose to trust that it will be OK. It will be what it is meant to be. There is no sense in suffering over something you have no power to control or change. You might as well trust the universe that whatever happens will serve you somehow.
- Choose to focus on something more positive. I recommend finding someone to give to, love or validate. Love eliminates fear, fast.
You cannot control life and you won't always be able to make it the way you want it, so you might as well just trust it.
You can do this.
*Kimberly Giles gives her advice in the "LIFEadvice" series every Monday on ksl.com. She is the president of Claritypoint Life Coaching and a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing self-esteem. Listen to her Self Esteem CPR Workshop at www.claritypointcoaching.com. **