I think we can all agree that from time to time we all end up feeling anxiety and depression about one thing or another.
But for some, the feeling of being buried or drowning beneath the constant invasive, painful and stressful thoughts can seem never ending.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m going to share a simple but powerful insight for how to calm anxiety from the inside out
Let’s get started.
Don't Want To Read? Listen Instead (14:17mins)
Blog post after the jump.
"...how does this apply to someone who hasn't just had a few things not go so right and is on the bandwagon of positivity.
How does this apply to real people suffering from real trauma? "
So I got an email from a lovely lady last week.
She’d just read this post (how to control your emotions) on the blog and then sent in the above question.
There are two things that came up for me as I read that heartfelt question.
The first thing is that when it comes to the inside-out understanding…
…Most of us at the start of the journey of living from the inside-out tend to see it as a strategy or something that we can use to “fix” ourselves.
But rather than look at it as yet another thing to plug into your life…
…see it as part of the bigger picture.
Like the law of gravity or the the colour of the sky.
It never changes and it is always in play.
Whether you accept it or not and whether you’re aware of it or not…
…It is happening in the background.
Your job is to understand your part in the process rather than trying to use it as yet another strategy to plug a hole in parts of your life.
It is something that defines our whole experience of life.
The second thing that came to me was the term:
It’s a term used in Alcoholics Anonymous to refer to the perspective that some have that their particular experience, obstacles, or struggles are unique.
That they are unlike anything anyone else deals with.
And I think it’s something we all do in one form or another.
When you truly let yourself dive fully the inside-out understanding of the human experience…
…It’s easy to see how things could look that way.
Because we see the nuances of our own drama, while we see the generalised picture our mind creates of others’ drama.
And we feel our own experience brought to life within us in vivid technicolour detail, while we only make a grey colour guess at what things feel like for others.
And when it comes to terminal uniqueness:
We have a way of digging in our heels when our problem looks special to us. We own it, fondle it more, identify with it, call it “ours”.
It looks exclusive and special to us, so it makes perfect sense that we think others don’t understand our level of trauma and suffering.
Or that their suffering can never match up to ours.
And it also makes sense that the solution to our special and unique problem MUST require something different from what others are using for their drama.
But here’s the thing about terminal uniqueness:
It’s all an illusion.
It can change if you just give yourself the chance of revisiting what you think you already know.
And that’s what we’re going to do here with anxiety and depression if you give yourself the space to see something new.
So, let’s start by asking:
What is anxiety and what causes anxiety?
So what is the cognitive model?
The cognitive model is a tool that helps us better understand how the brain works (or how it can work against us).
In simple terms it looks like this:
Event -> Interpretation -> Emotion -> Action.
So here’s how it works:
You witness and event.
And then you have a thought about that event.
The thought creates the emotion you feel
And the emotion leads to the actions you take.
So in short, every emotion we feel and every action we take comes from our interpretation of the event …
…and not necessarily directly from the event.
It’s what our brain interprets about it, that’s what creates our reality of it.
But here’s where the problem arises:
Our brain, as smart as it is, can only make educated guesses about what is, and isn’t true about anything.
Your actions in response to those educated guesses is what teaches your brain about your world.
And at each moment, your brain is collecting information to ‘help’ you in future.
So can see how your brain innocently helps you build up your anxiety and depression based on your initial and repeated responses?
The more you respond in a certain way, the more your brain takes that as the gospel truth when it comes to those events.
This is how the machinery of us as human beings looks.
It is how every single one of us operates.
And what this means for you and anxiety and depression is that:
You are not as broken as you think.
You’ve just been innocently looking in a different direction for the change you seek.
Your brain and your body are doing what they’re supposed to do.
Along the way, things have looked a certain way to you, and you’ve been responding to them accordingly.
So knowing what we now know, what is the path for how to calm anxiety?
Well, this is where most will advise you to dive into your mind and try to retrain your brain.
But the truth as I see it, is that you don’t have to do all of that.
When you allow yourself to see beyond the “machinery” of how we operate to the essence of WHO you are…
…The change becomes more natural and less painful.
The things that happen with our “machinery / brain” are temporary and always in flux.
They can change.
But our core essence…the part beyond the machinery is unchangeable.
And if you allow yourself to get a glimpse of the core part of your nature rather than tinker with the machine…
…That’s when deep and lasting change from anxiety begins.
And true freedom and peace of mind comes with it.
You aren’t just the “machinery.”
The machinery isn’t all there is.
There is something beyond that…
…Something that powers the machinery.
And this is where the problem arises for a majority of us trying to find a way for how to calm anxiety or how to overcome anxiety and depression.
We assume that the machinery is all there is.
But what if there is something more beyond the "machinery" of our brain and our minds?
The way I see it…
…As human beings our true nature that resides underneath the noise of the machinery is like:
The sky that is always blue no matter the weather condition that makes it seem otherwise.
And just as there is no solution to make the sky blue (it is always blue – no matter what)…
…There is no solution to our core nature of innate calm, peace and wellbeing.
It is who we are. We are born with it and it never changes.
Even though at some moments, that core nature seems like it doesn’t exist and you can’t see it
Your true nature is that calm part of you that you feel in the first few minutes when you wake up from sleep BEFORE you remember that you need to think and feel a certain way…
…and your mind runs away from you.
It crucial for you to ALLOW yourself to see that part of yourself
Because when you do, you’ll see that you are not broken as you think and there is nothing that needs to be fixed.
You’ve just been innocently looking in a different direction.
But there’s a different way of seeing yourself and WHO you really are.
Events that occurred to you in the past cannot be denied or erased.
And of course, you will have scary thoughts about the future.
But what I’m saying right now is:
Given how “our machinery” works…
And given the fact that at your core, innate calm and peace are your true nature…
…As it with babies and children…
The thoughts that you’re having moment by moment about the past are just thoughts.
And the anxious thoughts about the future are just that… thoughts
That never changes because that’ how the machinery and system work.
And as we have a lot of thinking around these thoughts,
…They bring up all kinds of feelings – some of which make us uncomfortable.
But the trauma or event isn’t happening again at this moment is it?
It’s just your thought of it at this moment causing the feelings.
Your machinery is simply doing its thing.
This is a second place where a lot of us get stuck.
We don’t like the uncomfortable feelings.
And we take them seriously and tell ourselves that we must do something about them so that we can ‘fix’ them and ourselves and get back to normal.
So we actively look for “solutions” to those feelings.
But there’s no solution to a feeling.
It’s just a feeling that like the rain (no matter how stormy) will dissolve.
The feeling only stays longer because we are the ones actively saying that it is a problem and that it needs to have a solution.
So we hold on it, fondle it, identify with it, put it under a microscope, examine it and shake it about.
And as we do, we get lost in the storm of the machinery of WHO we are.
But at any moment, if you only just hold on to this one truth that no matter how uncomfortable it is, no feeling needs a solution…
…and if you try not to ”solve” or “fix” anything passing through your mind, I know that you will see something different.
If you can allow yourself to slow down and notice each thought without allowing yourself to respond to them…
…But tolerating the often uncomfortable emotion and feelings that go along with it,
You allow your brain or machinery the possibility of learning new information and developing more accurate theories about your world.
New information that can and will come from space deeper within – where your core nature and essence reside.
So as we come to the end of this, here’s an experiment you could try to see what changes for you:
For the next 24-48 hours…
Don’t try to fix or correct any thoughts or feelings that you experience.
And don’t try to label them as “good” or “bad”
Don’t try to say what you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel.
Just notice it like you would the weather.
See what brings the rain and notice when the sky turns blue again.
There’s no right or wrong here…
…Just observations and your own personal insights into what you see about WHO you are and what is true for us all as human beings.
The more you can see this, the more you begin to navigate life with grace and ease.
You don’t have to know how to cope with anxiety, you only need to better understand how you machinery works…
…And what resides beyond it.
So here’s to navigating the rain and enjoying the blue skies moment by moment.
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