Updated: Nov 30, 2020
There so much has been written about anxiety that it is even a surprise that people still experience this debilitating mental illness. Moreover, whether exhibited as occasional worries or as a full-blown generalized anxiety disorder, it is on the rise now due to the unprecedented times we are all living in. Yes, COVID-19, social, political, and economic challenges are not making it easier for us, especially those prone to experiencing anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety in the realm of Personal Development
In Personal Development (or at least I am going to speak for my clients), anxiety is the main barrier that either precludes people from achieving their goals or significantly delays desired outcomes. Most pioneers in the field of PD refer to it simply as fear. Just think about all those motivational posts or videos you see on social media, where the main topic of all of them is how to overcome fear. Actually, back in the day, before anxiety got its official name, this mental condition was referred to as “fear disorder.” My professor at GWU taught me to ask my clients who claimed they had anxiety this question: What is that that you are afraid of? By asking this straightforward question, I let my clients realize that anxiety is not something outside of them, something that is attacking their life uncontrollably (that’s what media these days is trying to convince us), but rather something that is arising within them and, therefore, can also be managed by them. In reality, anxiety is what we generate in our minds by overthinking, pondering, creating the worst-case scenario, etc. It is crucial to recognize that anxiety is something that you create on your own, but not so you can start condemning or blaming yourself (please, don’t do it, just love yourself, even with anxiety), but for you to take control of the triggers. You acknowledge this because in understanding how you are producing anxiety, you can now learn how to reverse or prevent it. You can begin living your life fearlessly, experiencing true freedom and clarity by thinking healthy thoughts.
Do you recognize your anxiety?
Before we move on to the solution, it is important to highlight that many people do not recognize their symptoms of anxiety, and I was one of them. I remember I used to engage in all kinds of actions that would distract me from facing my fears, mostly drinking and initiating baseless arguments with my loved one. And although I caused some unnecessary drama, I am grateful I had that experience because I can now relate to my clients who have the same issue and help them recognize it too.
Unrecognized anxiety may present itself in many different ways, and not always as bad behavior. It may sneak up on you quietly, disguised as some innocent act of overworking until the feeling of exhaustion subdues the fears within you. One of my clients, for example, recently disclosed to me that his time management skills were off, and he wanted to spend some time learning how to take control of the hours in his day more efficiently. Johnny (not the real name) owns a chain of body shops and, surprisingly to him, often spends his time fixing the cars in the garage. The thing is that this client has enough staff to perform the manual labor while his role is to grow the business, build relationships with clients and vendors, expand the range his services, improve the overall productivity of the workplace, etc. In our collaborative effort, Johnny discovered that getting away from the office tasks and plunging headlong into manual work, where he had to work with his hands, was a way for him to escape constant worries about his rapidly growing business. Johnny literally found himself hiding from his anxiety under the hood of the car. As you can see, his issue wasn't caused by his poor time-management skills, but rather it was a result of his unrecognized anxiety. Now that we know what we are dealing with, it is a lot easier for Johnny to schedule his activities and get the most out of his day.
People can mask their anxiety in many different ways: through substance abuse, reckless behavior, including sexual behavior, such as BDSM, infidelities, unsafe sex, etc., avoidance, abuse (verbal, emotional, and/or physical), overworking, even what we perceive as extraversion can sometimes be a way for an individual to escape fears by constantly communicating and engaging with others. Please seek professional help if you suspect you may have been hiding or avoiding your symptoms of anxiety. If not addressed on time, this may lead to serious consequences.
There is a way out! Spiritual approach
I've tried most of the conventional methods of dealing with my anxiety,, and they yielded little to no improvement. No wonder the number of people exper