Since business school, I knew (even if only subconsciously until 2016) that I wanted to start a business and help people in some capacity. Climbing the corporate ladder in retail stores and marketing positions was amazing, but this energy inside me never felt truly fulfilled. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my entrepreneurial energy, but I knew these roles were not the solution.
A lot of people have dealt with, or are currently dealing with anxiety in some form. We are being told that it is something you can live with. What if medication and therapy was just a starting point for you to take control of your mind again? What if the minute you felt anxiety forming a pit in your stomach, you could transform the energy into a positive one, on cue, with the proper thoughts, actions, habits, and behaviors?
Anxiety is not something you have to live with. In my personal experience with anxiety, anxiety is a mental checkpoint, thought categorization, and energy stream we can decode with each different situation. Everyone handles their anxiety differently. With this article, I want to show you what anxiety is as an equation, solutions to removing anxiety with each thought, and how to apply these solutions in real life.
Brief Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist nor a professionally trained doctor. I am someone who had to handle mental health issues on my own, researched a variety of solutions, and now am sharing the practices that have worked for me. Please use your discretion and remember there are millions of ways to manage anxiety and this is one curated perspective.
What Is Anxiety Anyway?
Here are two ways to look at anxiety from Chip Conley, author of ‘Emotional Equations’ and Dr. Steven Melemis, M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and founder of www.iwanttochangemylife.org, a mental health information website for individuals, families, and professionals.
1) Dr. Steven Melemis says, “Anxiety is worry. It is the body’s mental and physical response to imagined threats that may occur.”
2) Chip Conley breaks anxiety down to an equation. He says:
Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness
In both these instances, this energy form we label as anxiety is feeling powerless in a situation that you have no control over. Instead of being in the moment and trusting yourself, the bigger picture, and the source of all existence to guide your next steps, you get anxious about an imagined threat, danger, or inability to take proper action.
If we remain inactive as we encounter situations that make us anxious, we usually need to find a way to cope with the energy. Anxiety builds over time as you want more control over your life, but you continuously take comfort, resulting in easy habits becoming normalized with anxiety because they are low risk and familiar.
Solutions To Remove Anxiety With Each Thought
1. Stop living in the future.
Time is a dimension. According to Google dictionary, a dimension is a measurable extent of some kind. Think about anytime you are scheduling a meeting or going to an event, you always need the time and space. Time gives context and chronological order for better data management in our head, and history as a whole. Without time and space, we might mistake the Boston Tea Party as an event that happened yesterday instead of seeing it as a catalyst for major development in the United States.
Because time is a dimension, we cannot give it all the power. As a form of measure, time is simply a way to categorize our actions. A human’s life is a bunch of work that gets done for the desired result. Time gives “work” context as past, present, or future. We may be able to make predictions for the future based on past and present moments; it doesn’t mean a dangerous situation in the past will always result in a dangerous situation in the future.
In a negative anxious state, our instant gratification brain is at work filling the mind with what-ifs, fearful thoughts, negativity, and possible scenarios. With full awareness that we create our own reality, we know that the things the mind says are just options and we have the ability to choose. Depending on the current view of reality, you can work with anxiety to chart a course or let it take you into a state of endless unfavorable probabilities.
2. Do The Work
Humans exist to work. Work is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. Whether we are breathing, overthinking, meditating, drinking until we’re numb, or writing a book, we are working.
Referencing Conley’s anxiety equation, Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness, we can do work to move through the stagnant anxious energy. The best sustainable feeling, better than numbness or avoidance of problems is peace of mind. We must do the work to get accustomed to what anxiety feels like in our body so we can transfer it into positive energy before it temporarily immobilizes us. Through identifying the feeling, we can separate from it, gain the ability to act calmly, and gain power. With power, even if you remain uncertain of the outcome, you develop trust within yourself to handle any situation that comes your way and find a solution.
Chip says, “When anxiety strikes, create a balance sheet of what you know and what is within your influence.” This balance sheet will reveal how much certainty and influence you actually have over the situation.
How to make the anxiety balance sheet:
- Column one is “What I Know”
- Column two is “What I Don’t Know”
- Column three is “What I Can Influence”
- Column four is “What I Can’t Control”
After completing this balance sheet for things that you feel anxious about, you will increase the certain aspect of the equation and your degree of influence in the coming situation. You can download a version of this balance sheet to print here.
3. Have faith in something bigger.
Imagined threats in the future that create anxiety usually stem from our inability to recall in the heat of the moment, or lack of faith in the bigger picture the Universe has laid out for us. I like to live by the ideology that our purpose is coded in our DNA and this purpose is also trying to find us. With every obstacle, I have always gained insight, clarity, or something physical that puts me back in the right direction of my path. Think about the moment after your obstacles are conquered, you become stronger every time, right? When we are feeling anxious without the proper framework, we start going into flight or fight mode to release adrenaline. Whether the anxiety is about a real-life situation or a thought that resides in our imagination, our body knows no different. Our body behaves as if we are really under attack. The goal is to approach anxiety with compassion as it is a proponent for change and preparation.
Known causes of anxiety according to Dr. Steven Melemis are:
- Work stress
- Isolation, not having a support network
- Harassment, bullying
- Financial stress
- Family and relationship problems
- Illness, declining health
- Trauma, abuse
- Death, loss of a loved one
All these causes of anxiety are real and can be worked through for a better understanding of your journey. Another exercise you can do is give yourself space to write and feel all the worry that is associated with your anxiety. As the founder of Internal Wheel, a one-stop-shop for spiritual wellness, I overcame (and will continually overcome) several forms of resistance, mental health issues, and anxiety with the power of writing.
Writing makes you slow down.
Writing helps you assess your current situation.
Writing helps you remove the emotional charge from the situation and allow the flow of bigger goals to override current low-frequency reaction-based thoughts that spiral out.
How To Apply These Solutions To Real Life
- Identify what your anxiety feels like and become less afraid of being in that state. Once you do this the moment anxiety arises, you can start to work on controlling it.
- Plan for the future, but don’t live in the future thinking about how much things can go wrong. When you feel pessimistic thoughts forming about a new venture you are taking on or a mistake you made, try and think to yourself ‘what if everything goes right?’
- Create your anxiety balance sheet exercise or print this one and keep it near your commonly used spaces. Work through your feelings, don’t avoid them. If your intuition is giving you the answer, work towards implementing it. Your intuition is always right.
- Have faith in something bigger. All these moments are important, but they all lead to something bigger. Remembering everything is connected and has a lesson wrapped inside of it will help you stay focused, calm, and powerful.
Cheers to course-correcting your thought processes and habits so you don’t approach each new situation with an anxious framework. If you want help solving everyday problems and decoding the emotions that came with it, I am taking on new clients for thought remodeling and action plans. Sometimes we need someone to listen, help us think logically, and help us break down the emotions we felt and still feel.
Visit www.internalwheel.com and book your call today if this resonates with you.
- Emotional Equations by Chip Conley
- How To Work Through Difficult Moments by Jasmine N. Torok
- Anxiety: Symptoms, Disorder, Definitions, Causes, Treatment by Dr. Steven Melemis