Posted on Mar 27th, 2006

Anxiety is a response which is innate in every healthy human being. We will all step back from the edge of a precipice, or jump when we hear a loud bang. Some of us however are more prone to anxiety than others, and controlling or curing anxiety relies upon understanding what anxious people do differently. Eastern philosophies have long known the importance of how one views one’s environment. There is the age old tail of two travellers approaching a mountain range. The first traveller, looking forward to reaching his destination and relishing the new sites and sounds, sees the peeks reaching to the sky and views them as nature’s gems, a site to behold. The second traveller, homesick, weary and loathe to reach his destination, views the very same peaks, from the very same angle, but thinks of them as the teeth of the entrance to hell.

The moral of this slightly melodramatic tale is that our environment is what we perceive it to be. We think something is dangerous only because, either consciously or unconsciously, we tell ourselves that it is. The process goes something like this:

Events —-> Our interpretation —-> Negative self talk —-> Negative emotions and reactions

Why we tell our selves that a certain situation is dangerous is another matter, we have learned to do that in the past and the cause is not necessarily important now. The important thing is that we stop this negative self talk.

At this point it becomes necessary to accept that both the cause and solution to your anxiety issues lie inside you. It’s easier to blame it on brain chemistry imbalance, genetic weakness, and all sorts of other matters outside your control, but the simple truth is that by accepting responsibility today you can set in motion a very profound healing process.

Negative self talk doesn’t just effect people with anxiety and panic attacks, it also effects those people who are constantly worried, too stressed, can’t relax, or get depressed.

Negative self talk often starts with “what if…” type questions or self limiting statements like “I can’t do that”, or “I can’t cope”.

The traditional way of counteracting these negative thoughts is through cognitive therapy. You capture the thought and argue it out, either in your mind or on paper. For example:

“What if the elevator gets stuck?”
“I won’t be able to cope, I’ll go mad and may die, I’ll faint, people will think I have a problem.”

“Is that true? Let’s examine the evidence.”
“You have always coped in the past and will again in the future, panic can’t make you mad as nasty as it feels and neither can it kill you. Neither does it often make you faint as your blood pressure goes a bit higher, not lower. Lots of people fear getting stuck in a lift, no body would think you were weird. But here’s the big news: the lift is the safest form of transport, the chances of it getting stuck are thousands to one.”

This kind of reaction can often lessen the impact of the negative self talk and open up new choices. It is a great first line of defence, but other methods exist which will banish the negative self talk, instead of merely keeping it at bay. The problem with cognitive therapy is that it sticks to conscious, surface thoughts. I would recommend doing cognitive therapy but supplementing it with something like the Sedona Method, which gets deeper into the issue and bridges the gap between psychoanalysis and cognitive therapy.

http://www.anxiety2calm.comAnxiety 2 Calm looks at various techniques to overcome anxiety, panic attacks, phobia and stagnation. It includes sections on the Sedona Method, EMDR, and much more. All information is free and there is also a blog and a forum and many more interactive features. Feedback on experiences with medication and those expensive programmes and CD courses that are always advertised is useful to help others who are in a similar predicament to yourself or your loved one.

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