I have anxiety. I am a person with anxiety.
However you want to word it, there it is. The reality is that I’ve had to learn to cope with anxiety. It’s a process that has taken years.
I used to think that I could make my anxiety go away just by forcing it aside.
First, I would get annoyed. I would muster up all the willpower I could and try to push the anxiety aside. I would thrash about and try to distract myself from the anxiety. I would try to think my way through anxiety, but something that stems from needless thoughts is not going to be resolved through needless thoughts.
I had to learn a different way.
What I learned, through much trial and error, is that anxiety responds best when I learned how to calmly respond to it. I had to learn to accept it, which, if I’m being honest, was the hardest part of the equation. It was only through acceptance that I found a way forward.
Acceptance allowed me to see that I was going to need to change some things if I wanted to manage my anxiety.
So I changed my environment. I found the locations that made me feel peaceful, and I spent more time in them. And I educated myself. I read books that helped me understand that anxiety is not a personal flaw; it’s an issue with the brain. Just knowing that it’s not me, but my brain, made such a big difference. It helped me be less judgmental toward myself. It created some space between the bad, anxious feelings–and who I was as a person.
I learned that I couldn’t force my anxiety away. I had to do the hard things, the things that would help me be stronger and resilient over the long-term.
Over time, lots of practice doing the hard things built the self-awareness I needed to know what would make me feel better.