Anxiety Explained. Is It Really A Gift?
You may not believe this right now, but your anxiety is actually a gift. It’s letting you know whenever there is something out of alignment in your internal reality.
Speaker: Thais Gibson
See we are living in uncertain times and it’s a common and natural, emotional response to feel anxiety in response to uncertainty. But anxiety is still a solvable problem. And in order to solve any problem, we first must be able to isolate exactly what that problem is for us in our internal space.
See, if you don’t have any context for what anxiety is and what your root causes are, you’re going to feel very helpless to it. But there is always a cause. It’s just often occurring at the subconscious level. So sometimes we’re not aware of it. And what your anxiety is trying to do this entire time is poke at you and prod you awake. So you can start looking beneath the surface at what those root causes are.
Imagine that you’re a child and you have this huge fear of a monster under your bed. So every day you come into your room and you go running to your bed and jump over it. So the monster can’t grab your legs and then maybe one day you work up the courage to just look under your bed and you see, “Oh my goodness, there’s nothing there. All these things I’ve been afraid of and avoiding this entire time and trying to repress and stay away from when I actually looked, there was nothing to be afraid of.” This is exactly how anxiety works. Anxiety is actually a symptom of a buildup of unresolved problems bubbling beneath the surface in your subconscious mind, your brain is designed to complete life experiences and it’s trying to bring these unresolved problems to the surface through the emotion of anxiety. It sees a lack of resolution of problems as an impediment to survival.
Imagine that thousands of years ago, you’re trying to make your way through life and survive. You can’t afford to have unresolved problems and our brain structures haven’t changed that much over the course of thousands of years. Our brain is still trying to do the same thing. It’s trying to get us to take a really clear look at anything that’s holding us back in our lives and create proper strategies and solutions to work through them. I want you to imagine you’re going throughout your day right now and maybe you’re late to work and you start fearing that your boss is going to be angry at you, or your colleagues are going to judge you. And then you get to work and you get busy and you kind of forget about those fears, but they get repressed into the subconscious. And then you go about the next thing during your Workday.
Maybe you turn in something incorrectly or you make a mistake and you have this new fear that arises. See, we can go through the course of our day and have all of these fears that are coming to the surface, all of these perceptions and stories, and if we don’t work through them and create resolution for them or think them all the way through, they just get stored in the subconscious and they become that monster under your bed. And that monster will get louder and louder until you go in there and you take a look and create resolution. So think of our anxiety as being the emotional residue of built-up unresolved problems that are accumulating throughout the course of your day. And that anxiety is a monster trying to yell at you, trying to bring those problems to the surface so you can solve them and survive.
So there are always two things going on. There’s pain and then there’s suffering. Our pain is our unmet needs and our suffering is the story we tell around the unmet needs. It’s what we make the unmet needs mean. So to resolve anxiety, we have to change our thinking and we have to meet our needs.
I want you to imagine you wake up and you watch the news and you think everything is out of control. I have no control in my life. This chaos is never-ending. See, these thoughts in passing are the story of your life. The story you tell around your unmet needs and when you have these passing thoughts throughout the course of your day, your subconscious mind buys into these passing thoughts and it sees them as an absolute truth in that moment and it creates an emotional response accordingly. Think of it for a moment.
Changing Thinking and Meeting Needs
What feelings do you feel when you think thoughts about your life being out of control and chaos being all around you? In that single moment, you’re living in a reality where you truly have no control over your life and more chaos truly is never-ending.
Your subconscious mind believes all the thoughts you think as if they are completely real and valid. And how does your anxiety build up throughout the course of your day, if you have 50, 60, 70, hundreds or thousands of thoughts throughout the course of your day like this? See we have to deal with a couple of things. We have to change our thinking and we have to meet our needs.
If you’re changing your thinking, you might say something like, “Yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but I trust that I can grow and adapt. In fact, I always have.” And when you want to meet your needs around this, you would go, “Okay, I feel like I don’t have a need met for control. How can I create control in my life? Maybe I can make a schedule for myself, set intentions for my day, or I can observe and reframe my thinking to gain more control over my emotional state.”
Do you see we just keep changing our thinking and we keep meeting our needs? These painful ways of perceiving your reality, focusing on the problem instead of finding a solution. This is what’s out of alignment and anxiety is that monster. It keeps speaking to you, trying to prompt you to change your thinking and to meet your needs. It’s trying to communicate to you the entire time. Anxiety is this gift. It’s asking you to pivot in your internal reality, asking you to adapt so that you can get your needs met and release the story you’re telling yourself by changing your thinking. So what happens next? Maybe you think of your work and the things you’re behind on and you give that painful meaning.
You tell a painful story there. Maybe you say to yourself, “My boss is going to think I’m not good enough. What if I lose my job? What if I’m not performing? What if I’m out on the streets and can’t pay my bills?” Well, here’s the next part. Your subconscious mind communicates and speaks in images. It sees you in that moment not performing and imagines your boss firing you, thinking you’re not good enough and you see yourself out on the street. It doesn’t hear the “What if.” And so what happens? Your emotions respond accordingly, yet again. That anxiety comes back in as feedback to communicate to you. Look at this painful movie, the story you’re telling in your mind. Look at the pain it’s creating. Change your thinking. Meet your needs. We need to question these narratives playing in our mind.
Can you know this is even completely valid and true? Or are you putting yourself through this movie in your mind and emoting accordingly all day? We need to change our thinking and meet our needs. So changing your thinking. How am I actually performing? You know, what are my strengths? Are there things that I’m doing well? Can you focus on some of these things instead of just hyper-focusing on the negative and meet your needs? If you feel like you are falling behind, what conversations do you need to have? How can you grow or improve?
See, your subconscious mind is designed to focus on these worst-case scenarios to prepare for them like it’s doomsday and try to keep you safe. But this doesn’t help your anxiety. This creates more anxiety because anxiety is that feedback asking you to change your thinking and meet your needs. So we must consciously choose to focus our energy on finding these solutions by doing these things instead of just feeding the problem on autopilot. And if you can do these two things consistently, you will change your anxiety and your relationship to it once and for all. So this entire time your anxiety has actually been on your side trying to help you change your thinking and meet your needs.