Use these 3 Steps To Take You From Anxiety To Joy
1. Quiet Your Mind’s Chatter So You Can Hear Your Own Wisdom.
It’s easy to look outside yourself for answers. When we’re sick we go to the doctor. When we’re troubled we seek a person or experience that will snap us out of our funky mood. We look to experts to teach us, enlighten us, and lift us. There’s nothing wrong with this until or unless we ignore our own inner wisdom. Some people don’t even know it’s there. But we all have it.
Call it wisdom, intuition, a deep knowing, instinct. Learning to quiet the mind’s chatter so you can hear your own wisdom is a first step that may take you from anxiety to joy.
I use the word “may” here deliberately. It may take you from anxiety to joy. This has been my experience, but it may not be yours. Ferret out your own answers.
Chances are good that slowing down and quieting your mind will help with this process. It’s difficult to hear your wisdom while running around your life like a squawking, headless chicken. Stop moving. Sit in silence. Or do the opposite. Go for a walk. Figure out what quiets your own mind. Yoga and dance help me. Especially creative, conscious movement, where I pay attention to my body as it moves through space. Even sitting in a chair or restless in bed, if I bring my attention to my body, my mind quiets.
Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, says if you’ve having trouble sleeping, bring your attention to you hands. See if you can feel the energy in them. You might notice a slight tingling sensation. Explore that energy, your life force. This focuses the mind, which makes it harder to wander. A wandering mind may not be so uncomfortable, but sometimes, unbeknownst to us, our minds race. They let loose like cannon fire, exploding everything in our paths and we are left wondering why we feel depressed or anxious.
Our feelings come from our thoughts. If we’re anxious, it’s not because of our circumstances—however that may appear to be the case—it’s because of our thinking about our situation. So, again, quiet your mind. Experiment with proven strategies, such as mediation, exercise, or focused attention doing something you love. My mother called knitting and baking therapy. That was her meditation. Being fully present in any task is a form of meditation—and medication—and will likely deliver you from anxiety to joy.
2. Don’t Take Your Thoughts So Seriously.
We are like fish in water with our thinking. Fish aren’t aware of the water they swim in. We “swim” in our thoughts without realizing we’re thinking.
Most of our thinking slips by us unnoticed. Often we believe our thinking and take it as fact, rather than thought.
But if a thought is negative or destructive, it behooves us to recognize it for what it is: a thought. Negative thoughts are normal. We all have them, but we don’t need to cling to them. There’s an American proverb that goes like this: “Let go or be dragged.” This is relevant when considering our thinking.
Ask yourself, “Is this a helpful thought? Does it uplift me? Will it help me create more of what I want in my life? Does it come from a place of love? Or does it stem from insecurity or fear?
Will it—if I take it seriously, thereby endowing it with power—bring me something I want? If the answer to this last question is no, then don’t invest your belief dollars in that thought. Contrary to how it may seem you are not your thoughts. You have thoughts, but it’s not who you are. You are an essential, wise, eternal, worthy, loved, knowing soul. It’s helpful to remember this when you’re anxious. Once when I was about to take a trip, I told my husband I was feeling anxious and scared, but that deep down a part of me knew I was fine and it was all going to be okay. “Well, hang out with that part of yourself,” he told me. So I did. And my anxiety dissolved into joy.
3. Be A Good Traveler. Life is nothing if not a journey.
How do you want to go through it? Do you want to bitch and moan the whole way, drive yourself (and others) crazy with complaints? Or perhaps you envision a more graceful passage? My grandmother, a world traveler, used to say, “If you want all the comforts of home, stay there. Sometimes this makes sense, except when the “comforts” of home are illusory.
We feel safe and protected in a bubble. But any bubble can burst, and what if we carry our bubble with us wherever we go? What if we are protected no matter what? What if we’re way larger that we imagine? What if we have the capacity to let go of our worried, fearful thinking? What if we can slough off our judgments, stop fighting proverbial windmills, and settle in with whatever aches and pains come our way? What might life look like if we were to accept the things we can’t control, accept life on its own terms. Trust more. Fight less. Go with the flow. Be an amoeba. Surrender our metaphorical spines. Shape-shift.
You’re not as solid as you think. And neither are your thoughts. We are constantly changing, traveling. Loosen up. Love the changes. Let go. Shake yourself. Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about—that’s what life’s all about. —The dance, the turning this way and that, the early bird catching its worm, the small, quiet voice within. An unexpected view that takes your breath away. The kind gesture delivered by a stranger. Infinite, everyday beauties.
What if we’re making up our anxiety with an overactive imagination? What if your anxiety is no more real than a monster on the bedroom wall of a child who has just awoken from a bad dream? A story each of us creates in our own minds. A compelling illusion that seems real.
What if anxiety is nothing more than a story based on insecurity and fear?
It’s time to lay that narrative down, find a way to weave a different yarn. We don’t need to create more joy, but rather, move beyond the thinking that keeps us from it. Joy is our natural state. The only thing that keeps us from it is our own thinking.