What is anxiety? How can I treat anxiety?
Have you ever been so afraid you couldn’t move? Extreme fear makes us freeze, but what happens when that fear never goes away? For people who are anxious, scared or fearful, everyday tasks can seem insurmountable.
But anxiety is just another way we make meaning of the world around us; what makes one person anxious might spur another to new heights. For example, Tony Robbins worked with Carly Simon and Bruce Springsteen. Both felt the same kinds of physical sensations when they became anxious. For Carly anxiety was crippling, but for Bruce, it made him feel more alive.
Here we’ll cover some techniques that can help you better understand how to get rid of anxiety as well as unpack its underlying cause. Remember, everyone deals with fear. It’s how you train yourself to handle it that makes the difference.
What causes anxiety?
Broadly speaking, anxiety is a person’s excessive, persistent fear or worry in nonthreatening situations. Anxiety can come from specific triggers, like needing to take an airplane or speak in public, or manifest in generalized fear and worry about everything going on. The causes of anxiety aren’t always clear, but you can learn more about how it manifests itself, or the symptoms of anxiety, here.
How to treat anxiety? Use your fear before it uses you
One of the best ways to handle anxiety is to understand how to leverage fear. It’s not that successful people are never afraid; it’s that they are more afraid of not living a full, rich life. Instead of being crippled by fear and anxiety, they use that fear to push them farther. Here are some tips from Tony to help you get there:
Use the rocking chair test
Stymied by a tough decision? Not sure if what seems impossible is worth the risk? Take a moment and imagine yourself at 85 years old. You’re in your rocking chair, reflecting on how you’ve lived. Imagine your life if you did whatever it is that makes you anxious or fearful; maybe it’s changing careers, learning to fly a helicopter, or taking a trip somewhere new. How do you feel? What’s your life been like as a result?
Now, look back at your life without achieving the thing makes you anxious or fearful. This is the path where your fears dominate you. Do you look back and feel like you missed out? Do you have regrets or sadness? Wish you’d made different choices? Compare the feelings from both possibilities and use that emotion to make your choice.
Find something even more frightening
Become more fearful of not taking action and what scares you feels less daunting. Full of fear and “what ifs” that keep you immobilized? Be more scared of settling for less, for a life that’s far below what you deserve or desire.
Dance with your anxiety
Use the energy of anxiety and fear to move yourself forward, not hold you back. Remember, you don’t have to feel good to do stuff. Tony’ trained himself to say “I can be fearful and do it anyway. I don’t have to get rid of the fear, I just have to dance with it.” When you train your brain to do it anyway, it doesn’t matter if it’s cold, you’re fearful, or it doesn’t feel good – you have a freedom that most people don’t have.
Change your physical state
Anxiety can spiral out of control, leaving people trembling, sweating, or making it hard to breathe. Changing your physical state can be as simple as priming, lifting your chest a little higher, or getting up and dancing. Most of us look for what’s wrong in our world; what’s wrong is always available. But remember: what’s right is also there. It’s how you control your focus.
When you feel tension, pain, stress, or anxiety, try Tony’s 90-second rule. You align your head and your heart through heart breathing, feel your issue for 90 seconds, figure it out, and let it go.
The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. See full disclaimer.