Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How can I stop this stressful, anxious feeling?

Question for Penny: Not sure how to explain this, but I’ve been fighting with this stressful, anxious feeling that seems to come and go. Some of it is work, some family, and some personal stuff. It all adds up and I feel like I'm drowning with swirling thoughts and emotions. How do I stop this struggle inside me?

Answer: I understand this “fight” you’re describing. We’ve all been there and we all still go there from time to time. Some of us just stay there too long not knowing how to snap out of it. I call this internal struggle the “storm within.” I compare it to a storm because a storm can come, but the good news is, it doesn't stay forever. It will always end at some point. So this, too, (your storm within), will eventually pass. 

First, understand this: In order to stop the struggle, you must first choose to stop fighting. Just stop fighting your feelings because what you resist will persist. You can’t avoid having a storm within. It is part of life. And it is what creates “balance” and keeps things “whole.” Let me explain.

Everything that goes up eventually comes down, just as sure as the sun will rise and set. With that, one could also say we understand what “light" is once we learn of “darkness." If it wasn’t for darkness we can't truly appreciate light. So you see? Everything is WHOLE when it has its counterpart. It is all quite enlightening once you grasp the depth of the concept.

In the meantime, know that this “storm within” can help you grow… you WILL find a way to weather the storm (as you’ve always had or you wouldn’t be here). Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it does get better. It gets better because you’ve gotten better. And you can only get better when you’re challenged

So stop fighting to end this storm. Fighting this storm within is like fighting against the powerful force of nature. You won’t win. You can’t win. Instead, recognize this storm as it "passes through you" and know that like all storms, it might or might not stay for long, but regardless, it will eventually end.

As you open the door to this awareness, feelings of fear or insecurity may seem more intense. Instead of fighting or resisting uncomfortable feelings, simply just “be” with those feelings. Notice them forming and watch them in a nonjudgmental way. Be an observer, not a victim

Remember: When you try to push away a feeling, it only grows stronger, but when you simply notice and allow it to be, it will soon dissipate. In the beautiful words of Harvard neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, "Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated." 

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