I have experienced anxiety for most of my life. And I am not alone. Almost every woman I work with in my coaching practice has some form of anxiety. It can look like chronic worry, nervousness, overthinking, replaying scenarios in your head, overreactions to small things, maximizing the negative, minimizing the positive, people-pleasing, over-apologizing, fear of saying or doing something wrong, being distracted or unable to make decisions. All of which can lead you to feeling powerless unworthy, scared, and stuck.
Rates of anxiety and depression are about four times higher right now than they were in 2019, with close to one-third of US adults reporting symptoms of anxiety. With the heaviness of war and the ongoing pandemic, you too might be finding that your anxiety is increasing. Are your demons—the ones you thought you’d dealt with long ago—slipping back out through the cracks? Are you finding it more difficult to push through and pretend you’re okay?
In our society, we have been conditioned to look for the quick fix. We’ve been taught to manage symptoms and problems. But that is like trying to keep a huge cork under water. It requires constant effort and work—and almost all of our energy. And, if you let go of the cork, it just pops back up!
To really heal anxiety, I believe you have to redefine anxiety. You have to learn how to look at it from an entirely new vantage point. One that allows you to let go of the proverbial cork, restore your energy, and take back control of your life, even when everything around you is changing, uncertain, and unknown.
That is what my work and everything I do to help women with anxiety is all about. It’s about helping people take control of their mind, because that is where we actually live. You interact in the world, but you spend most of your time lost in your mind repeating the same thoughts, narratives, and outcomes you had yesterday. This is what actually leads to anxiety and feeling stuck.
So the solution is really a spiritual one, which requires you to learn how to understand and experience a new relationship with who you really are. You also need to learn a positive system to navigate this always-changing world from a deeper place of wisdom, not just relentlessly trying to accomplish the impossible task of controlling other people, places, and events. Until you solve the spiritual break in your life, you will always be pushing down the cork, and thinking the cork is the problem. Believing that if only that darn cork would stay under the water, you’ll be okay. But that mindset gives the power to the cork, not you! It gives the power to circumstances, not you. It gives the power to other people, not you.
Your beliefs frame your reality because they shape how you see and experience everything and anything. But your beliefs are not facts. This is one of the hardest things to grasp, because if you’ve been believing something for a long time you also have an emotional charge or home base that you live in. And your emotions drive your behavior and consequences—which perpetuates and reinforces your belief.
But here is the good news: Although your reality is your reality, you can change it. And it will change ONLY when you change your relationship to your beliefs, your internal reactions, and to yourself.
Here is one simple step to get you started. Although there are several proven steps to the framework I teach, for now, I want you to focus on this one action. It will help you get more insight and clarity about who you really are and what you can do to get unstuck to become the best version of yourself, without having to endlessly focus on problems, or just manage symptoms.
On a piece of paper, write down your answers to these three simple but profound questions. Sit quietly and take a few breaths before you begin. Do this exercise every day for 10 minutes, for the next seven days. Write down whatever comes to your heart and mind. There are no wrong answers. You will find that so much wonderful wisdom will come forth the more you open your heart and mind, and just do this:
- Who was I before I became scared to be me?
- Who was I before the world told me who I should be?
- What is one thing I can do right now to give this part of me life again?
You my friend, are powerful beyond measure. Learning how to tap into your power is the best work you can do. When you are a better you, the world is a better place. When you are happier, you show up and serve in a bigger way. Taking your power back will not only positively and profoundly change your life—it transforms your world!
Joy Stone is a Positive Psychology Life Coach and a yoga teacher. She combines the yoga tradition with modern positive psychology to help people move beyond anxiety, fear, and overwhelm, without medication or traditional talk therapy, so they can move forward in life and thrive. Joy works with individuals and groups from all over the country via phone and Skype, and locally in the Nashville area. Find out more at joystonecoaching.com.