The symptoms of anxiety disorders can exist, without being deemed as helpful or harmful. A client’s initial response to anxiety is to avoid the discomfort. Your anxiety wins when you label the symptoms as wrong or dangerous and you try to push them away. In order to overcome anxiety, you need to observe the symptoms and label them as being acceptable in the moment. When your body is in a state of fear, your brain sends off false alarms and tricks you into thinking there is an emergency. It sets off a fight or flight response. Overriding these false alarms takes bravery and hard work. This is different from approaching anxiety through the lens of “I need to get my body to be calm”. Instead, we are labeling the sensations as acceptable. Although your body may be physically anxious or uncomfortable, the goal is to be mentally calm and in control. Do not fear these sensations or view them as dangerous. Without practice, fear will override this process. When you focus on reducing the fear associated with the anxious response and when you ultimately try to increase the symptoms through confrontation, you are showing your brain that you are not scared of anxiety. Prolonged exposure to a feared situation brings about a significant decrease in fear.
Through working with an anxiety specialist, you can learn how to overcome your fear of anxiety and shift to a place of mental calmness and control.