I used to experience anxiety as something attacking out of the blue, without a clear trigger or origin. For years it was an experience that the whole word somehow hated me and wanted to make sure this continued.
When I learned more about it I found that most of my anxiety was connected to some kind of illogical or wrong perception of things and persons around me.
I also learned that anxiety has stages. It doesn’t have to trigger an immediate emotional and physical response.
It can be stopped at what I call the interpretation-stage and thought-stage. Often my anxiety was triggered by something someone said or some social event I was invited to take part in(which actually also is something someone said i.e. an invitation etc). It almost immediately spawned some kind of panic or meltdown.
I see the pattern of my anxiety in the following 6 stages:
- Input (outside comment, evaluation, invite)
- Interpretation (through past personal experience, past self-perception)
- Thought (realization of the interpretation)
- Emotion (fear, dread, worry)
- Physical reaction (panic, meltdown, crying, hyperventilation)
- Output/result (i.e. avoid ”input”)
While me mostly can’t do much to control any input I believe that the stages of interpretation and thought can be altered to result in different emotions and avoid physical reactions.
There is never just one interpretation of any input. If we can learn that we are in the position to interpret or change the narrative of our response that might lead to better emotions and possibly avoid an anxiety meltdown or panic attack.
It’s not done in a switch, I’m aware of that. For me it was a determined decision to start training myself to interpret and think differently about impressions I wasn’t very good at handling. Two years ago I almost had anxiety meltdowns every day. It had been going on for more than a year. Today I nearly feel anxious at all.
Anxiety is hell, it really is. You deserve to know you don’t have to be enslaved by it forever. Have courage and go directly to its core in order to disarm it.