The #1 cause of anxiety
Anxiety plagues a lot of people. It's uncomfortable to say the least. If you are living with chronic or higher than normal anxiety my hope is that today's post will give you a little breathing space. The most common symptoms of anxiety that I see are:
- Uneasiness or constant worry
- Hard time taking deep, soothing breaths
- Dizziness or headaches
- Stomaches or indigestion
- Blurred vision
- Fast pulse
Some of these may seem extreme but they are common when anxiety is lingering in your body. To get rid of the symptoms you have to ease their cause - and there is ONE singular cause of anxiety:
As Pema Chodron writes in her book Taking the Leap, "We are constantly looking for ground beneath us, always looking for a permanent reference point, but it doesn't exist. Everything is impermanent."
Basically we have no tolerance for uncertainty. And anxiety is just this. The inability to predict a safe or secure future.
Uncertainty, like fear, is an inevitable part of life. It's part of existence. We have zero way of knowing what's to come. The only certainty we have is the present moment. The reason that we aren't running around terrified all the time is because we're good at putting some prediction in place.
We have routines and rituals. We surround ourselves with community and like-minded people. We eat the same foods, we go to the same coffee shop, and we like the same exercise routine. Sameness becomes safety.
What happens when that sameness is no longer enough? This usually happens when one of these experiences is going on in our life:
- We need things to be perfect or certain.
- We aren't living in alignment with our highest-good.
- Our needs are not being met.
- We're highly uncomfortable with discomfort.
On Tuesday I wrote 6 ways to practice radical acceptance and offered 6 ways to cope in the face of our fears. They are: notice, observe, pause, embrace, cultivate, and practice. I think these fit well in working with anxiety as well.
For today's Breathing Space I suggest trying on these 6 ways in the form of questions. You may use a journal or just reflect over a cup of tea for a few minutes. Notice any shifts in your body or if strong emotions come up. Remember to pause and know that you are safe right now.
What do I notice about my anxiety right now?
If I stop and observe this present moment what do I notice?
When I pause and take a deep breath, how do I feel?
When I embrace my anxiety as having something to teach me, what do I learn?
If I cultivated breathing space into my life how would things change?
When I practice being present how does it shift my anxiety?
Try on one question or all six. The intention behind each question is to remind you that here in this moment you have certainty. Use this to ease moving forward and to listen to what it is you need resolved.
In light and love,