Anxiety and panic are dirty, rotten scoundrels who don’t play fair!
Dealing with them sucks in ways that people who don’t have an anxiety disorder can’t begin to understand.
There’s no cajoling these scoundrels, bribing them, or trying to placate them.
They like the power they steal from you, and they will do everything they can to keep it.
But that’s not to say you can’t outsmart them!
Other people have found ways to free themselves from the ongoing suffering these two have caused, and so have I.
And that was after they knocked me down, stomped all over me and then kicked me to the curb more times than I can remember.
I’m not saying it’s easy to get the upper hand with them, but if I can do it, then so can you!
There are many reasons why you’re anxious
Some anxiety can have its roots in past traumatic events that occurred throughout your life, or at different points in time during it.
Big changes or lots of smaller changes can combine to increase your feelings of anxiety. Even seemingly harmless incidents that occur during your day can add up and trigger an attack.
Anxiety that would be easy to handle normally can escalate quickly when you don’t take care of yourself or when you’ve got additional challenges with perfectionism, low self-esteem, stress, lack of sleep, shame, and/or depression.
Though anxiety has many sources and is unique to each individual, there is one thing each person must do, including you, in order to outsmart it.
You need to:
- Trust that you too can put anxiety in its rightful place;
- Trust that you can find and gather together the people, processes, and approaches that singularly or in combination give you the supportive framework you need;
- Trust that you are worthy and capable of doing that work and that you can go the distance;
- Trust that you will come through this better than you were before anxiety screwed with you;
- Trust that you can give up your expectations of what should be done – so you can do what needs to be done – for you.
How Do You Outsmart Anxiety and Panic?
You do it strategically by figuring out ways to undermine it.
By undermining your anxiety I mean your need to weaken, diminish, reduce, impair, hurt, cripple, and sap it’s energy!
How do you do that?
You find and use techniques that help you:
- Disconnect from it even if it’s only for a few moments
- Minimize it’s ability to escalate, and
- Literally outsmart it by becoming proficient in those areas that cause you the most anxiety.
To disconnect from your anxiety, i.e., get a little space from it where you can begin to get some peace-of-mind, you can use a mantra, grounding techniques, guided meditations, as well as breathing and other techniques.
Minimizing anxiety’s ability to escalate requires a little strategic planning and includes setting up a safety net, using a buddy system, or planning a day that deliberately targets ways to help you be successful.
Outsmarting by deliberately targeting and resolving those issues that raise your anxiety. This is tough, requires time, effort and depending on what those issues are, you may need to seek professional help.
How do I know This Strategy Works?
When I began my journey, my mental state was so bad that I slept on a mattress on the floor because I was terrified that the nightly panic attacks would throw me out of bed.
I was swamped with fear, shame, and feelings of self-hatred, and had little control over my thoughts, or my feelings of terror.
Therapeutic MP3s and guided meditations helped me get some sleep. When each one ended, or my mind would no longer be lulled by listening to one over and over again, either anxiety would jolt me awake or a panic attack would.
Though the guided meditations helped take the edge off my anxiety, I needed something that I could do myself to distract myself from the constant, emotional deluge especially during my waking hours.
That’s when I took the first three sentences of a Buddhist meditation and turned it into a mantra.
Because I couldn’t process what I read and retained little of what I heard, I had to write the mantra on index cards that I put around the house and carried with me everywhere.
It was the best thing I could have done for myself because it gave me back a small amount of the power that panic and anxiety stole from me.
Focusing on the mantra, reciting it over an over and over during the day and at night helped me create small moments of time just for myself.
From there I just kept pushing forward with trying to find other techniques that could help me take back my power.
I learned how to keep anxiety from escalating by making changes to how I handled my to-do list, and scheduled my work day.
And throughout my journey, I confronted – one at a time – everything that was fueling my anxiety and panic attacks. Since my anxiety was sourced in the trauma I experienced as a child, I had a LOT to deal with.
It wasn’t easy, but one thing I learned is that taking baby steps is the best way to go. That’s because if you try to push too hard against anxiety, it pushes back harder!
Small steps and small changes keep you flying under anxiety’s radar. They also give you a chance to build up your physical, mental and emotional reserves, and your expertise in outsmarting your anxiety.
Small wins over anxiety are Big wins for you!
The First Step for Outsmarting Your Panic and Anxiety is to learn to create a refuge, a mental and emotional space where anxiety and panic can’t intrude even if it’s only for a few seconds.
Think of this refuge as your own secret sanctuary where anxiety is barred from entering. It’s a safe haven to which you can transport yourself at any time.
Based on sound psychological practices and neuroscience, these techniques help you take back the power that panic and anxiety have been stealing from you.
Regardless of where you are in your dealings with those two scoundrels, the techniques work if you practice them, and use them strategically.
The Three Foundation Techniques
The techniques are called: Make a Space, Loving Kindness, and Staying and Naming.
Make a Space is a method of creating brief spaces of time during your day so you can check in with yourself and what’s happening with you.
Because I couldn’t manage that one at first, I began with the Loving Kindness technique which is the mantra I credited from the Buddhist meditation practice. Using a mantra helps you focus and has been scientifically proven to alter the chemical state of your mind. Mantras can leave you happier, less stressed and feeling better about yourself.
The third technique is called Staying and Naming. By expanding on the Make a Space technique, it paves the way for you get in touch with feelings and emotions that panic and anxiety have hidden from you.
The one thing the techniques have in common is that they’re all about you and not about your anxiety or panic.
That’s the secret sauce that fuels your strategy as you outsmart these two scoundrels.
Instead of giving most of your attention to these two yahoos and fearing what they’ll do next, you put yourself first in three very specific ways.
With the foundation techniques, you step into a safe mental space where you can literally catch your breath, mentally regroup, and then choose what’s best for you to do next.
When you click on the link below, you’ll be taken to another page on this website.
There you’ll learn how the foundation practices help you change your experiences with anxiety and panic.
You’ll also find information about your brain’s neuroplasticity which describes
- how your brain creates new responses,
- why these practices work, and
- how you can make them work faster.
Change is not always easy, but these three techniques are easy, life-affirming changes that help you get the upper hand over those two dirty, rotten scoundrels.