Psychology Today: How to Heal-The Process of Change When Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is such a terrible thing but once you learn to overcome it, you see it isn’t as bad as you thought. Articles like this one from Psychology Today help me see that. The steps in this article will help anyone wanting to overcome anxiety. Repeat as many times a day as needed… I do!

“Change happens in small, incremental moments that often result in dramatic changes that you fail to notice because the work has happened so gradually, yet consistently.”

The statement above that I copied, is true in my situation, as I now see the dramatic changes in my emotional reactions. Where I once would turn into a scared, insecure, emotional mess, I now stand firm and know I can find a way to manage. I will figure it out. It is a daily process, but I don’t mind. I will practice these steps as often as I need to do so… the more I do for myself, the better I feel!

I used to think that the contents of stellareddy.com would cause people to turn on me, physically and emotionally. That was my anxiety talking, as common sense now shows me that another person’s opinions on my actions, don’t count for much. What counts is how I show up in my life, not how someone else interprets how I show up.

I had such distorted beliefs to release! My anxiety was causing my mind to catastrophize the worst-case scenarios, which was thinking that these toxic tenants had the power and influence and were being believed for what they alleged against me. My fears were not real and could never become real, as they didn’t have that kind of influence over others. The toxic tenants have been going with their sites for almost 8 years, and no one has said anything to me, which shows me that their opinions online had no value.

The nasty words about me written by other people will never stop me from living. They may have influenced my own emotions in the past, but not now. I have done too much hard work getting past my anxiety!

It’s just a website filled with personal opinions about me from past tenants from my last place of work. While I may have felt vulnerable and exposed at first, I now realize that these opinions do not define me as a person. Their behaviour and words show who they are, not me! My worth and value come from within, not from the words of others, especially people who show such toxic behaviours.

It’s important to remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and not everyone will see things the same way. My current living situation isn’t all of a sudden going to change just because of the content they choose to write in the domain they created in my name. I don’t hide away anymore, especially not from them and their nasty opinions.

After being online myself for almost 3 years and never getting any bad emails or comments from all of the people they claimed were on their side against me, I now understand that they were trying to trigger my anxieties and fears.

Once you face your greatest fear and see it isn’t as bad as you thought, the fear is easier to manage. I am free from the anxiety and fears their words used to invoke within me.

As I continue to navigate life, I am learning to prioritize my well-being and self-acceptance. I choose to focus on my own growth and happiness, rather than being consumed by the opinion of toxic tenants who live in the past.
I love my life, it has become very peaceful and I come and go as I please, now without fear. All I had to do was realize that I had no reason to fear, it was just the symptoms of my PTSD and the anxieties it gives me.

Have a look at the article below and let me know what you think!


How to Heal: The Process of Change When Overcoming Anxiety

Small steps can lead to big changes.

Posted March 17, 2024 |  Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

KEY POINTS

  • Change happens in small, consistent, incremental steps.
  • Though the path to healing is unique for each individual, there are common steps for all to follow.
  • By trusting the process and following the steps, lasting relief is possible

I was in session with a client I had been working with for a while. She struggled with debilitating anxiety and was telling me a story about a problem that had happened at work. It was a story that in the past would have caused her distress, rumination, anger, and sleepless nights. This time, though, she calmly described the problem and how she handled it and concluded with the statement, “It will be fine. And if it’s not, I’ll figure it out.”

“Do you realize what just happened?” I asked her.

“No, what happened?”

She was not aware of the change in how she reacted to a familiar situation. Nor the absence of anxiety, or the trust and confidence with which she met the challenge. Both were new and different responses. She had not even noticed them.

This is often how the process of change looks. It rarely comes in an epiphany, or in a pivotal moment followed by a sudden new understanding, outlook on life, and dramatic shift in behavior. Change happens in small, incremental moments that often result in dramatic changes that you fail to notice because the work has happened so gradually, yet consistently.

Imagine a constant drip of water falling onto a stone over a long period of time. At first, it seems insignificant, barely making a mark on the stone’s surface. However, as time passes, each drop slowly erodes the stone, imperceptibly changing its shape. Eventually, after countless drops, the stone undergoes a significant transformation, yet it’s only when you step back and observe the entire process that you realize the extent of the change.

When doing the work of healing your anxiety, the path to healing will be different for each individual, but there are common themes and elements that will be true for all.

In the beginning, it often feels like hard, if not impossible work. You have to do the work to find relief from anxiety while feeling anxious. It requires changing longstanding patterns and ways of thinking with intention. And it can feel like the steps you are taking are so small, compared to the mountain you are trying to climb that they can’t possibly lead you to your goals—much like the drip of water falling onto a stone seems insignificant and incapable of changing the shape of the stone. And yet, by trusting the process and doing the work, you will get there.

The steps to lasting change are the following:

Step 1: Name It

To overcome anxiety, you have to name it, in the moment when it is happening. To further identify the source of your anxiety—catastrophizing, control, or distorted beliefs—will more precisely attune you to important details about your anxiety.

Step 2: Engage the Antidote

Overcoming anxiety requires attention, intention, and action to break the patterns of your anxiety. Finding relief from your anxiety will require engaging antidotes that address the underlying issue at the root of your anxiety. Examples (but not a complete list) include:

  • Mindfulness—observing your thoughts and feelings as a detached observer and without judgment. Remembering that all thoughts and feelings are temporary, and are not facts.
  • Curiosity—being curious about what your anxiety might be trying to tell you. How it might be trying (unsuccessfully) to help you. Anxious thoughts are almost always lies and stories that your mind is creating. Don’t get attached to the content of your thoughts, and simply reflect on why your anxiety might be appearing, and how it is trying to protect you.
  • Attending to the somatic symptoms of your anxiety through breathing, muscle relaxation, tapping, movement, and other body-based approaches to calm your nervous system.
  • Stepping into your fear. The shortest way out of your fear is to step straight into it.
  • Surrendering your need for control by shifting your sense of well-being from the conditions of your external environment to a sense of trust that no matter what happens, you will be OK because you possess all the internal and external resources needed to manage whatever happens.
  • Focusing only on what is in your control and accepting/releasing yourself from what is not.
  • Practicing resting, doing less, and relinquishing your sense of responsibility for things and problems that are not yours. Intentionally stepping back and doing less even when there are unfinished items on your to-do list.
  • Challenging false beliefs about yourself and replacing them with accurate reflections of who you are and what qualities you possess.
  • Practicing self-compassion. Being kind and understanding to yourself, especially when you make mistakes—recognizing that we are all imperfect and that you deserve the same kindness and compassion you would extend to others.

Step 3: Be on the Lookout for the “Objections” That Will Keep You Tethered to Your Anxiety

Each anxiety type has its own way of trying to convince you that your anxiety is necessary. Notice when these arise, recognize them for what they are, and avoid the anxiety trap they are trying to keep you in.

  • Catastrophizing uses the thought “but it could happen” to keep you attached to your anxiety. Anything could happen—it does not mean that it will.
  • Control will seek to convince you that your anxiety behaviors are the reason you are successful. This will make it difficult for you to let go and do less. Start with small, low-stakes challenges.
  • Distorted beliefs will reject, deflect and minimize feedback that comes to you from the world about who you are and how you are experienced by others. You will reject compliments, praise, evaluative grades, and scores in order to cling to your false beliefs about yourself. Interrupt this by accepting and receiving the feedback.

Step 4: Tolerate the Discomfort

Doing the work of overcoming your anxiety will not feel easy. Finding ways to tolerate your discomfort will aid you in the process. Useful strategies are self-talk, the use of calming mantras, and focusing on the goal instead of the immediate discomfort.

Step 5: Observe

Observe what happens in response to engaging the antidotes. What happened when you practiced a new behavior or response? What was the outcome? How did it feel?

Step 6: Repeat

Each of these steps must be repeated whenever your anxiety is present. If you trust the process and do the work, relief from your anxiety will be your reward.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/unpacking-anxiety/202403/how-to-heal-the-process-of-change-when-overcoming-anxiety


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