Can We Cure Anxiety?
Anyone suffering from anxiety naturally wants to cure that anxiety. This is because that experience of uneasiness, discomfort, fear, tension, and worry can significantly reduce the quality of your life. Anxiety can be a powerful force that reduces your happiness while also limiting what you can do in life. For many, it can feel like their anxiety is running the show and that they are often just “holding it together” to get through the day.
There Is No Cure For Fear
When we talk about curing anxiety it is important to make a distinction between fear and anxiety.
Fear is our body’s natural alarm system that alerts us to danger. In many instances fear is life-protecting and informs us when we need to take action to protect ourselves. People who do not feel sufficient fear can put themselves at serious risk for injury or other problems.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a long-lasting sense of discomfort that results from worrying about something that is potentially painful. It also involves imagining a threat is much more likely to occur and then worrying about what we will do then.
While fear is something you will inevitably feel for the rest of your life, worry, stress, and anxiety are all patterns of thinking and feeling that you can change.
Change The Way You Think, Change The Way You Feel
While fear is an immediate, gut-level response to a present threat, anxiety is a lingering, nagging discomfort that is usually about something we fear will happen in the future. Much of our anxiety is the result of how we imagine something will go.
For example, if you are having trouble sleeping at night because you are worried about your finances, what are you thinking to yourself?
I can’t believe we didn’t get that client. Without that contract I am not going to make anything this month. What if I don’t make anything next month either? How will I pay my rent? What if I can’t cut it and I lose this job?? What will I do?
Notice how these thoughts are based on something in the future?
Anxiety usually results from these two basic beliefs:
- Something will go wrong in the future.
- I won’t be able to handle it.
The key to cure anxiety is to become aware of your thinking and to challenge the thoughts that are particularly unrealistic or fear-based. Once simple way to do this is to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On one side, write out the anxious thoughts that are causing you distress. Getting these thoughts on paper and out of your mind can have a powerful calming effect, allowing you to see exactly what you are saying to yourself.
On the other side of the paper, write out more realistic, reassuring thoughts that are based on these two beliefs:
- This might go well or poorly, I do not know yet.
- No matter what happens, I know I will be able to handle it.
In the financial anxiety example above, you might write something like: That is a shame I didn’t get that client, I would have preferred to have gotten that contract. I am naturally feeling a little worried, however this is not the end of the road. There are many more opportunities ahead of me. Worst case scenario, if I lose my job, I know I will be able to handle it. I’ve always found a way.
Taking It Further
This process of learning how to take a step back, look at your thoughts, and choose to believe something more empowering and hopeful is a skill that anyone can develop. It is a big part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a highly researched type of psychotherapy that can help treat any anxiety disorder.
If you have been suffering with worry, stress, or anxiety for quite some time, then it might be time to take action. Clinical research has shown that psychotherapy can be incredible effective in helping you cure anxiety. Find out more here.