ASK ABDI: HOW DO I DEAL WITH PROFOUND ANXIETY?
QUESTION: The energy is so intense right now for me, and I need a shoulder to lean on. My anxiety has been so high lately, and what I have come up with is that it boils down to feeling unsafe. I feel unsafe mainly because of the big changes taking place: I recently moved cities, I have a young child and have a new baby on the way, have lots of changes with my work expanding (new products/lease issues), and feel as though my life is in the hands of everyone except me. Add to that - the world seems terribly unstable, which I have become more and more sensitive to. There have been many twists and turns in the growing and changes that have been taking place. All of the curveballs and twists have flared my anxiety up, and as I was focusing on the details of the actual events, it hit me: it’s the anxiety of not knowing, of fear of the unknown and being afraid of things turning out badly, because I know the pain so well of not being in control. I just want some reassurance that things will be okay, that it’s all good. Maybe that’s not possible. I suppose it all stems from childhood and fear of that pain - pain of change, surprise, and abandonment. It feels better just writing these things down. Can you offer some words of comfort?
ANSWER: There are A LOT of changes in a short period of time in your life. It is totally normal to have these feelings of anxiety. We are never in control; it is just that this fact becomes radically obvious in times of rapid change. As you are experiencing, just sharing these feelings can have a healing effect. Take time and soothe yourself. Take a walk, a bath, rub your own feet. Lovingly parent yourself, as you do your child. Have a conversation with yourself, either in writing or in contemplation, about how much there is on your plate. Reach out to friends and trusted allies. Pat yourself on the back for showing up for and allowing all of these changes. Remind yourself that anxiety is a natural response to change, but it does not mean that all will turn bad. It is how we are wired to survive evolutionarily, so we do not fall asleep behind the wheel. You have come so far without disastrous results. Understand, that many times we fear the worst as a way of controlling an uncontrollable situation. We hypermobilize our psyche, the same way we tighten our body when we are under stress. Another option is to learn to tolerate the unknown and trust that we have the tools to deal with life as it comes our way. You have managed to be here for all of your life, make a living, have a family. Why should this not continue? One foot in front of the other, one conscious breath after another.
Use your breath and feel your feet as ways to slow things down. Stand guard at your mind’s gate when it goes off in tangents of all possible disasters. Gently and firmly guide yourself back into the moment over and over. And always remember, this too shall pass.