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  • Writer's pictureNarelle

What if anxiety is your super power?

What if you befriend anxiety and find it is actually working for you and your greater good?

What if anxiety is not an ailment but a way we receive information?

What if anxiety is a moment on a scale?  At one end we have high anxiety complete with body tremors, inability to draw breath and complete shutdown.  At the other end we have zen like calm with clear focus. And everything is a point on this spectrum.  We move along this scale - sometimes quickly, sometimes more gradual, like a dimmer rather than an “on/off” switch.  Sometimes we are firing in a panic of complete overwhelm, and other times we are calm and motivated.

Anxiety is always forward thinking - it is never based on now. It is what we feel when something bad could happen and might happen.  It is uncertainty about something that has not happened yet, just a possibility.  So anxiety helps us prepare for survival - It makes us feel and we must pay attention.

Anxiety drives us to do things. When we feel the overwhelm of an uncertain future anxiety animates us to take action.  We don’t tend to sit around passively, we always respond even if that response is not the most productive thing at the time.  We will react in some way - we get something done or we curl up in the corner and rock.

But what if anxiety exists to speak to us, as the initial whisper that we are moving to a future that is not right for us?

After all, any feeling including anxiety is fundamentally information from your body.

If you can identify the source of your anxiety it could give you useful information so you know what you can do.  That information leads to action.  Action leads to possibilities.

So anxiety grabs your attention (sometimes in a dramatic way), tells you what is going on and then motivates you to act…because we don’t want to keep feeling anxious.  And it is the feeling bad that makes anxiety works - we want it to go away.

Anxiety is both protective and productive - it moves us toward action.   Anxiety is an advantageous superpower.  And we can’t take it away…although we try.

We try with medications.  We try with alcohol.  We try to numb.  We avoid social connections and anything that is new or uncertain.  Mostly we avoid anything we did before that made us feel these feelings - people, cars, bridges, tunnels, public transport…and the list is endless.

So here is my belief….

Anxiety is not a failure.  Anxiety does not mean something is wrong with us.

Anxiety is a message that gives us the chance to influence what is coming ahead to work for us.  It is useful.  It is our superpower.  We just need to work with it.  We don’t need to master it.  We just need to listen to it.

Through the uncertainty we can create possibility because we get a chance to influence and create what comes next.

Best thing is, we can learn to be anxious in a productive way.  It is not about turning the anxiety off, or removing it completely, because that rarely happens.  it is more about understanding what the anxiety is telling you - listening to the whisper before it knocks you over.

Tracy Dennis-Tiwary in her book “Future Tense”, gives us three principles in overcoming anxiety:

  1. Anxiety is information about the future; listen to it

Anxiety must be uncomfortable for you to pay attention.  Be curious.  It is effectively keeping you focused on the future both the good things as well as the things that could go wrong.  You don’t have to like it.    Just investigate it.

  1. If anxiety isn’t useful, let it go for a moment

It doesn’t always have a good message and sometimes it is too slow to reveal what the message is.  It is not always useful - it might not have any reasonable or helpful action you can take to remedy the situation.  It might just make you worry and ruminate.  If there is no clear direction then put it away, let it go and take a break from it.  Come back to it later.

  1. If anxiety is useful, do something purposeful with it

If you didn’t care about it you wouldn’t be anxious.  So where is it directing you.  Where do you need to pay attention.  What do you need to do that maybe you don’t want to do.

Anxiety is a superpower because it has power and influence over where we are going and what possibilities we have.  Anxiety is motivating.  It keeps us focused and shows us what is not working.  It exerts an influence.  It is a normal emotion.

Turning our back on anxiety is turning our back on possibility.  Turning our back on anxiety is turning our back on the whispers of your body.

You get to choose whether it is useful and use it, or useless and move it.
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