One of the problems with feeling anxiety is how the lack of self-compassion can add to this distressing experience. We feel the body in a state of unrest and our mind can come in and create even more anxiety. We tend to judge ourselves when we get anxious. Self-compassion is often our last course of action, if we practice it at all. Yet self-compassion is one of the keys to unlocking the grip of anxiety.
When I felt anxious, feeling the onset of a panic attack, I used to say things like this:
“What now? There’s just no reason for me to be feeling like this right now!”
“I just want this feeling to GO AWAY!”
“What’s wrong with ME?”
Contrary to my past usual MO of denying or avoiding what I was feeling, when faced with anxiety, I came full frontal with myself. This was not a space I could duck or dismiss. It was right in my face.
My standard reaction was to get in an argument with what I was feeling. This swiftly turned into a fight with what I was feeling. I could feel myself getting knocked down and I did all that I could to stand back up. Then I would continue fighting what I was feeling.
And, of course, the panic continued.
Little did I know at the time that my attitude and conversation were feeding right into this state of alarm.
I was so busy beating myself up for my uncomfortable state of being that I was practicing self-judgment, which I promptly turned into self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-pity – the exact opposites of self-compassion.
There’s even self-righteousness in this heady mixture.
Not exactly a recipe for find the way through anxiety, is it?
Are you tired of the inner battle? The bully?
Are you tired of lying scared still and hoping your fear will disappear all by itself?
Are you tired of being dragged into submission by your self-judgment?
A test of our character is how we treat ourselves in our darkest moments.
Will it be self-contempt, or will it be self-compassion?
Let’s get to the solution.
Let down the walls you have built within yourself.
Grow your courage.
Lay down the arms down and come to the peace table with your inner bully.
Negotiate terms – unconditional peace terms.
Make the commitment to honor your peace agreement.
Finding your way through anxiety with self-compassion:
1) Willingness – start with the willingness to have self-compassion.
2) Know you’re worth it. This goes beyond deciding you are worthy. This is knowing all the way to your bones that you are worthy. It is not in question – not even remotely. This is an admission, for some of us, that can be hard to swallow. Yet believing that we are truly worthy is a crucial piece of developing self-compassion in any time, let alone in the extreme time of anxiety.
3) Get real and get honest with yourself. Be courageous enough to see where you are and how you are.
4) Accept and observe your current circumstance. Do not argue with what is happening in your body. Notice it and become a non-judgmentally neutral observer of your experience.
5) Stand firm in your commitment. Remember you have a choice. You can commit to the energy of the anxiety or to healing it.
6) Forgive yourself. Whatever it is that you are holding against yourself – forgive it. All of it. For once and for all.
7) Realize your Higher Power is there for you and working in your favor.
8) Honor the power your body has to heal.
9) Get present. When an anxious moment erupts, remember the power you have when you bring consciousness to it. The past is over. The future is yet to come. Where does the healing live? Healing lives in the only space it can – the present. When you bring your attention to the present moment, you have entered the healing field. Walk into it bringing all your compassion.
Part of why an anxiety attack goes spinning out of control into full-on panic is that you are shunning a part the part of you that is freaking out. You become blind to yourself. Finding your way through an anxious moment requires the truth. Accept all of who you are. Then you are practicing self-compassion. From here, you can breathe, using the breath to help calm the body and bring it, and through it yourself, back to a state of peace.