Excerpt from THE HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET
“In my 20s, I discovered another challenge that, at the time, appeared to hold me back. I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. When you’re anxious, you can’t perform at your full potential. Anxiety was tough. It created a lot of problems in my life—or so I thought. I was put on a very strong prescription medication (PAXIL) to help me cope with the anxiety. Essentially, the medication took away my lows and it took away my highs, too. I felt like I was experiencing the world through a dirty filter and I didn’t enjoy that feeling at all. During this time, I was going to lunch daily with two buddies. The anti-anxiety medication took the life out of me and they noticed—and were worried. I remember them saying to me “You have to snap out of it!” I wanted to snap out of it; I felt isolated, as if I was living in a virtual cocoon separating me from the rest of the world. I was numb!
I made a decision to take massive action to stick with my prescription until the bottle was empty and then take myself off the meds. When I swallowed that last pill, I quit cold turkey! This turned out to be a huge mistake because I then started feeling like I was going insane. No, seriously! I remember calling my doctor and begging him to help me make the feeling stop. Luckily, he had a sample pack of five pills at his office that he could give me. I started taking the meds again. Whew, what a relief! I returned to my “medicated state” determined to get off the medication the right way. This time, I slowly weaned myself off of it. In the meantime, I had to figure out how to manage the so-called “general anxiety disorder” I had been diagnosed with, without medication.
I did a lot of research and discovered the drugs weren’t treating the actual cause of my anxiety at all. Instead, they were only treating the effects such as my restlessness, irritability, and the racing thoughts in my head. Honestly, I could have been on that medication for years and not gotten any better. In order to free myself from the constraints of anxiety and put myself in a better place, I needed to figure out the cause of my problem and fix it—once and for all! And guess what? I did it. I learned how to treat anxiety without drugs and I’ve been anxiety-free ever since—true story! Decreasing and even eliminating anxiety became another core concept of the high performance mindset”
So how did I do this? I became immersed in understanding anxiety. First and foremost, I learned that by saying “ I HAVE anxiety” or “my anxiety got the best of me”, I was essentially labeling myself thus creating an identity out of anxiety. This does not put us in a place of healing because when we lose something we believe we are, we can fall into a version of identity crisis. The truth though… is that you don’t have anxiety. It is not the chicken pox, the flu or even a pinched nerve. And THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. In fact, some anxiety is highly valuable, it allows us to quickly respond and get out of dangers way. That is not the anxiety I am talking about. Instead, I am talking about the anxiety you experience when your life isn’t truly at risk. Anxiety is merely a label for our experience, not of our being. The first step to removing anxiety is to remove it as an identity of yours.
“ I do not have anxiety, I experience it!”.
This is the start to my game changer. After I said this over and over, I began the process of freeing my mind of the belief that “this is how it is” and shift to “I am always in control of my experience” because while we cant change what happens to us, we have 100% control over how we respond.
The next thing I started to realize and apply is that anxiety is the experience we have when we feel like we can’t control something that is in the future. Anxiety is always future based. We are not anxious about something in our past…that is called depression. When we attempt to think in a way with the expectation needing to control the future, we become irrational and this.. is when things go wrong for us. If you notice, I said when we attempt to “think in a way”. The reason I say this is because anxiety is the effect of thinking. This is why when people talk anti-anxiety meds without learning about their thoughts; their anxiety comes back when they stop using the meds. Meds only mask the effects of anxiety instead of resolving it. So, anxiety is an effect. When we begin to think irrationally, we oftentimes overgeneralize and awfulize what is going to happen, in the future, only to find out that when that situation happens, its not near as bad as we assumed.. all that worrying.. for nothing.
When you start to feel this way.. focus on your breath. Calm breath in through your nose and calm breath out through your mouth. Anxiety causes us to tighten up and not breath as often thus leading to an elevated experiences of anxiety. By controlling your breath, you reduce the experience of anxiety. Also, thinking about your breathing is a present moment activity and since we can only have one thought at a time, if we are thinking about something that is present, we will be unable to tend to thoughts of the future. You can then begin to say something like “stop!” or “think!” as a catch phrase to interrupt your thoughts. Then ask yourself questions like “IS this really true?” or “how can I see things differently”. “Is this beyond my control?” because if it is, I need to let it go. You can also ask yourself for evidence about how you are thinking. Oftentimes, with anxiety, our thoughts are assumptions thus looking for evidence will help you see through your experience of anxiety and calm yourself.
You can do this too!! I PROMISE!
I provide a more in-depth review of our thoughts and how we can eliminate anxiety and depression from our lives through awareness and exercises that I include in my book, THE HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET which will be released in July. You can pre-order my book here if you would more info on how to remove anxiety and depression from your life, for GOOD!