Friday, November 18, 2016

Opposing Anxiety

Took this gorgeous photo
when I opposed anxiety and
spent the day in the city.
I may have said here before that I think we suffer more when we fight anxiety. I believe that to be true. Trying to get rid of it, hating it and otherwise making your struggle greater seems counter intuitive to me. However, that doesn't mean you can't oppose your anxiety. Instead of coming to blows with it, just go against it. Do what it doesn't want you to do.

Exposures are a common enough concept in anxiety. It means doing the thing you're afraid over and over until it becomes old hat and thus less terrifying. This is a similar concept, but less structured. It's something I try to do in the moment. For example, say I think about going to the movies and it makes my stomach flip-flop. Well, before I was maybe going to the movies, now, hopefully, I definitely am. An emotion doesn't get to tell me who to be and how to live life. I, we, deserve to go to the movies.

I am starting to think of it as doing the opposite. It isn't always appropriate, so I can't always implement it, but it's a fun tool to have. If anxiety says, get up and move around, clean, workout, do something! I sit. I work. I read. I play video games, but I stay still. If anxiety says, stay here. You can't go out and do the thing! I don't stay. I go out and do the thing. Listen, it isn't successful every time or this would hardly be a disorder, but I'm enjoying trying to stay ahead of my anxiety and showing it that's it's wrong from time to time.

I'm not saying if you're anxiety tells you not to hurt yourself or someone to do the opposite. That's horrible, and you don't want to do that. I'm not saying that if your anxiety smartly tells you not to drive 101 miles on the interstate that you should put the pedal to the metal. These are areas where anxiety is useful . . . and correct. Deep down, you know when your anxiety is being rational and when it is irrational. Try to know when to oppose and when to listen up.

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