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Welcome Anxiety - Be my guest!

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Yup, you read this right! Welcome Anxiety! It may sound counterintuitive, but welcoming your anxiety, intrusive thoughts or any other negative emotions with open arms can help you cope emotionally and ultimately heal. Treat those anxious feelings, and other negative thoughts and feelings with compassion. Welcome them as guests who are here to temporarily crash at your place.

Ride The Wave, Roll With the Punches, Let the cloud pass...

You’ve probably heard all kinds of metaphors alluding to letting go of anxiety, dealing with hardships… “riding the wave”, “rolling with the punches”, “letting the cloud/storm pass.” The key message here is that trying to control or fighting emotions such as sadness, anxiety and anger delays the acceptance of these emotions. The other key message is that feelings are transient. Feeling are fleeting - they come and go. Allowing them to be or welcoming them is the art of applying acceptance-based strategies towards our experiences.

Have you ever told yourself not to think about something? What were the outcomes of that self-command? Well, you ended up thinking that thought, didn’t you?

Let’s play a quick game…

For the next 20 seconds, think about anything that you want to think about (weather, friends, colleagues, doing laundry). But DON’T think about a pink elephant.

How long were able to distract yourself from thinking about/visualizing a pink elephant?? I bet that that pink elephant popped into your mind within less than 5 seconds!

In psychology, this phenomenon is known as the “ironic process theory,” whereby deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts actually make them more likely to surface!

Several studies have shown that pushing our thoughts away make them not only persist but amplify them.

Thought suppression may lead to a "rebound" effect, where the effort to push a thought away actually causes it to return. This leads to more thought suppression, which leads to experiencing more distressing thoughts and the feeling that we failed at eradicating them. This can turn into a vicious cycle.

If you can solve the problem, Then what is the need of worrying. If you cannot solve it, what is the use of worrying? - Shantideva

Anxiety is not an aberration; it is a part of our humanness. Buddhist teachings state that suffering is to be expected and acknowledged. Certain Buddhist chants serve to remind people that part of making peace with our reality is expecting impermanence, lack of control and unpredictability. Thinking that things should be different or fighting against them, from a Buddhist perspective, adds unnecessary suffering. Running from anxiety, fear, negative feelings, suffering only strengthens it.

Welcome your guest with open arms!

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