The last couple of blogs were about worries and anxiety, and how many different habits you might have developed that maybe negatively impact these levels. Moving away from anxiety will not only mean letting go of worries, but it will also lead you to live life in several different ways. One of these things is reassurance, whether it be we are searching for it from others, or we are giving it to ourselves. Our mind is very clear in how it holds all the information that comes to us, and we have to understand that this is such a vast amount. Everything we do is held and stored in our unconscious minds and if this storage aspect of ourselves was not set up in this clear way, then we would struggle to live our lives in the way that we do. If we think about some of the things we do in life, like walking, driving, talking, etc, these are all formed by the build-up of memories. These memories are all stored in the same place, and as we learn a new skill the mind expands this part of its storage to hold all these experiences. Over time it creates a solid learned and developed habit and many of these we now do with hardly any conscious effort. If we think about walking, when was the last time you thought about picking your foot up or putting it down? We have this great ability to just walk naturally because your unconscious mind has stored all those memories in a way that allows your mind to automate those habits.
This is such a great thing for us, as learning to walk, or talk, or drive the car every day, would be such a struggle and for many of us mean it would mean that we just wouldn’t bother to even try doing these things anymore. So, this is why it is super important for your mind to store things in a clear and easily accessible way. The way our minds do this is to be totally black and white with things, so if we are saying to ourselves, we will be ok, it’s fine, we are not bothered, and in fact, we are, this will not help to reassure us. What it will do is the opposite and it will make us feel more anxious. Because with this black-and-white aspect of our minds, if we are not feeling good about something and we keep saying we will be ok, our minds think rightly so that we are not ok. If you are not ok with something, this scares your mind as it thinks you might be in danger and so it sends out those red alert signals because your mind thinks it needs to protect you.
If you are one of those people that reassure yourself or ask for reassurance from people or things around you, this will be affecting your anxiety levels. Now is the time to stop this and
look at things we can do instead of searching or giving reassurance. If we are the ones that keep saying we’re ok, then you can accept this is feeding your worries and choose to distract yourself instead. If we keep asking others to reassure us, then we can ask them to help us by not reassuring us and helping find ways to distract ourselves. What we can also do is start a positive journal or just set up a note on our phone and into this, we add every time we do something positive. Over time this will build up as our own personal memory of the fact that we can do these things and that we don’t need to worry about the worry or the fears that we can’t do them. If we are feeling nervous about doing something we can then just take a bit of time to look through all the things we have done. This is not reassurance; this is a reminder that we can do things and it will positively support your mind.
If we tell ourselves things like, “if we take Imodium pills with us, we will feel ok”, “if we go out with someone else, we will be ok”, “if we always take a bottle of water, we will be ok,” these are all reassurances and what they tell your mind is that you are only safe to do certain things. Whatever you might be using isn’t working, it is just negative reassurance, which means fear to our inner minds. This goes right back to being a child and having to take your favourite teddy or mussy with you, this was great as we are learning to do things as children but it is essential that we grow out of this so we can become safe and secure inside. If you have this style of comfort blanket reassurance in your life, then now is the time to start weaning yourself off them. These things might be the only reason you are still struggling with anxiety in those certain situations, so learning to let go of the comfort blankets and reassurances is the key. If for example, it is the Imodium, then instead of having them in your pocket or bag, leave them in your car. With the water, have a drink before you go and when you arrive, stop for another drink. Don’t get me wrong if you’re on a long journey take the water but if you’re driving down the road to the supermarket then maybe it’s not that necessary.
If we are safe and secure inside, we take this feeling wherever we go, and this is what allows us to be calm and relaxed in all those everyday situations. Just finding those ways to wean yourself of off these reassurances will enable you to build that inner safety and security. Over time your mind will start to forget about worrying and then it will start seeing these different situations as safe and not scary. Sara.