Welcome to “Love and Sex Today.” I’m Dr. Doug Weiss and our ninth topic is very important, “Mastering and Replacing Anxiety.”
Anxiety is a big issue. There are a lot of drugs being prescribed for anxiety. Anxiety has a lot of various components to it and we’re going to get into that today. More importantly, we’re going to get into a tool I have seen help people with all types of anxieties become able to master and replace their anxiety so they don’t have to carry it anymore.
So what is anxiety? It’s fear, not fear from something that’s actually happening. It’s oftentimes fear of something that might happen or could happen, or it’s triggered from something that might have happened in the past. It’s a dread of a certain type of encounter, maybe applying for a job or a dread of talking to the opposite sex or engaging in some things. Sometimes going in an elevator can create anxiety. It’s a worry. It’s an uneasiness. But oftentimes, it involves muscle tension and physiological symptoms.
Sometimes this anxiety is based on a past encounter, like getting mugged. I know someone who was robbed and had so much anxiety afterwards that they had to get a dog to be with them 24/7 in every public setting because they were so anxious about being mugged again. They had serious trauma from that past experience. That can be a legitimate form of anxiety.
So there’s anxiety that can be from the past or be triggered. It could be an erroneous fear or concern that you have. Some people have anxiety about certain circumstances that could happen, but oftentimes never have happened. It could just be that anxious feeling in your gut that’s happening with you right now, in a situation of present anxiety. It can also be staying constantly anxious about the future: not enough money, maybe the end of the world is coming, some political shift, some international crisis, disease, or anxiety about getting sick.
There are all kinds of anxiety. If you have any version of anxiety, you’re going to read through this post because I’m going to give you a tool— an exercise to help you overcome your anxiety. This comes from my book “Emotional Fitness” and I highly recommend it for anyone who needs to develop any emotional skill. Most of us have no training in emotions. I’ve got four degrees and none of them taught me how to be emotionally fit. None of them taught me how to have emotions. Anxiety is an emotional issue and once you can identify, communicate, and switch your feelings, you can control your emotions. Whether it’s rejection, loneliness, confusion, or stress, you can begin to switch your emotion inside your body.
Here’s the key thing: anxiety and other strong emotional issues are feelings. Feelings aren’t real. They’re not truth. They just are. You could feel fat and weigh less than you did yesterday. You could feel rich and be broke. Feelings are not truth and feelings are not facts. Feelings are feelings. They’re just little things you’re experiencing as you’re going through your day. They need to be acknowledged, owned, and processed, but they are not facts at all. Therefore, anxiety is not a fact; it is a feeling. Now you may be having the feelings of anxiety and that is a fact that you’re having it. I understand that. Being emotionally fit can really help you. Today, I’m taking something out of a chapter towards the end of my book, but I encourage you to get “Emotional Fitness.” You can go to loveandsextoday.com, click the book icon and find it there.
So, what are we going do? You’re going to need pen and paper today because I’m going to give you steps to do this after the podcast. I can tell you, this can be life changing. I had a lady just do this just the other day and her life was changed. She was able to get in touch with a feeling she was really hiding from and was able to expand it, express it, and switch it. When she was able to switch it, she felt so empowered that she doesn’t have to feel trapped when she’s feeling this way. If you’re anxious, you feel trapped. You don’t know what to do. It can become overwhelming and your whole system shuts down.
Emotions are visceral. They’re stored throughout your body. I believe they could be in your fascia (surface level) system, but not in your brain. So many people try to treat and deal with anxiety as if it’s a cognitive disorientation, through a cognitive process. It’s not cognitive. It’s emotive. It’s lightning fast and you have to be able to deal with it in the emotive and visceral system, as opposed to the cognitive system.
Here is the emotional fitness grid. We’re talking about anxiety, but if you’re dealing with other strong feelings this might help you as well. You might have negative feelings when someone is giving you criticism, or maybe you feel overwhelmed or defensive. Today we are dealing with anxiety, but the emotional fitness grid can help you handle any emotion.
Number one: the first thing that I want you to do is write out these two sentences, “I feel anxious when…” And I want that example to be in your present tense. This can be important for where we’re going. So take your time, maybe pause and write that down. The next thing I want you to write down is, “I first remember feeling anxious when….” This is going to be as a child or adolescent. I want you to tap into something in the past. All we’re doing here is giving you a grid to know where this file is located.
Number two: I want you to read them out loud. Just read your two sentences out loud. Maybe you feel anxious when you’re meeting a new person or you first remember feeling anxious when you knew your rich uncle was coming over for Christmas and you were told to be on your best behavior. I don’t know what you’re examples might be, but I’ve heard many of them. You want to make sure they’re yours and they’re real, not fictitious. They’re real experiences that you’ve had. So number one, write it out. Number two, read it out loud.
Number three: you’re going to need to know what a mime is. A mime is when you put your body in a position to kind reflect an emotion or state of being. There used to be professional mimes. We don’t see them anymore in the states. Miming is simply putting your body into a position. So I want you to mime anxiety. I literally want you to put your body in a position where you feel anxious. You might be holding your fist or you might be shaking your arms, but I want you to feel it through your whole body.
You’re going to do this three times for 15 seconds. So get out your phone or watch and mime anxiety for 15 seconds. As you’re holding it, let yourself feel anxiety. Anxiety is not going to hurt you. It’s just a feeling. It’s going to pass through you. You’ve felt anxious thousands of times and every time you got over it. Feelings are just energy going through you. It passes through. So you hold that anxiety in your body for 15 seconds, you take a break for about five or ten seconds. Do three sets of 15 seconds.
The next thing you’re going to do is “muscle up.” “Muscle up” is where you take that pained, anxious feeling and hold it for 15 seconds the first time, 30 seconds the second time, 45 seconds the third time, and one minute the fourth time. So you’re holding anxiety for 15 seconds, you take a break. Then you go longer. As you go into that 30 seconds, you want to let your muscles, organs, heart, soul, and spirit feel the anxiety. Let yourself be anxious. Expand it and let it go into your whole being.
I want you to go back and do this process with the opposing feeling. So let’s say, “calm.” I want you to write out your two sentences, “I feel calm when….” “I first remember feeling calm when…” I feel calm when I see my hammock out at the house, on the mountain, in Colorado. It’s beautiful, being in the hammock. I first remember feeling calm when I was a kid and we were making shapes out of clouds and we were lying in a very lush field of grass in Pennsylvania. I was probably seven or eight.
Now you’re going to mime calm. You’re going to really let yourself be calm. Just let yourself go into it. Do that for 15 seconds, take a break. Another 15 seconds, take a break. Another 15 seconds, take a break. Then you’re going to “muscle up:” 15, 30, 45, a minute. You should be able to go where calm is in your muscles and in your being. You’re literally being calm and you’re expanding calm. You can expand and retract emotions. Once you get management of your feelings, it’s amazing. When you become emotionally fit, you can actually master your feelings. You can actually take a step and feel this feeling, take another step and feel this feeling. You can choose what feeling, but we’re not there yet.
If anxiety is a primary thing you’re dealing with, you’re going to want to do this exercise every single day for a couple weeks. Now what you’re going to do is switch. So for 15 seconds, you’re going to go into anxiety really deeply, then you’re going to switch right into calm without a break. You should repeat this three times.
You’re going to find where your switch happens. It’s usually somewhere between the chest and the belly button. You’ll find your switch when you can actually switch anxiety to calm, calm to anxiety, and back and forth at will. And once you realize that you can actually master a feeling, (in this case we’re talking about anxiety, but it could be other feelings), and that you can actually switch it at will, you’re going to feel more in control and more confident emotionally. So when you’re feeling anxiety you can actually switch to calm. It works. I use these fantastic principles in my own life and you can do this anywhere, anytime.
Anxiety is a big feeling, and if this is really where you’re struggling, you want to do all of this exercise. Read both of your sentences out loud for anxiety and calm, go into your mime and muscle up on anxiety, go into your mime and muscle up on calm, and then do your switch. Do that every day, maybe once or twice a day for about two weeks. You will begin to feel like you are the master of anxiety. You won’t fear when your having anxiety because it’s just a feeling and you’ve learned how to harness it and switch it. You can go, “Oh, I’m starting to feel anxious. I don’t want to choose that, so let me choose calm.” Literally, in seconds, you can choose to be calm. Choose to be in your own body. Choose to be clear-headed. That is a gift you give to yourself.
This is a tool. If you work it, you get the results. In my live of helping people every day, I give tools and then it’s up to you to use them with discipline, practicing them until they become part of your life. This emotional fit tool can totally change your life if you’re dealing with anxiety. You can do this exercise even if you’re on medication. This is not going to hurt you. I would recommend you do this and once you get mastery, talk to your doctor about your medicine issues. Some things can be managed without medicine once you learn the skill. There might be other factors, so talk to your psychiatrist if you’re taking anxiety medication. They’re the best to help you with that.
Share this with post with others. I will do other posts on other feelings as we continuing growing together. If you know someone who’s struggling with anxiety, please share this post with him or her. If they need to call our office and talk to our counseling center, our number is 719-278-3708. We are more than happy to talk with them and see if we can get them some help.
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