You struggle with anxiety, but you no longer want to hear the simple tips and tricks to “experience less anxiety”.
You are ready for the real, proven advice… so here it is:
I’ll explain how I overcame my anxiety disorder in just 15 minutes a day!
This is what anxiety feels like
Before I tell you the exact trigger that caused my first anxiety attack, I’m sure we both agree on the fact that the most annoying thing people can ask an anxious person is:
“So, what was the trigger?”
Sometimes there is NO TRIGGER and anxiety just happens, like the changing of the seasons… autumn just happens.
And because anxiety sometimes happens without a trigger, it leaves you clueless where the heck all these feelings so suddenly came from.
I never was an anxious person, and you were neither. When you and I were born, we were so so happy and ALIVE… without a long list of fears or negativity that kept us small.
But we both encountered many difficult things in life that we had to overcome… and sometimes it was so difficult that we bought into our smallness and got sad or created a negative outlook on life.
So, Wouter… what’s your point?
Let me ask you this:
“Do you believe the sun still shines if the clouds block the sun from shining?”
Yes you do, even though you start to question that as soon as you visit the Netherlands, where I live.
Likewise, you are not an anxious person. Your inner sun is always shining, but you have to remove the clouds to see the sun again.
“Okay, that makes sense… but how do I accomplish that?“
Well, you can either let the wind carry them away… but because the earth is round they’ll come back, stronger than ever before… or you can make it rain.
And that means letting your feelings come up, when they want to come up. Also, understand that all feelings are okay and should be felt.
The moment I learned this I was quite scared, to be honest. I was so used to suppressing my feelings, that letting my feelings come up felt very creepy!
When I felt fear, I pushed it away.
When I felt scared, I pushed it away…
And when I was tired, I pushed it away… because I am a man…
and I don’t have feelings, right?
And because we do this so often, we’ve repressed so much emotional energy, that we become pressure cookers who can explode every time a harmless trigger shows up… because we have to discharge.
Emotion literally means energy in motion and if we don’t let it out when it has to… it gets stuck in our body. And then it becomes so much energy that our sympathetic nervous system becomes very sensitive to more stress. It’s the moment we become anxious.
Okay, I learned so much already… what should I do to prevent my anxiety from happening again?
Let me explain.
Understand that all feelings are OK
I hope you now understand that all feelings are OK and should be felt; whether it is joy or anxiety.
And if you can’t give a label to what you’re feeling, that’s fine as well… because you don’t need to label everything you feel.
Previously when I had feelings of anxiety, I said to myself: why am I feeling this? It makes no sense?!” To then push the feeling away once again… only to realize it came back more intense.
This article will show you how you can respond correctly to your anxious feelings.
Actually, anxiety is like a 3-month-old baby who keeps crying at random times. If you ignore the baby every time it cries, it will only cry louder… you have to be compassionate to it, listen to it, show it love and take care of its needs…
And when you do… the baby stops crying, which is the same with anxiety, because the energy behind your anxiety fades away if you let it come up. All emotions go away when you let them run their course… and that is what I mean by letting it rain.
How to let feelings come up?
And I can read your face: when do I do all this emotional stuff?
Do you really want me to run to the toilet at work with my sandwich in my hand to have an emotional breakdown?
No of course not… the following metaphor from author Brianna Wiest explains it best.
“Your emotions are like the notifications on your phone. When you check them a notification shows up, you can never get things done in life. But when you ignore them forever, you’ll be overwhelmed by a 100.000 notifications the moment you grab your phone. The key is to check in a few times a day and let things come up.”Brianna Wiest
Every day I sit with myself for 15 minutes and just stare… I let all my feelings come up and say to myself that whatever I feel is OK.
Sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh and whatever comes up is what I have to feel… until it fades away.
So when you do this today or tomorrow, try to think about what you get sad about, feel scared about or feel frustrated about… to let it slowly come up.
People always say to me: “God, you have so many breakdowns.”
But I let my feelings come up to let them out, instead of suppressing them, what I used to do.
I know it seems they’re more mentally stable than me, but it’s the other way around, because I feel so much lighter after letting my emotions come up. Just doing this helps a lot in making your body less sensitive to stress.
Use this tool to overcome anxiety fast
When I understood that all feelings were OK and that I should check in more often… I still felt lots of anxiety.
Do you know why?
Because I’ve been building lots of highways to the anxious side of my brain. The part of my brain that was responsible for my anxiety, fears and anger. Because the longer you’re anxious, the stronger those neural pathways become.
A big part of overcoming anxiety is building more highways to the sunny part of your brain instead.
Dutch people are known for taking the car to drive to their favourite holiday destination… and the more roads we have to the sunny countries, like Spain and Italy, the faster we can get there.
And to do so, I found great value in practising gratitude a few times a day.
Especially the moment when I wake up in the morning. It is the moment I practice gratitude for a few minutes.
Whether it was someone who smiled at me, my health, my favourite coffee or the love I felt when I cuddled my dog.
Even if you’re anxious and find it difficult to feel gratitude, still do it, because you’re building your highways to the opposite side of anxiety.
I don’t know if you’ve watched Harry Potter, but your negative thoughts are like Dementors who try to suck the life out of you… and practising gratitude is like the spell that makes the Dementors go away.
Just a small thing to be grateful for is enough to overcome your inner dementors… and that thing even doesn’t have to be real.
Expose yourself to triggers
And when you’re grateful more often, you can start to expose yourself to more of your triggers that caused you anxiety. Slowly.
Exposing yourself to triggers helps to show your mind that the trigger isn’t dangerous at all. And when you do this for long periods of time, you can completely rewire your brain to no longer see the trigger as something dangerous.
I promised to tell you about the trigger of my first panic attack: it was a face mask.
Quite innocent, but it was the trigger that caused all my suppressed COVID fears to come up all at the same time.
Say to yourself that you’ll be OK and give yourself the time to discharge. You suppressed your emotions for months or years, so it’s a lot of energy that has to come up.
Let it out and be compassionate to yourself.
To help you with responding the right way to your anxiety, download my FREE Guide where I teach you the exact framework I teach my paid clients.
I can tell you that being anxious and getting my first panic attack were the scariest things that ever happened to me… but I’m grateful for the fact that they happened to me, because in those painful moments were the lessons I had to learn.
I experienced the scariest parts of myself and thought things would never be the same again. I thought joy, happiness, love and warmth were gone, for good… but that actually wasn’t the case.
When I started to realize that all feelings are okay, that they had to come up, and understood the power of practising gratitude, I became someone different.
I have to say that I am sometimes still scared of becoming anxious again… but at least I now know that the sun always shines, no matter what.
If you want to take the next step and want to free yourself from anxiety, then watch my FREE Masterclass to learn the top 3 mistakes anxious people make and what to do instead.