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Ep #14: Overcoming Anxiety

One of the most common issues that I get asked about on regular basis is anxiety. As a matter of fact, majority of the emails I get are based around this topic. I’ve been dealing with anxiety my whole life, ever since I was very young. For the bigger part of my life it would go “untreated,” until I finally discovered the tools for dealing with this beast.

On this week’s episode, we are getting into some of the tools and techniques that will help you deal with anxiety in the best way possible. You will learn that anxiety itself is absolutely normal – the problem lies in how we react to it.  Tune in for some actionable advice for changing your relationship with anxiety and taking control of your life.

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What You will discover

  • What anxiety is and why we experience it.
  • How anxiety can serve us instead of paralyzing us.
  • How you can counteract anxiety as soon as you start feeling it.
  • The four choices we have in dealing with anxiety and which one serves us best.
  • The steps you can take to execute that powerful choice.
  • The breathing technique that help reduce the feelings of anxiety.

Featured on the show

Get the Full Episode Transcript:

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Life Coach School podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Hey everybody what’s up? I’m so excited today; we’re getting ready to drive down to Santa Barbara where we are going to check out the Four Sessions Hotel and the surrounding activities there. Because in March of this year, we’re going to do our master mind for the life coach school and all of the certified coaches that have gone through the school in Santa Barbara and so we wanted to check out the hotel. I have reserved a room there that is ocean front, they tell me. If you’re anything like me, being in a conference room all day is not my idea of a perfect day, so I want to make it more of a perfect day and I thought well an ocean front room with a balcony, a conference room that has a veranda so that’s what we were heading out to do today.

Before I left I wanted to record this podcast for you because after that we’re heading to Montana for a huge family vacation with my extended family for a week. I cannot wait. Anyway I hope your summer is going amazingly well. Today I’m going to talk to you about anxiety. Yeah we can’t wait, I am … I would say that the majority of the emails I get from people and a lot of the coaching I do is based around anxiety. It is something that most of us deal with on a pretty regular basis. I know for me personally I deal with anxiety and I have deal with it all of my life pretty consistently.

I can remember when I was I would say 14 I would wake up in the morning and immediately have a pit of anxiety in my stomach and it would go untreated let’s say throughout the day and I still now wake up many days with anxiety that I have to process and work through. I’m really glad that I have the tools that I have and I know that some of you listening may not have some of these tools and may have some questions about how you can deal with anxiety better. We’re going to talk about how to overcome it, and when I say overcome it I don’t want you to misunderstand that you overcome it one time and then you never deal with anxiety again. It’s not the case.

Anxiety is a normal part in my opinion of being alive, we have evolved to this place because of anxiety it has served us well. We just need I believe to adapt it. First let’s talk about what it is. The way that I describe anxiety is it’s a vibration which means it’s a feeling right, so one word feeling if you’re thinking about the coaching model that we use at the life coach school. That F line, the feeling line, would be anxiety. It’s a feeling of generalized worry fear apprehension on nervousness. I often times call it a cover emotion because it’s very vague and unspecific and it thrives on that vagueness.

The reason why is … Anxiety has served us well when we really needed to be on alert when we were evolving as humans. We needed anxiety so we could, react quickly and we could pay attention to that and to our senses and what was going on. Now it’s not something that we necessarily need but we’re still having that same response to it. I think knowing that anxiety has been something that has served us and got us this far, and that it queues us up for survival has been really helpful for me. A lot of times what happens is, we feel anxiety and we think oh my gosh something is wrong with me I shouldn’t feel this all the time, I don’t want even to know how anxious I am all the time.

How I’m just a little scared cat or whatever. No, the reason why you have evolved, the reason why your ancestors have evolved is because of anxiety, that feeling chewed you up and got you here literally. When you feel anxiety it’s like huh there it is, that emotion that has served me so well in my life. Now living in our suburb neighborhoods as we do now, it doesn’t serve us so well, but that does not mean that it’s not natural or normal to be experiencing it. That in and of itself I think can be a huge relief for us is just to know oh this part of my humanness.

Now anxiety in and of itself is harmless, it’s our reaction and our resistance to it that causes problems. That is not just semantics; I want you guys to really think about this because it’s a game changer. Anxiety does not mean to be eliminated because anxiety in and of itself is not the issue; it’s our resistance and our reaction to anxiety that causes us problems. Anxiety in and of itself is just a vibration, like if you were to sit here … I often talk about how it’d be cool if I could just inject certain emotions into people and like you knew they were coming. If we were sitting here and I could say to you okay dude I’m going to inject some anxiety into you and I want you to tell me what it’s like, just chill there and just feel it.

Well that in and of itself wouldn’t be true anxiety because you wouldn’t be resisting it and you wouldn’t and you wouldn’t be reacting you would just be allowing it right. You know it’s coming you would be like oh what is this like I’m going to experience it. I think what you would notice is that it’s uncomfortable. Anxiety is not a joy ride, it’s not intended to be, it’s … I think this emotion has evolved to wake us up, get us going, fight or flight let’s rock on. That’s what it’s there for; it’s not supposed to be something that lows us into a sense of security that’s not the purpose of that emotion.

It’s uncomfortable but what we can remember that now when we feel anxiety it does not mean we are in danger okay. Anxiety has typically meant many times throughout evolution that we are in danger, but now it doesn’t. It’s normal, it’s something that we have and we are adapting it and evolving into another way of using anxiety, but we’re not there yet, we’re still in that fight or flight response. When we have anxiety we recognize that that’s what that emotion has been used for and that we don’t need to react to it that way, that’s a huge difference okay. When you experience it in modern day, we’re having high levels of survival anxiety over pleasing our boss, high levels or survival anxiety over our kids’ grades and gaining a few pounds.

I mean we are having this response to things that hardly mean danger and hardly mean life or death right. Think about this … I mean this is a really important distinction, so typically in the past when we have felt anxiety it has meant danger. Now think about how you need to react to anger, you need to fight, so you need to get all tensed up, get ready, get those fists going. You need to flight which means you need to get tensed up, get ready to run, or you need to freeze which is get tensed up and don’t move a muscle. That’s how we typically react to danger, that’s how we typically react to anxiety.

In modern day anxiety it doesn’t mean danger typically, there so few times when we’re being attacked literally, by someone that’s trying to kill us and most of us will go our whole lives and never have that experience. Yet when we feel anxiety we’re still having that same danger reaction, we’re still tensing ourselves up, we’re still getting ready to fight, we’re getting ready to resist we’re getting ready to go to battle. In truth the exact opposite reaction is require now, the exact opposite. Now anxiety is just an uncomfortable emotion and how do you deal when you’re uncomfortable, what the best way to deal when you’re uncomfortable?

Get comfortable, relax, chill, breath the exact opposite. What most of us are doing when we feel anxiety is increasing our tension, increasing our anxiety, going into that fight or flight mode, resisting, reacting to it, really kind of hefting it up. We get tricked into doing that in a way that perpetuates it. If we can have anxiety, have that experience of anxiety and remember that this is an uncomfortable emotion, how can I treat discomfort, I need to treat it by calming myself down, getting myself comfortable, breathing and connecting, not fighting or flighting okay.

That is huge because when we start worrying about the fact that we’re feeling anxiety it’s like putting gas on a fire, it really is. We’re adding worry to our already interest emotion okay. We need to go in the complete other direction. Okay I might hear you saying right now, okay great that makes sense, I don’t want to tense up and increase more anxiety and increase more adrenaline and go into fight mode. I want to start being able to accept my anxiety relax into it and allow it, how do I do it. I’m going to tell you, the first thing you need to do and this is not, you can’t skip the step.

The first thing you need to do is recognize and name it, that ion and of itself is huge, it’s very powerful because anxiety thrives on the vagueness and it thrives on that increasing tension. If when you feel anxiety you say oh I am feeling vague anxiety or I am feeling survival anxiety, and you recognize it. That process of even naming it and being able to separate yourself enough to label it and recognize it is the first step. Once you recognize that you’re feeling anxious there are four options you have at that point. The first option is to resist it or fight it and this is what I would say most of us do.

We resist the feeling, we push it away, we fight against it, we get mad at ourselves for having it. We get really tense about it and what of course that does is it increases it. It’s like I want you to imagine that someone is coming at you to fight you, they’re starting a verbal disagreement with you and they‘re yelling at you. I want you to imagine yelling back and screaming back and throwing some punches, you have just thrown gasoline onto a fire. You have now taken one person that’s fighting and made it two people that’s fighting that they’re feeding the energy.

Now if that same person came up to you and was yelling and screaming and you sat in Lotus and just smiled at them you have completely dissipated your side, you have allowed them to keep yelling, you’re not trying to yell at them to stop yelling right. You have accepted it and just stayed at that moment. Now I’m not suggesting that that’s how you handle people yelling at you, I’m just using it as an example of how you can either increase the tension in a situation and how you can deal with your own anxiety. If you see your anxiety as something coming at you and you want to react to it, you’re going to be in a battle with yourself.

Okay so that’s your first choice. The second choice you have is to react to it, the first one was to resist or fight it, the second one is to react to it. Now many of us do this right, so we start feeling anxious, we start rushing around, we start yelling at people, we start trying to get things done, we start trying to get things done, we start trying to stay up too late. It’s like we are running with it, we’re trying to act it out. You’ve seen people that are really anxious, that are acting it out and that’s like that flight thing, it’s like we’re increasing it and kind of fueling it by reacting to it.

The third option is avoiding it, and with all my work that I’ve done with my wait lose clients that is their reaction of choice usually is to avoid it. If the first one is resisting it, the second one is reacting to it and acting it out, the third one is avoiding it, it’s almost like pretending it’s not there, let’s ignore the fact that I’m feeling anxious right now and I’ll eat instead. It’s not the same for everyone, other people drink alcohol to avoid it other people work to work to avoid other people do other internet things to avoid it. It’s one of those things that by pretending it’s not there, it becomes like this big sense of danger all the time.

I used to do this, so I used to be emotional over eater all the time. What would notice is that whenever I let that avoiding guard down it was almost like it attacked me. I’d be like oh my God, what’s happening. I would have this vague sense that something was really wrong, like always under the surface but I couldn’t remember what it was, what is really wrong, because I wasn’t paying any attention to it. Then what happened was I started just over eating all the time and then I could say oh the reason why I’m feeling this is because I’m overweight.

Then I created this whole sub life where I could make sense of my anxiety and say the reason I’m anxious is because I’m overweight, the reason I’m anxious is because I can’t stop eating, I feel so out of control It’s like took all of that danger and gave it an explanation, by creating this whole sub life of my weight. Avoiding it feels like it’s working in the moment, it really does. It feels like eating a cake is solving anxiety for that moment because it does distract us, it does take us onto a whole different place for a moment. As soon as we stop actively avoiding it comes back up. Okay so the first option is we can resist or fight it, the second option is we can react to it and act it out.

The third option is we can avoid it. Then there’s another option and this is the option I really want to encourage you to try. We can actively accept it. Now I use the word actively because it’s really important that you don’t see acceptance as giving up. Again when I’m dealing with my weight loss clients, I teach them you have to, it’s not negotiable, you have to accept your body the way it is in this moment before you can ever change it. When I say that to clients they often say to me, well that’s giving up, if I accept this body I won’t change it. I remind them no, of course the exact opposite is true, when you accept something and own something that’s when you have all the power to change it.

By using the word actively accepting, it’s something that requires you to go to work. It’s not something that you can just do passively. It requires that you’re willing to quietly witness it and observe it. They’ve done all these studies where they talk about how when the act of observing something changes it. I find that so fascinating that when we observe something, the thing that we’re observing because it’s being observed changes. I have seen this over and over in my own life. When I can go to that watcher place, when I can go to that observer place and watch myself think or watch myself feel, I notice that I am not only the person feeling it, I’m not only the person thinking it, I’m able to align with that part of me that has nothing to do with my brain.

By observing our own anxiety it gives us a moment of relief and a moment of perspective. Now I want you to think about it this way, if I allow you to do something, just think about the word allow. I am going to allow you to do something, it immediately give me authority over it. I feel empowered because I’m allowing it that is the same with our emotion. You think about when we’re little kids like our parents allow us to do things. As someone who’s feeling anxiety if I allow the anxiety, I all of a sudden a sense of authority and a sense of control and even sometimes a sense of mastery.

It doesn’t make the anxiety go away and in fact it’s kind of the opposite, I’m allowing it. As soon as I allow it my sense of control comes back. Think about that when you’re feeling anxious can you allow it instead of resisting it, instead of reacting to it, instead of avoiding it. The word that I like to use with myself is stay and let it be, stay let it be. When you allow anxiety you said that it’s quite harmless, it buzzes around. It’s one of those vibrations that buzzes around and the thoughts are going wild in your brain. When you stay with it and you let it be that’s all it is, it’s just a vibration.

It pretends to be necessary, it pretends that there’s danger, it pretends that we need to fight it or flight or freeze. In reality we can just stay and let it be okay. Let’s talk about some technics that I have for actively accepting and the first thing you’re really going to do is recognize when you’re feeling anxious. Then you’re going to remind yourself that you have four choices and you can notice which choice you’re making, oh I’m resisting it, oh I’m reacting to it,, oh I’m avoiding it that’s what I’m eating all this food or drinking all this wine or beer or whatever and oh I’m really into that actively accepting it, I can feel the consciousness, I can feel that I’m uncomfortable.

There seems to be this idea that we should be comfortable all the time. I don’t think that’s true. I think that probably half of our life is going to be a total disaster and I don’t know why I feel so much relief when I think that. Like half the things I do in my life are going to be mistakes, and that’s okay and half of the emotions I’m going to feel in my life are going to be uncomfortable and negative and that’s okay that’s what it means to be a human being. I’ve really been telling myself this a lot lately and I can’t even tell you how much peace it gives me. Knowing that I’m uncomfortable with anxiety and knowing that it’s part of my human experience and it’s actually been one of those emotions that has got me and my ancestors to stay alive this long.

I can start changing my relationship with anxiety and I can see that yes it’s no longer as useful as it used to be, but it’s still here and it’s still part of me and if I know it and understand it, it doesn’t have to overtake my life and I don’t have to react to it, resist it or avoid it. First and foremost how to actively accept something, remind yourself nothing has gone wrong it’s just anxiety. You’re going to accept it, but that doesn’t mean you’re giving up, it means you’re taking your power back. Then you’re going to remember that thoughts cause it. You go back to some of the earlier episodes which I hope you’ll listen to if you’re new to this podcast. I talk about how our thoughts create our feelings.

Whenever we’re feeling anxious it’s because we’re having a thought. Remember the example of if you’re sitting at home alone and you here a noise outside. The noise in and of itself doesn’t case you anxiety it’s your thought about it; there is somebody in a black mask outside my door. That thought in and of itself is causing the anxiety. Let’s say there is somebody in a black mask outside your door and you see them, they still aren’t causing you to feel anxious it’s your thought that you’re going to die that’s causing you to feel anxious. It’s really important to remember.

When you’re feeling anxious and you remind yourself the reason I’m feeling anxious is because of what I’m thinking, then you can be curious about what you’re thinking and the way that I like to deal with this especially when I’m really anxious and I feel myself really tempted to fight or flight I sit down and I just write all my thoughts down. So many times what’s going on in there is crazy town. Seriously this is what we’re thinking today. I have thoughts that are so illogical they making no sense, but I just let them go, and I just write. What most often I notice is of course you’re feeling anxious Brooke of course this is what you’re feeling because look at these thoughts.

These thoughts, if anyone thought them would feel anxious. These thoughts are not reality, these thoughts are not facts these thoughts are choices that you’re choosing. I don’t necessarily try immediately change those thoughts and go to happy land. I just notice this is the cause of my anxiety. When you understand the cause of something you are 20 million times closer to relieving any emotion that you’re having than if you are trying to change it and fight it and ignore it. Okay so first thing write down all your thoughts and get them out of your head and on to a piece of paper and then remind yourself the reason why I’m feeling anxious is because I’m thinking all these thoughts and that’s okay.

Don’t try and change it, don’t get mad at yourself up for your thoughts, it’s not useful. Just look at the thoughts and be like I get it and let it just be, let yourself just understand. If you’re in a hurry to get out of anxiety is because you aren’t allowing it, you’re afraid of feeling it and that is not useful. The better you are at allowing it and feeling it, the easier it will be to move through it okay. The next thing that I want to recommend, the first thing is do that thought download. The next thing I want to recommend is that you actively and specifically describe anxiety in its most factual form.

The way that I want to give you the visual on this on this, I used to do this a lot in my classes. I used to say I want you to imagine that there’s an alien a cute little friendly alien that’s coming down from the land of planets that we don’t understand. Imagine that you have this cute little alien and they don’t feel emotion, they don’t experience emotion, they don’t even know what an emotion is. You’re trying to describe to them exactly what anxiety feels like. You’re not just going to describe as oh my gosh it’s horrible. You’re going to describe it as what it feels like in your body, where exactly do you feel it, what exactly does it feel like.

The more specific you can be the better, and you can start with the bottom of your body, start with your toes, go to your feet, go to your chins, go to your quads. Do you feel it in those places? If you do where exactly, do you feel it in your hips, do you feel it in your chest, do you feel it in your shoulders? Yes if you do feel it in your shoulders what exactly does it feel like in your shoulders, where do you feel it? The more specific that you can describe it the better, it gets you out of it, it gets you observing and it gets you describing it. I will tell you when you describe it on paper and then read the description …

Well, at least for me I was like why in the world I’m I doing so many things to avoid this, this is not that big of a deal, it’s just a vibration. When I allow it, when I pay attention to it it’s not big of a deal really it’s not. It’s when I react to it, when I avoid it, when I resist it that it becomes much bigger of a deal. Okay so first thing you can do is that thought download, next thing you do is describe it in detail as if you’re describing an emotion for someone that had no idea what it was. The next I’d like to do and I’ve done this with a lot of my clients with really good success, is what I call playing with anxiety.

A lot of times when we’re feeling anxious, especially I have a lot of clients that have panic attacks and I personally have had a panic attack. I breathed in a thing like a like a little float-y thing that happens in the spring from the trees that have like a little thorn in it, and it got caught in my windpipe and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had a panic attack I called 911, I was totally freaking out I thought I was choking. What I realize when I look back on it is that my thoughts really perpetuated this idea that I was dying, I really thought that I was dying, which of course made it harder to breathe and the more I panicked the less I could breathe.

I know how scary that is, I know how completely uncontrollable that feels. I also know how I created so much of that situation with my thinking. At that time I didn’t realize I’ve done some research since, I didn’t realize that as long as you can get a little bit of air in you’re not going to die okay. When you die is when you get a chunk of something that’s completely blocking your windpipe or your airway and you can’t get any air and that’s when you pass out and could possibly die. I was still getting a little bit of air, had I known that, as long as I’m getting a little bit of air I’m going to be okay.

I also learned that when you cough it’s like 800 miles an hour and it can pretty much blow anything out of there if you allow yourself to cough. What I didn’t realize is this little thing that had gone into my windpipe had a thorn on it, so it was caught in my windpipe, that’s why I wasn’t able to cough it out, because it was just a little wispy thing. We’d laugh about it, I was with one my girlfriends, she’s like you’re the strongest person I know, it would be horrible if that little thing kills you. I can see how my thoughts of thinking I’m going to die and thinking no one can save and the hamlet is not going to work on something like this really perpetuated that.

One of the things that I like to do with clients before they’re on a full on panic attack right, but when they’re starting to feel anxious and this is for my clients that have a lot of anxiety all the time is we give them worry time, anxiety time and you can delegate it to ten minutes where you just allow yourself to feel anxious. You allow yourself to go to the worst case scenario. One of the things that I encourage my clients to do is to increase their anxiety during this time. Can you make the anxiety bigger? Now, this is so counterintuitive because if you are someone that resists your anxiety and that’s what I was doing during my panic attack which of course made it worse, resisting, resisting makes you have a panic attack literally. If you practice increasing your anxiety, what it does is it lets you get a hold of it.

It lets you see that you are in the control of it because if you can increase it, you can also decrease it. By purposely sitting down and playing with it, by increasing it and then decreasing it, and then increasing it and decreasing it, it is such an empowering process. It also helps because if you’re feeling anxious throughout the day, you could say, okay, I have my anxiety time or I'm going to allow myself to feel anxious. That’s coming up in a couple hours. I'm going to delegate this to that time, right? I'm going allow it to come up.

I know it's going to come up. In the meantime, I'm going to finish cooking dinner, right? I don’t have to resist it because I know that I can feel it. By having that time to experience the anxiety fully, you’re in the process of authority because you’re allowing it. You’re in control of it because you’re increasing it and practice decreasing it, and playing with it, and experiencing it, okay? That’s something that … I've had clients do for just ten minutes a day. That has been unbelievably helpful for them to do.

Increasing it, decreasing it, okay? Then the last thing and I know that this is probably the most common and most obvious is breathing. When I was having my panic attack, if I would have relaxed, and allowed myself to breathe in the air that I could breathe in, it would have been a completely different experience for me because I would have been able to relax my windpipe and get in a lot of more air in than I was getting because I was panicking, because I was freaking out and resisting it and reacting to my anxiety.

I had much less air. I was going into fight and flight, which of course is short breathes, run, you’re going to die, right? Versus, if you’re uncomfortable right now, just relax. It's going to be fine. You’re going to live. Breathe. You have something in your windpipe but it's not preventing you from breathing. It just feels like it is. Just relax and just breathe. That could have brought me to this place where I still would have been anxious, but I would have been able to breathe.

Now I was researching for this podcast about anxiety and about breathing techniques. I'm a yogi. I love yoga and we spend a lot of time learning how to breathe in yoga which is amazing and very calming. Of course I forget all of it when I was choking on my dandelion. I wanted to see like how do other people deal with breathing and use breathing when it comes to anxiety. When someone tells you just to breathe, it's very non-descript. Some of the techniques that I learned about, that I think are really helpful are these: the first one is, when you’re feeling super anxious, when you have a lot of anxiety because you’ve been resisting and reacting to it, it's important to remember to breathe into your belly.

One of the things you can do, just put your hand on your belly and as you breathe in, you push your belly out, so you can feel your belly full of air. Then you exhale. One of the pieces of research that I read is that when people are having panic attacks, they are focusing on exhaling, which I thought was really fascinating because, when I was having my panic attack, I was just trying to suck in the air. I need air. The issue isn’t in the inhale. The issue is in the exhale and if when you’re having a panic attack or when you’re feeling really anxious, if you focus on slowly exhaling all of your air, getting all of the stale air out of your body, then the inhale becomes much easier.

I thought that was amazing and I've actually been really working on that exhale every bit of air out. Then inhale into your belly. Put your hand on your belly. I think this is a great way of allowing, when you are for example, feeling anxious and you feel like you want to avoid it by eating, if instead you sit down and you exhale. Don’t even tell yourself to breathe. Just sit down and exhale ten times. Put your hand on your belly; fill it up with air and then exhale. Just focus on that piece of it ten times. That can blow your minds.

I would tell you that because you’re in the space of allowing, you’re connected, you’re increasing your consciousness with yourself and it's going to be uncomfortable. It's not like you’re going to be in this glorious, meditative state. Please don’t plan on that. I tell this to my clients all the time. Don’t say, “I want to stop overeating.” I say, “What do you think it would like when you stop overeating?” They all say, “Oh it’d be fantastic and wonderful and rainbows and daisies and beautiful and I’ll be thin.”

No. What happens when you stop overeating is you start feeling the negative emotion that you’re trying to avoid. Knowing that is really helpful. If I don’t overeat, I will instead be introduced to myself and to my negative emotion, and that is part of the process, because when I allow an emotion, I can metabolize that emotion. I can process it through. It doesn’t have to stay around, festering because I'm avoiding it. One of the best ways to do that is to sit down and exhale, allow the emotion and exhale it out.

Allow the emotion, and exhale it out. Give yourself ten breathes. Please remember, it would not be pleasant. It would not be enjoyable but you can do this. This is part of the process of tuning into yourself, of being connected with yourself, of being truly in control of your life and your emotions. Exhale it out and don’t expect yourself to feel amazing afterwards and don’t expect that that emotion would completely go away. Just know that you’ve owned it. You’ve accepted it and therefore you are in control.

Anxiety does not mean something has gone terribly wrong. Anxiety means that you are an evolved human being, that you are alive, okay? Anxiety is an emotion that most of us will experience on a regular basis. It is not a problem until we make it a problem by resisting it, by reacting to it or avoiding it. I really want to encourage you to actively accept it by writing down the thoughts causing it, describing it in detail, playing with it and breathing it. Can you breathe anxiety? Because if you allow yourself to feel the emotion, you will own it.

I would love to hear any of your experiences with anxiety and any of your experiences with using any of these techniques because, I would say this is the cornerstone of my coaching practice and what I teach is really learning how to process emotion and deal with emotion. You can go to the lifecoachschool.com/14. This is episode 14. You can go to that episode and in the comments, I reply to every single comment for all of my podcast. You can go there and tell me about what your experience is and let’s have a talk about it because I would love to know if you’re struggling with anxiety and how we can move you into allowing anxiety, so until next week, please allow it, talk to you then, bye.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School podcast. It would be incredibly awesome if you would take a moment to write a quick review on iTunes. For any questions, comments or coaching issues you’d like to hear on the show, please visit us at http://www.TheLifeCoachSchool.com.

47 Comments

  1. Hi Brooke, I’m so glad I found your podcast! I listen to your podcast as I drive to work, and it helps me get the day started right.

    This episode sounded a lot like stress, i.e., reactions to things in our lives, whereas I’ve always thought of anxiety as the next level up, i.e., general worry. I feel anxious throughout the day, but there is no single stressor. I do observe it, and I “know” it is unwarranted. But it still comes on, even if I’m not thinking about anything. Two things that help are exercise and sleep, which don’t really have to do with changing my thoughts.

    Full disclosure: I’ve long ago had past diagnoses of depression and bipolar disorder, and I’ve always been identified as an anxious person, even from childhood.

    With all that said, my question is, Do you think there’s a difference between stress/anxiety that’s a reaction to some trigger, versus general anxiety?

    As a total aside: I’d be curious to hear you talk about callings. For example, do you believe in callings–that is, that for each person, there is a certain vocation/life/purpose to be fulfilled? Is it something you’ve ever helped your clients with? How does one learn to identify them?

    I work in a profession that requires a lot of sacrifice but also promises a lot of prestige and financial reward. The problem is that I learned, too late, that I’m not interested in my job. At all. Which brings on a lot of stress, anxiety, etc. I know we can be happy in any moment, but at the same time, I often feel like I can’t last another day, let alone a week, or a year, where I am currently.

    Thanks again!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! Glad you are liking the podcast.

    I think your question is interesting. I think stress is more easily attributed to a circumstance, when really it is a thought. There seems to be a reason we can identify to explain our stress.

    When it comes to anxiety I think it’s because we are unaware of the thinking causing it. That vagueness.

    Whenever I feel anxious, if I take the time to pay attention, I can find the reason behind it. Which is always a thought or a collection of thinking.

    I do think that each person has multiple callings. Things they can choose to do that they are exceptionally good at doing and that they enjoy. I help clients with this all the time.

    I do believe we can be happy anywhere, but I don’t think that means we should be happy anywhere. I believe in trying different things to find the thing we love and then doing that.

    We do only have this one precious life…

    Brooke

  3. Hi Brooke!

    FIrst let me express my appreciation for your show and the help that it’s been already. Through the findings in your work, I have been able go down a different path in healing in regards to my weight. I have found Byron Katie’s work to be very amazing as well.

    I do have a suggestion for a future podcast, if you don’t mind. In this episode (#14), you briefly mentioned body acceptance. You expanded a bit to say that we have to accept our bodies for what they are right now. The episode was about anxiety, so you didn’t dwell too much on that, but this it sparked something in me that I wanted to work on, which I have been trying to do. But I have some to a stumbling block, since it seems so counterintuitive to accept something that seems like it’s not right. I know that it contradicts some beliefs that I hold on to, and I have to work on the validity of those beliefs, but I would very much like to hear an episode devoted to this subject.

    Thank you for your continued work and I wish you tremendous success with this podcast and your business. I myself have just launched a podcast about my own weight loss healing called Spell Weight Loss.

    Blessings to you!
    Beth

  4. Brooke, thanks for another great podcast. I love them! My meditation practice has also helped me immensely to have the presence of mind to PAUSE when the anxiety hits and see what is going on in my crazy thoughts rather than resisting it. I like your steps and will put them on my iPhone as a reminder.

    I have an app called “Transform your Life” by Cheri Huber, which has an awareness thought each day. Today’s was Marcus Aurelius, who said,

    “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

    Funny how slow we are at learning these things!

  5. Hi Shari-

    Loving that you have a meditation practice. Working on that one myself.

    I also really appreciate the quote you share. Brilliance.

    Brooke

  6. Hi Beth-

    Thank you so much for your suggestion. I do listen. Keep an eye out for Episode #18. I did that one for you!

    I will mention you so be on a lookout!

    xo
    Brooke

    1. Hi Brooke! Thank you so much for this! I just went through a roller coaster with my anxiety over these past few weeks. I have a fear of losing my mind and not being able to control it. I am currently in Scholars and love what you’re doing. The Calm App is freaking amazing and I have also been open and honest with my husband and my Mom. My Mom would be the cute alien who doesn’t understand it. That helped tremendously to be able to describe it and to tell her what it feels like so that she doesn’t react to it negatively. My brother has bipolar disorder and so I have hidden my anxiety because I felt so much shame about it. Thank you so much for all that you do for us in this world. Especially reminding us we’re not alone and we’re not damaged. I am a certified health and life coach and I am so hoping to meet you one day and thank you in person. I am also creating ways in my business to help others with their anxiety and the relationship that mothers have with their daughters and shame. I did all of your techniques this past round with it and it is so helpful. I say “uncomrtable and open for miracles.” That came to me in the depths of it and it reminds me of my mission to learn about myself and my emotions so that I can help others. I also went to a local vitamin shoppe and got magnesium, b complex, melatonin, chamomile tea, and a multivitamin that includes ashwagandha and theanine. I am so against antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs since I do not want to be numb to my experience and my brother is on them and totally numb which is sad. Anyway long story and I so appreciate you so much and send you massive love always!!

      With love and respect,
      Angela Forth

  7. hi brooke
    i experienced an anxiety attach/panic attack …just this past weekend
    and i just finished listening to your podcast. it’s made me aware how i am handling it my fear has such control of me, that it controls me. Its making me live a sheltered life.. taking a simple bike ride a certain distance from my house, inflicts anxiety in me I am ashamed,embarassed to express this to anyone,even myself but i chose to write it down (thought download) on this website for all to see

    so i am going to allow myself to play with this feeling and put myself in a place where anxiety will come up & i will choose to play with it (increasing, decreasing)

    not living the life i want to live is so exhausting
    i thank you for your wonderful podcasts. They are tools that i use in my every day life to become a better me

    rock on girl
    patricia

  8. Hi Brooke,

    Thank you for these invaluable podcasts, right out of the goodness of your heart!

    Anxiety is my most enormous battle in life. I SO wish I had known this many, many years ago! At age 58, when my anxiety had escalated to such a degree that it totally incapacitated my life, I finally sought help.
    I had been working on it for some time, recognising, allowing and identifying thoughts, and this worked well at first, but for some reason, suddenly, something cracked and went through the roof.
    The single most important sentence my therapist uttered, which was your very first too, was simply: it is JUST anxiety! IT IS JUST ANXIETY!
    It could be that those few words were the missing link!
    I repeat that over and over, now, at first sign of those terrible feelings, the sooner, the better; without fail I start to calm down, rather than the other way round.
    That and deep belly BREATHING!!

    I will be sharing far and wide.
    Thank you again!

  9. Hi Patricia,

    Thank you so much for sharing your truths here.

    There is something about taking shame (believing something is wrong with you) and sharing it with people who care that helps dissipate it. Shame likes to be hidden and fester.

    Notice what the thoughts are when you get on your bike and get a certain distance from your house. Ride to a place where you can sit and write. Have a look. They are just thoughts that create anxiety. They are very predictable. When I think this, I feel this. Interesting.

    Notice and take notes. Increase the awareness of your thinking and know that thoughts are not you. Nothing has gone wrong with you. Your brain is going to think thoughts. That’s its job. But you get to decide what thoughts to believe and which ones you want to react to.

    Keep your thoughts coming here.

    Brooke

  10. Hi Brooke,

    I listened to this episode today and it blew my mind! I’ve been living with this low buzz of background anxiety for SO LONG and now I can name it and observe it. What a power changer! My mind has been the unsupervised toddler for too long. Thank you for all that you do!

  11. Brooke,
    I listened to this podcast this afternoon as I was driving home from a very hard/ scary/ anxiety-producing set of meetings out of town. I am going through a really tough time as I do not know if i am going to get to keep my job/ career that I have been in for 20+ years over a stupid mistake I made. I alternate between positive thinking and paralyzing fear.

    When I got home I started to feel the fear/ anxiety again and tried your technique–sat on the couch and cried it out, then tried to talk to myself about what I was really feeling and I could not identify much physical component. So I decided to cook dinner instead and when the anxious thoughts tried to start I told them they missed their time on the couch and they can come back tomorrow.

    I felt better. I do feel better when I think positive framing thoughts about the future.

    thank you,
    Laura

  12. Hi Laura,

    I am so glad you are practicing feeling your feelings.

    I just want to offer that it is your thinking creating these feelings. I would for sure have a look inside your brain and see what your thoughts are about losing your job that are creating these feelings.

    You might not have any control over the outcome of your job, but you do have complete control over how you think about it and therefore feel about it. This is so important to know when you are in the middle of something that seems so out of your control.

    So first, find the thoughts that are scaring your and producing anxiety. Notice their effect. Then, and only then, consider changing them.

    I am happy to help more if you want to share your thoughts here.

    Brooke

  13. Thanks Brooke– I like that. Over the past few days I have started taking actions to get assistance and found a ton of supportive people. But, I also kinda woke up to the fact that although I live my career now, I DO have resources, money, education, etc to start anew if it goes that way. One night lying in bed feeling scared and getting up to check my investments helped me refocus on the truth.

    And as I let go of the panic thoughts it seems like more help comes in.

    Powerful stuff– thanks!

    I love your podcast– listened to Victim or Vulnerability today on the way home from church!

  14. Hi Brooke,

    I just want to thankyou for your wonderful podcast! I’m so happy to have found it. I’m learning so much from you, but the problem is actually incorporating to my life that’s the hard part. Anxiety is something I deal with everyday and it has become extreme panic disorder and even agoraphobia. I’m still struggling and trying to find as much help from it as possible. Again I appreciate you made your podcast and have it available for much needed purpose! I love all your talk so far , I just skip it to the anxiety and fear podcast first because it’s what I’m trying to find help to ease my everyday anxiety to take some positive action. I will be listening to more and adding more comments.
    P.s you are doing a great job, please keep working on it and continue your podcast! I hope it reach out to many more people that needed your assistance. Such powerful stuff you got there.

    Hugs, sarina

    1. Hey Sarina-

      Thank you so much! I am glad that the podcast is helping you. I know that applying is the challenging piece, but just keep practicing. It really does work if you keep at it and keep practicing.

      Promise that.

      Brooke

  15. Good morning Brooke,
    I am sooooo glad I discovered your podcast! I listen as I drive to/from work. I listen every chance I get! I recently listened to this session and WOW… I have recently discovered that I suffer from anxiety – I know what is causing it, but didn’t know how to deal with it. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack or something a few times when my anxiety was really at it’s peak. I had no idea that’s what I was experiencing. Once I figured it out, I wanted to know how to deal with it. I love this session so much, I’ve listened to it a couple of times! It has helped so much! Thank you!!

  16. Hi Brooke,
    Thanks so much for your amazing podcast.

    What is your view on medicating for anxiety? Do you believe that some people have levels of anxiety that require more than active acceptance? I myself don’t medicate (though a prescription was handed to me at 18 when I told a doctor I was anxious) but I’ve heard some compelling stories from people who know how to manage their minds but still choose to take something for anxiety. So I’m curious.

    Best,
    Amanda

  17. Hi Brooke,
    I’ve been listening to your podcasts from episode one for a while and they’ve really helped me. I have a problem I’m trying to solve surrounding self-sabotage at work. I find myself getting very impatient and angry at co-workers and it leads to me running away from the situation by finding a new job and trying to start over. I never used to be like this – I used to be energetic, enthusiastic and confident. I’m wondering if it’s due to the way in which I’m handling anxiety.
    I’m going to try and use these techniques to ‘breathe’ through the next crisis and see if I can’t handle it better and stop coming back with such an attitude.
    Thanks again – you’re a Godsend!
    mary

  18. Brooke, Carina and team,

    This podcast is something I have listened to more than a handful of times as I feel myself continuously needing the reminders that Brooke so clearly recommends. It’s the, “Sunday scaries” (my friends and I call it that) when I really allow myself to get all kinds of crazy thoughts in the mix before the start of the work week. I catch myself feeling anxious and blowing one feeling so out of hand, I rethink how I’m living my life and if my childhood self would be proud/disappointed – or, as I perceive, have I just stayed exactly the same. However far I let these thoughts go, I always need to revert back to these strategic techniques.

    I can’t thank you enough for this specific podcast and for pulling a podcast together each week! Your hard work is greatly appreciated, applied and looked forward to.

    Best,
    Hayley

    1. Hi Hayley,

      Thank you for your feedback and appreciation for the hard work that goes into every podcast each week. So glad to hear you have found this episode in particular so helpful!

      Carina

  19. Hi Brooke!
    So grateful for your passion, compassion, genius, and mostly, you. I found your podcast recently and am beyond grateful. I’ve lived with GAD all my life…which evolved from being raised by scarcity beliefs and lack mindsets. There was never enough and nothing was ever good enough. As a child, I was teased for how much I sweat, and even today, I sometimes experience body tremors. My young adult years were spent spiraling in the darkness of a ravaging eating disorder. I healed my relationship with food through self-care and simply not wanting to hurt my body anymore. I became pregnant and simply stopped the madness. However, the anxiety never left. I’ve tried medication, meditation, yoga, herbs, essential oils, journaling, counseling, coaching, you name it. I’ve done it! Well, I haven’t had any type of shock therapy or hypnosis. lol Yoga, meditation, and journaling have been effective for understanding and relating with my anxiety. However, the most effective strategy has been sharing my feelings through blogging and connecting with others. Telling the story is so healing and releases so much of the pain and shame we carry and hide inside. Helping others through my coaching practice and work with students has also been healing. I’ve been training counselors for about 20 years…and see what anxiety does to them. It’s as if scarcity is an epidemic! Since listening to your podcasts and your teaching of the self-coaching model, I’ve advanced, once again, in my understanding of anxiety and me, and what my clients and students struggle with. Training with and learning from you more is definitely on my bucket list! Thank you!

    1. Hi Kelli,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us.
      Brooke would be delighted to have you join a future training class!

      Carina

  20. Hi Brooke,

    I am LOVING the podcasts. I am trying to get myself through a lot of these issues, and your words make so much sense. Anxiety is one of my biggest issues, and after hearing this episode, I’m wondering this – what if you like your anxiety? I mean, I don’t like how it makes me feel, but I kind of hold on to it like a life line. I want to relax and be the happy person I was before, but my anxiety consumes me, and I feel like I can’t/don’t want to let it go… I can’t figure out why.

  21. Brooke!!! I am speechless and blown away by what I ve been hearing from you the last few days, I ve never heard anything like it before, and the amazing thing that really has me excited is that I can totally relate to it!!! I started with your over drinking video series, and now I just finished listening to your podcast on anxiety, brilliance!!!! I have to take some time to process, but this is so interesting and exciting, thank you so very much !!!!! I m thrilled….

    1. Hi Tom, Glad you found Brooke’s podcast and are enjoying it! Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. Brooke appreciates it! –Rebekah

  22. I’m so grateful my daughter found your podcast. I have been dealing with major anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years now (I am 50 years old). I had a traumatic event happen to me (something that wouldn’t be traumatic to other people) and it literally changed me from one person to another overnight. I have spent thousands of dollars on programs like Positive Changes and many others that were not helpful at all. I have had to have medications to knock me out because my anxiety was out of control. My life has shrunk down to being in my bedroom reading and researching all the time. I do have a few health issues, like high blood pressure and my body doesn’t like any medications, headaches, fibromyalgia. I have started listening to your podcasts starting at #1, but I also bounce around when I find a title I like. I have tried SO MANY programs and had so many therapists. My husband is so frustrated because the weight of the finances, family, everything is on him and he is worn out. I need serious help. I have just printed out this transcript and highlighted it, so I can remember how to do exactly what you said. Any other specific suggestions would be helpful! Thank you for all your hard work.

  23. I have been listening to these podcasts for months. I enrolled in SCS for January and am so excited, but I wanted to share this story with Brooke. I have been afraid of flying for twenty years. I never let it stop me from flying, because I have to do what I have to do, but I have had severe panic attacks in the air depending on the turbulence (embarrassing oxygen tanks, hyperventilating into paper bags, ugh). Yesterday I had to fly across the country and realized at the airport that I left my Xanax at home. Instead of freaking out, I told myself I could do it. I could feel anxiety and it wouldn’t kill me. I listened to this podcast again right before take-off. There were some really bumpy moments over the Rocky Mountains and I was SCARED. But I talked myself out of it. I told my brain the fear was not serving me–there was nothing to protect me from, I was safe. In Brooke’s words, “yeah, I hear you anxiety, but I’m not going to listen to you.” There were a couple of moments when I was screaming at my own brain that I was safe and to knock it off and it WORKED. I assumed the Watcher role and described what the fear felt like: cold feet, shaky hands, stomach felt like rocks, heart racing, etc. I even wrote it down. It all worked. I did not panic. I cannot believe it. I am so excited about what else is in store for me in SCS.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  24. Hi Brooke,

    I have listened to several of your podcasts and have found them to be extremely thought-provoking and helpful.

    I have found that a major source of my anxiety stems from the fear of death, or that my children will be raised without a mother in the event that I pass unexpectedly. I was raised a strict Catholic and struggle in my beliefs about Heaven or an afterlife. In fact, thinking about this increases my anxiety as I catch myself thinking, “There is no afterlife. After you die, you will never see your family again.” I know I need to live more in the present.

    Sorry for the heavy comment. Any response would be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your question. Brooke will be responding to questions in an upcoming Questions and Answers episode. Stay tuned! –Brecklyn

  25. I do not know where I would be right now if I had not been introduced to your podcast. I have been suffering from debilitating anxiety for the last few months, most days it is a struggle to get out of bed. I know there are several events/situations that are at the root of my anxiety, I am also sure there are deeper feelings that are at play as well. I am doing my best to try and find joy and excitement in my life, thank you for your invaluable information.

    1. Hi Kathy, thank you for sharing! So glad you found Brooke’s podcast and are enjoying it. –Brecklyn

  26. Hi
    In my current job I’m planning major shutdowns in a manufacturing setting, including making equipment safe to work on. So one of the questions I am constantly asking is: what could go wrong? And then I think – i will have failed and I will be blamed.
    So I am at a pretty high level of anxiety. I plan to work the tools you describe, but have another question: How do you prevent anxiety while sleeping? My brain is working up some pretty terrible answers to What could go wrong?. If i wake up, I try to focus on breathing but Im often waking up with a pretty tight jaw in the morning. I know you have hundreds of podcasts now; can you direct me to some that I should check out sooner than later? Thank you!

    1. Great question! Brooke may address this in an upcoming Questions & Answers podcast. Stay tuned! –Brecklyn

  27. I cried reading this. My anxiety has recently come back. As a teenager and into my 20’s I had regular episodes of heart palpitations, thought spirals and feeling the world was about to stop and I’d die! I never talked about it, this is the first time infact and now in my late 30’s I realise it was anxiety and panic attacks.

    They have come back to say hello recently. It so good to read this article and framing of anxiety in terms of a leftover evolutionary mechanism and something that I can choose to manage. Brooks down to earth, clear and medical jargon free way of communicating is making me feel empowered to learn how to accept it and work with it. Thank you xx

  28. Hello,
    My sister suggested that I listen to your podcast. Which I loved. I have been dealing with really bad anxiety and panic attacks to the point where its hard for to get out of the house. I have missed out on doing activities too because of my anxiety. My anxiety, I am guessing, brings on dizziness all day long where its hard to stop it. I have been going to different doctors to rule out stuff because i don’t know if my dizziness is from my Anxiety. So far i am healthy which is good news to me. Just dealing with Anxiety has been a tough road. I have been in therapy but had to switch due to my therapist was in an accident and they were short of staff and told me I had to look somewhere else for help. When I did another place canceled on me and couldn’t get me in sooner. Finally found another therapist that i am about to see. Fingers crossed this works out. So I am basically dealing with anxiety 24/7. Listening to your podcast gave me great ideas and I am defiantly going to try them out. Thank you for this podcast and to my sister to telling me out you.

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