If you experience anxiety this podcast episode will help clarify where it comes from, what it is, and how simply knowing these two things will change your anxiety for the better.
You can listen above, on your favorite podcast app, or watch on YouTube. Notes, links, resources, and a full transcript are below.
- What is anxiety really trying to tell us?
- Where does anxiety come from?
- What information is anxiety sharing?
- What can we do about anxiety?
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Podcast: A Little Peace of Mind
- Book: A Little Peace of Mind by Nicola Bird
Transcript of Episode
Hello explorers, and welcome back to a Q&A episode of Unbroken. This is Q&A Episode 11 and I’m so happy to have you here. My name is Alexandra Amor and these are the episodes of the podcast where I answer your questions.
So just a reminder, you can submit a question that you’ve got about unwanted habits, anything like that, to alexandraamor.com/question. There’s a form there you can fill out and I’ll be happy to answer your question on a future episode.
Today the question is, “What is anxiety?”
This is a topic close to my heart, because I’ve got a funny story about my own personal experience with anxiety that I’ll get to in just a second.
Very simply, anxiety is our body’s way of letting us know that we’re caught up in some insecure thinking.
That’s all it is. It’s very simple. It’s actually the opposite of what it can look like to us, which I think is what makes it such an interesting topic. It’s not a problem. And we’ll talk about why that is in just a second. It’s not something we need to manage or control.
Very similarly to cravings that we have when we have an unwanted habit, anxiety is information from the wisdom and the the universal life energy that’s within all of us. So we’ll talk about that a bit more in just a second. Right now, I want to share my personal experience, just so you know, that I know whereof I speak.
For years, I experienced a form of anxiety that I would describe as urgency.
The really funny thing about it is I didn’t know that that’s what it was. Put a pin in that, because it’s really interesting that we misunderstand the messages that are coming from our body and our wisdom. And that was absolutely true for me.
For as long as I could remember, I felt a sense of urgency. I wouldn’t say of course, I can’t say 100% of the time, but a lot of the time, especially around work, and also around things like running errands, for example. So that was one that was really puzzling for me. If I had a list of, let’s say, four errands that I needed to run, I would be out doing them and I would get to the second one, and start to feel this sense of urgency like I just needed the errands to be finished.
Inevitably, probably nine times out of 10, maybe more, I would just say “Oh, forget it” about the last two errands on the list. And I would go home. That was because that information that was going on in my body, that feeling of urgency, felt like information to me that was pertinent to the situation that I was in.
It was only much later once I began to explore this inside out understanding that I realized that that wasn’t what it was. And the funny thing is, I never would have described myself as an anxious person. Like I said, it was very specifically a sense of urgency that I felt.
And then I was listening to Nicola Bird’s podcast, A Little Peace of Mind, probably back in 2018 and she had a guest on and I don’t remember who the guests was. But as they were having their conversation, the guest just happened to mention that urgency was the same as anxiety, it was just in a different form. I was really struck by that. It really turned my world upside down. It was one of those moments. I just thought wait, what, wait a second.
Until then I had been really attracted to her podcast. I listened to it every week. And I really enjoyed it. And the funny thing was, if I had thought about it logically, I didn’t understand why that was that I was really enjoying it. And then when this guest said that thing I realized oh okay, I now I get it, I can really relate to what was going on when her guests would talk about anxiety because like the guest said, urgency is just another form of anxiety.
So once I saw that I was absolutely thrilled. I’m going to go on and explain a little bit more about anxiety and that kind of thing. But the nice thing is about exploring this understanding was that what I noticed was that gradually, without really do without doing anything, really, the anxiety or the urgency that I felt, just started to fall away. I still experienced it occasionally. And I’ll talk about that in a minute, too. It just, it was so interesting to me that simply by looking in this direction, by learning more about how we work from the inside out, how thought, is this river of energy moving through us. And our experiences and our circumstances are two separate things, even though we often conflate them.
So just by being an explorer in this understanding, that sense of urgency has fallen away from me, for the most part, and when it does crop up now I don’t really get too bothered by it. And I certainly don’t listen to it the way I used to.
Okay, so let’s dive into a bit of what that feeling is, whether it’s a feeling of urgency or anxiety.
What’s really going on is that we are always feeling our thinking.
We are divinely designed. And in our bodies, we are always feeling the quality of the thinking that’s going on in our minds. And those two things are always happening simultaneously, which is entirely normal and natural.
It’s actually helpful when we feel feelings of anxiety, that’s actually a really helpful tool that we have, as we operate in the world and navigate our lives. Because what it’s telling us is that the quality of our thinking is not so great, that our thinking has really sped up, it’s become quite insecure, quite busy. And that feeling of anxiety is is what is going to tell us that because it’s going to get our attention.
Anxiety is information.
It’s just not the information that we tend to interpret it as. For example, the misunderstanding we tend to have is that anxiety is information about the outside world. When we innocently believe that the world works in an outside-in kind of way, then when we feel anxiety or urgency like I did, we think that that’s information about what’s going on outside of us.
For example, if someone has anxiety about being in a car, then they feel like that anxiety is about the car, it’s about being in the car, it’s about being nervous about traffic. If someone feels anxious when they go more than 25 minutes from their home, which is a specific example from Nicola Bird, then, when that happens when they get 24 minutes away from their house, they feel that that anxiety that they’re feeling is information that they should pay attention to, and then return to their home.
If someone feels anxiety about bridges, they think that the anxiety that they feel is actually about the bridges that are on the outside of themselves. But again, that’s not what anxiety is. Anxiety is simply information, letting us know the quality of our thinking. And we’re constantly getting that information from our bodies. There’s this perfect feedback system that exists within us or it is what we are.
So, when we start to get those butterflies in our stomach, or sweaty palms or those panicky feelings about the situation that we think our anxiety is about. What that’s really about is, is that we have a lot of just like I said, sped up insecure thinking about a given situation, or person or bridge, or whatever it is.
What we can do when we feel that kind of anxiety is simply notice that it’s there.
And notice that it’s making a comment on the quality of our thinking. It has nothing to do with bridges, or traffic, or cars, or anything like that. And unfortunately, what can often happen with anxiety is once we feel the initial feeling, and misunderstand it, thinking it’s about the bridge or the traffic, then we innocently layer a whole bunch more thinking on top of that. So this is what happens when we create our lives so that we avoid situations that are that we think, are making us anxious.
If someone is anxious about bridges, they might arrange their world and go from A to B making sure that they don’t have to drive over a bridge. And the more that we assign that anxiety to things that are going on outside of us to bridges, to traffic to cars, whatever it is, the smaller our world becomes. And this is really sad and unfortunate.
When we misinterpret these signals from our body, what we naturally tend to do is try to avoid the situation that we believe is creating the anxiety. So circling back to my urgency situation in my running errands thing, I was doing the best I could in that moment by not doing the last couple of errands that were on my list. That was my innocent response to that feeling of urgency.
The feeling of urgency is there. I think it’s giving me information about these errands that I’m running. And in order to make that feeling go away, naturally, because I misunderstand where it’s coming from, I think to myself, Okay, I’m just going to forget those last two errands and go home. And that’s what I did for probably three decades. And to a certain degree it worked.
The only problem is that then I wasn’t living the life that I wanted to lead. I was living my life at times, at the mercy of that feeling of urgency, because I misunderstood what it was telling me. And that’s really unfortunate. In my case, that was a pretty minor example. I would say it the urgency affected me in a lot of different ways in my life. But that’s kind of the most concrete example. And even so if that’s not that serious.
We’ve all heard of and maybe you are someone who has become frightened of leaving their house, because the the way that they feel they can avoid the feelings of anxiety that they feel, is by not doing the things that bring up the anxiety, or that they misunderstand are bringing up the anxiety. And again, that’s exactly what I did. I thought the errands were the thing that were giving me the anxiety. So I just stopped doing them and went home.
What can we do about about this when we start to feel feelings of anxiety?
if you’re someone who experiences them a little or a lot. And as with all the exploring that we’re doing about the inside-out nature of life, there are two things that are really important. One is simply continuing your exploration, and I’ve got a resource that I’m going to give you at the end of this episode. So listening to podcasts like mine and others Nicola Bird’s, is specifically about anxiety.
What’s what’s really important to notice is that no matter what anyone who’s exploring this understanding is sharing they’re all pointing in the same direction. So even if you’re listening to one of my podcast episodes, for example, about cravings or overeating or any kind of overing habit, because we’re talking about principles of how being human works, those principles apply to every aspect of life. So they apply to our overing habits or unwanted habits. And they apply to anxiety as well.
When we begin to understand that, when we begin to see how it is our human system is designed, and that the design is always trying to help us not hinder us at all, I can just go back to my personal experiences, then my feelings of urgency and anxiety just started to fall away on their own because I understood what was happening.
Even now, I still do experience urgency.
It does come up from time to time, and it’s just as uncomfortable as it was back when I didn’t understand what it was. The difference now is that, first of all, I know that, because that feeling is part of my design, divine design, I don’t need to be afraid of it.
The second thing is, I know that it’s going to pass by. I know that that feeling is part of the river of Thought with a capital T that is flowing through me, and that it will move on. I’ll get distracted, something will change. If I’m anxious about let’s say, anytime I’ve given a public talk, or I’ve been a guest on a webinar, or a podcast or anything like that, I know for sure that once I start talking, the anxiety tends to disappear, because now my mind is focused on something else.
The other thing I know is that as my mind quiets down, those feelings of urgency or anxiety will go away. So it’s important to know those things.
I think the second most important thing is to, I was gonna say, catch yourself, notice what’s happening when you’re feeling anxious. And the thing is that very often, we can be asleep to that. So it can be happening, and we can have some sort of an automatic response.
For me, it might be, to go back to the errand example, automatically coming home and saying, forget it about a couple of my errands. I might have done that when I was first beginning to understand this. And that’s okay. When we fall asleep to this understanding, that’s fine. You might catch it the next time.
When you do, it’s enough to to notice and just try to remember Oh, right, this is my wisdom, my kind design, and it’s letting me know that my thinking is really stirred up. And that’s all it is.
It’s not information about the future.
It’s not information about bridges, or traffic or anything like that. And I think it’s important not to necessarily force yourself to change, to have that situation change, to try to force your anxiety to disappear. It’s really enough, as I said earlier, to just simply continue to explore this understanding. And as you begin to realize, and have your own personal insights, about how we are designed and how these things work, then the anxiety is going to fall away all on its own.
And then a third thing I will recommend is Nicola Bird’s book, A Little Peace of Mind. So if you’re watching on YouTube, I’m holding up the cover. It’s a great book. She used to teach workshops and that kind of thing, she doesn’t do that anymore. Bt previously she really placed a focus on helping people with anxiety because she experienced it so much in her own personal life.
And it really, it really had an adverse effect. She talks about not being able to go on trips with her children and only being able to go 25 minutes away from her house, because then her anxiety would flare up and tell her she had to get home.
She had a really profound change once she came upon this understanding. So that’s a great resource.
You can ask for the book at your local public library. It’s available in paperback ebook and audiobook and Nicola herself recorded the audiobook. You can ask for the paperback at your local independent bookstore. And then it’s also available in the online stores as well. I highly recommend that.
That’s it for today’s Q&A episode. Thank you so much for joining me.
Again, if you have any questions about that, or about unwanted habits, let me know: alexandraamor.com/question.
Thanks again so much for being here, and I’ll see you next time.