There's so much talk about what the anxiety recovery journey IS about, right? Like what you have to do and how to do it, and that's great...But the not-so-great part is that there are also lots of misconceptions about what the work actually entails! During my anxiety recovery, there were many things that I didn't get right. And my hope is to share what I've learned with you today so that you can recover a whole lot faster than I did!
So let's dive into 8 common misconceptions of anxiety recovery because having clarity about what the recovery journey ISN'T about will help to keep you from getting stuck, and keep moving forward, all without it being so hard! So let's get started.
Let's Talk About What Anxiety Recovery ISN'T About
1. Recovery Isn’t About Accepting Anxiety As A Part Of You.
Acceptance is such a valuable part of anxiety recovery, but it's important to understand what this actually means. So here's the thing... when I talk about accepting anxiety, I don't mean accepting anxiety as a part of you! Accepting anxiety is all about understanding that anxiety is something you're struggling with right now. Not forever, friend! It's so important that you know that you have the power to change your relationship with anxiety, panic, and fears. Most importantly, I want you to know that anxiety is not a part of you. You aren't just an anxious person, and you are capable of some pretty amazing things!
2. Recovery Isn’t About Tackling Specific Fears Or Symptoms.
You might be surprised to learn that I don't teach you how to overcome specific symptoms or fears in my programs. And that's because specific fears and symptoms aren't the issue! The issue has to do with the way that you respond to the symptoms and fears, and the stories you tell yourself during the hard moments. And for me and many of my clients, the more we tried to tackle to specific fears and get rid of them, the more they stuck around. Instead, focusing on creating a healthy relationship with anxiety is much more helpful!
3. Recovery Isn’t About Being Able To Stop A Panic Attack.
Let's be real...panic attacks aren't fun. And you're not crazy for wanting to stop them! I mean... who would want to feel that way?! But unfortunately, we can't stop a panic attack. And by trying to, we create more resistance. So remember, success doesn't look like being able to diffuse a panic attack in a couple of minutes. Success looks like allowing the panic to pass, without any resistance or trying to make it stop! The healthiest decision you can make during a panic attack is to stay, sit with it, and allow it to pass!
4. Recovery Isn’t About Learning How To Control Your Thoughts.
People often ask me, "Shannon, how did you learn to control your thoughts?". And, well, I didn't! And you don't have to, either! When I was really struggling with anxiety, I would spend a lot of time trying to control my thoughts. So you certainly aren't alone! But it's going to be very helpful for you to learn that you don't need to control them. Because when you stop trying to battle your thoughts and decrease the amount of attention you give them, you'll realize you can have thoughts without them meaning anything about you!
5. Recovery Isn’t About Facing Things Without Feeling Anxious Or Scared.
So I say this a lot...but my advice to you is to do the thing scared. Although it might feel like success happens when you're not feeling anxious, real success happens when you bring anxiety along for the ride. Because when you take the anxiety with you, you'll start to realize that you were never in any danger to begin with! And you've always had that strength within you.
6. Recovery Isn’t About Only Doing Exposures.
I think so much emphasis gets put on exposure work. And yes, it's a helpful tool and a necessary tool. But it's not the only thing! There is so much more to anxiety recovery than exposure. In fact, exposures only make up two of the twenty-five lessons in my program, Panic to Peace. And that's for good reason! In order to do an effective exposure, we need to start creating a healthy relationship with anxiety, and the thoughts and sensations. And not only that, but you need to learn how to navigate the symptoms when they do pop up! When you have these tools, exposure work becomes a whole lot easier.
7. Recovery Isn’t About Constantly Aiming To Feel At Peace.
Although we all want peace, anxiety recovery is all about allowing ourselves to feel all of our emotions. And some emotions don't feel the greatest... but feeling them is a necessary part of anxiety recovery. Because when you accept all types of emotions, the happy ones feel that much greater!
8. Recovery isn’t about fixing you.
I really want you to hear me on this one... you don't need any fixing. And I know this might feel hard to believe right now, but you don't! It's your relationship with anxiety that needs a little fixing. And as I mentioned earlier... anxiety isn't a part of you! Anxiety might be causing things to be quite a mess right now, but you're not broken, and you can heal. With time, small steps, and healthy action, I know you'll get there!
Make sure to tune in and listen to the full episode for all the goodness!