Here is a list of books for coping with anxiety: Stop Obsessing!:How To Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions by Edna B. Foa, R. Reid Wilson Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Beverly Beyette The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle Retrain Your Anxious Brain by John And Daylle Deanna Tsilimparis & Schwartz Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel B. Smith The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W. Watts The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts by Lee Baer
Life is hard, that is true for every person no matter what culture, upbringing, intelligence or beliefs. Life is full of experiences, these experiences shape our memory and our memories follow us for the rest of our life. We hold onto pain, happiness, grief and so on. We maneuver through future events with those lasting imprints. We all are interconnected, characterized by the need for affection, love and accomplishment. As a child we start off by being curious, ignorant and most of all innocent. Then “life” happens, parents, relationships, health, and our careers may let us down. Some people come out unscathed, some are extremely impacted and others will be slightly impacted. For those of us who are left impacted in the collateral damage of our “life” we enter a journey. The journey: of trying to figure out how to sever the tie between our mental state and being happy.
Being able to separate thoughts and our conscious mind is integral when combating mental wellbeing. Our brain is wired to try and find solutions to problems, the mind presents the solutions and we hold on to the ones we believe are logical. The key thing here is that we believe they are logical, not realizing that the gatekeeper of these thoughts can actually be illogical. For example, lets use negative self talk: “I am fat”, “I am never going to find someone”, “I am not productive”, “I am unworthy” and the list goes on…This negative self talk can be excruciating, and difficult to get out of. The mind starts to play this recording over and over again, and because it feels real it must be real, I must be genuinely not worthy. These feelings turn into suffering and the mind has now impacted our ability to disconnect from these ideas.
I know this because I was there; I never realized that there was a difference between my thoughts and myself. I always believed that if I thought something that it came from me and that it is connected to the core of my existence. I genuinely believed that the thoughts represent who I am as a person. It took me a while to understand why I suffered with panic attacks, intrusive thoughts and constant worrying.
Life with anxiety is extremely difficult, demoralizing and can halt the ability to get up and live day to day. There is also an unfortunate stigma connected to anxiety, I know personally that I felt weak and afraid. I finally hit a breaking point last year when I could not tolerate the agony of my anxiety anymore and pushed myself to start searching for tools to help me with my mental health.
The past year has been a beautiful and life changing experience for me. I discovered incredible books, meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy. I want to provide the resources that helped me so much to others, and try and normalize the conversation around mental health.
A wonderful idea from Intelligent Change:
Imagine how it would feel starting every day in a positive mood, energized, ready to take on the world. Instead of mentally replaying all your life’s problems and pulling the covers over your head, you chose to take control of your mind and focus on the good.
What exactly is a Gratitude Journal?
On a very basic level, gratitude journaling involves writing about things for which you are grateful.
On a deeper level, gratitude journaling helps unwire any negative patterns you may have. By keeping a journal, you develop a practice that keeps you accountable to getting the results you want while developing appreciation and enjoying happier days.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is structured around the idea that our thoughts influence our feelings and behavior. The idea being that if we can change our reaction to the thoughts we can in turn change our behavior. Over time something that used to be triggering no longer is, and something that usually would become trigger no longer has the same hold on an individual.
When my anxiety got really bad, I started searching the web for answers on how to cope with anxiety provoking thoughts. I ended up finding lots of information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I started to look for a CBT trained therapist and ended up finding one who uses CBT and Mindfulness. The process was not easy at all, but definitely worth it. I was able through working hard and being guided by my therapist to challenge my thoughts and ultimately change my perspective.
For example, the idea that I was inadequate would before evoke a response of “I feel inadequate so it must be true” after cognitive behavioral therapy the response changed to “ I accept the presence of this thought, and I know it is just a thought”. The most gratifying experience of cognitive behavioral therapy is when I was able to recognize that I not only had a pattern of negative and self-consuming thoughts, but I had thousands of thoughts. When I was able to observe the other thoughts, I then was able to push the self-consuming thoughts in the same backdrop. I had no response to them, they were just the same as the thousands of other thoughts I had. I started to view my thoughts differently, and was able to watch them come and go with no judgment and no attachment.
I also learned that my thoughts were not connected to the core of who I am as a person. And that the “What if…” is not something that can ever be answered no matter how long and how much time I spent ruminating about the thoughts.
I still have moments of anxiety, but I now have the tools and resources to tackle it much more effectively. My anxiety is no longer crippling, and I am able to live a much more healthier and fulfilling life.
“You are not your mind.”
– Eckhart Tolle