What is more exhausting than feeling your emotions? Anxiety, anxious feelings, and dread are all triggered through the brain’s response to sensations, thoughts, and memories, or some combination thereof. You hear the pot crashing in the kitchen and snap to until your cortex decides about a half a second later that it was just that and not a gunshot or someone being seriously wounded.
The person who continuously feels the threat of anxiety has become stuck in the cycle of having their mind decide to be anxious whenever their fight, flight or freeze response is triggered. It is exhausting because no amount of worry or avoidance will shut that response down, even if some form of avoidance
brings a sense of temporary release. The person with a germ phobia continues to avoid situations that provoke angst or washes repeatedly—just temporary relief until the next trigger. The individual with PTSD has flashbacks that bring the memories to vivid life and reacts to stop those memories in the moment. It is going to keep occurring until new neural pathways are laid down that can override the stress response. The woman who is certain she is the least intelligent, least attractive person among her friends will continue to find ways to manage that (untrue) idea until she learns that being controlled by everyone else’s opinion will only bring continued sorrow to her.
How do you change these overriding sensations, thoughts and memories? Hard, personal work and the desire to have a more fulfilling and engaged life. One that allows you to live in the present instead of the past or the future where it is all too easy to “what if” yourself to emotional death.
So what is more exhausting than feeling your emotions? Avoiding your emotions is actually significantly more exhausting that feeling them. Anxiety management is about learning to recognize the feelings, acknowledge them, and create a new relationship with these same feelings that allows you to be in control instead of the anxiety.
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