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What if anxiety doesn’t come from where we think it does?

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Image by Workandapix and Pixabay

Generally I do not ‘think’ of myself as an anxious person. Yes, sure I experience anxious thinking. Sometimes more than I would like. But I don’t identify the experience of feeling anxious with who I really am.

Recently I had a very intense experience of anxious thinking that really took it up a gear! My husband and I went to a birthday party in London (we live in Brighton) and left our then 6 year old son for the first time overnight, with my parents. My son is completely happy with my folks, and he wasn’t anxious about it all (ah the wisdom of children! But that’s a different story).

From the moment we got into the car to drive to London my mind started…”What if we get killed in a car crash and we leave him with no parents?” In rolled the accompanying horrible, and downright uncomfortable, feelings. This continued for pretty much the whole one-hour journey.

Then we got on the train. “What if this train is in a crash, and one or both of us is killed?” On the tube, same story…”What if there is a bomb down here and we both die?” This one almost got me to panic stage, and brought feelings of claustrophobia with it…all deeply unpleasant. I nearly said to my husband let’s get off the tube, this one looked so real.

Now if I didn’t have the understanding, and knowing, within myself about how my experience was being created, I feel sure I would have said to my husband that we had to go home. It would have looked very real to me that these outside events, that might possibly happen, were creating my feelings. And that for these feelings to stop, I needed to not be in the car, on the train or tube. But luckily I do know different. I do know that my thinking about life, as it was occurring at that time, was 100% creating my feelings and experience of anxiety in that moment.

My husband was in exactly the same car, train and tube as me. But he had a completely different experience of the journey, and of leaving our son.

At some point after we had eaten dinner (I poked some food down, still feeling anxious and horrible) and as we walked to the bar, an insight (or wisdom-based thought, not coming from my intellectual mind) said “You are just up in our head, that’s all it is”. And poof, the anxiety was GONE. Completely gone. It only took one new, fresh thought and my experience and feelings changed 360 degrees. I was back to my self of peace, resilience and presence in the now. Not some imagined future. I was out of my psychology, my intellect (god love my brain!) and back at home-base. I know that my mind was spinning a story about leaving my son not being 'safe', this looked like a threat to survival and so it tried it's hardest to make me go home. All very dramatic, and it felt very real but none of it was TRUE. None of it was actually happening. It was my mind doing what minds do, trying to keep us safe, where there is no real threat. Any this is the basis of all anxiety. A mind's job is to keep you safe, it doesn't care if you are happy or not. It's really good to remember this when it's trying to convince you that it's prophecies are real.

What if we can simply feel it all?

As human beings we get to experience the full range of human emotions. Expecting to be happy all the time is something I have given up on believing is achievable, or even desirable. And yes, even though I understand what tricks minds get up to, and how the human experience is created, that doesn’t stop anxious, fearful, sad etc. thinking/feeling from knocking at my door. Yes the volume of this kind of thinking is gradually reducing. The power comes in my experience of it, and that action doesn’t have to be taken to make it go away. My mind will self-correct, all on its own. I don’t have to limit what I do, or go for in life, for fear of anxious feelings coming along. I can experience those, and because I know where they are coming from, I can also still move forward in life….even when they are there.

A visual image for this is: imagine two train tracks running alongside each other. On the left track is thought-energy coming into me, bringing anxious feelings with it. On the right track is life, what I am doing in the present moment, my journey to London. These two tracks NEVER meet. They run alongside each other, but do not intersect. It is quite possible to have a whole bunch of anxious thinking going on, and to still continue on with what life is presenting you with – in this case, travel to a party in London. This works the same way for all of us humans, 100% of the time.

This is incredibly freeing for me, as I used to do, or not do, all sorts of things in order to try to feel good. And now that is off my to-do list I get to just be in my life, however my experience shows up. And yes….of course I have a preference for the calmer thoughts and feelings. And sometimes I get caught up in it all looking real. But I always, always come back to home-base…eventually. The same is true of you.

I love coaching people in this inside-out understanding of how our experience of life is created. If you would like to experience the same freedom, as well a less stress and more joy in your life, please do contact me to set up a free call, so we can discuss how I may be able to support you.

Thank you for reading!

Lindsey Elliott is a Certified Change Coach, working in Brighton and online. She offers one to one coaching in a life-changing paradigm of understanding about how the human experience is created. With this understanding you can move from feeling insecure, stressed, anxious or unfulfilled to happy, secure, inspired, peaceful and filled with love.

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