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/// Nov 5, 2018 8:00:00 AM

How to use NLP to free yourself from the trap of anxiety

Posted by Joseph

Hello Everyone, Joseph here from The Coaching Room, welcome to my latest E-Guide on understanding and freeing yourself from the experience of Anxiety; to #knowanxiety is to be free of it.

 

“Awareness in and of itself is curative”

Fritz Perls


The following tips I’m sharing are gained from the last 18 years of my professional experience in providing, personal coaching, executive coaching and NLP training and Neuro-Semantics to individuals and groups throughout the world.

This E-Guide is written for the sufferer of anxiety and also for anyone living with or providing care for someone with it.

The following 15 tips are designed to help you #knowanxiety in a way that may not be obvious to mainstream understanding, on behalf of helping you be less subject to anxiety and to gain some objectivity and potentially more choice and management of this ‘condition’. As Fritz said; awareness in and of itself is curative, I hope this E-Guide brings you greater awareness.

Please read through these tips with an open mind, particularly to some of the Tip titles that may seem antagonistic at first, that is part of the design and growth opportunity; you can always close your mind at the end ☺

Here we go…

 

TIP#1- Become aware that anxiety is ‘nothing’

From my training & work in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and personal coaching, I have noticed that we, people, tend to make ‘some-thing out of no-thing’. This is not a belittling or judgmental statement, but one about a process that we tend to do. We tend to make our experiences and conditions solid and real, when in fact they are not.

Let's qualify this; have you ever found some anxiety? I mean, really, have you ever tripped over some on your way to work or found some in your pantry at dinnertime? Probably not! So, this is the first Tip and the first thing to learn; realise that anxiety is not something real or solid, it is not a noun, it’s a verb, a process, some action, more accurately, a thinking, that is required by you to experience anxiety.

 

TIP#2- Realise that anxiety is not a ‘Feeling’!

One of the biggest and most common mistakes, during the last 5 years of running public NLP training programs and short courses, that I have experienced people doing, that really prevents them from growing and addressing emotional feelings and difficulties; is confusing their thoughts and thinking with their feelings!

To really #knowanxiety is to know that anxiety is a thinking process and not actually a feeling! Let that in for a moment… If you think anxiety is a feeling, and it is not, you are much less equipped to deal with it directly. Let me share some examples of this confusion so that we can agree to tip#2:

 

‘I feel really upset’ (this is a thinking or thought, not an emotion) (feeling)

I feel like I have just had enough already! (a thought not a feeling)

I feel like you are disrespecting me! (a thought not a feeling)

I feel like you don’t love me anymore… (a thought not a feeling)

 

You get the principle? Here is one more:

 

I feel really anxious! (a thought not a feeling)

 

There is a feeling associated with anxiety, but your anxiety is a thinking process, the cause of the feeling/s (the symptoms). Let’s look at the simple formula for this, but before we do, did you catch I said it was ‘your anxiety’ in the previous sentence? If not, you are probably attached or identified with this condition, we will look at this in one of the following tips. Back to the formula:

 

(Cause) Thinking ‘anxiously’ leads to and = Feeling; ‘fear’ (symptom + effect)

 

So, there you have it, ‘fear’ is a feeling that arises with the thinking of anxiety. A healthy move toward freeing yourself from anxiety is to know that you think your way into it, not feel your way. So now we have a target, at last! It is much more valuable to address a cause than the symptoms. Stop trying not to feel the fear or even fearing the fear; the solution you are looking for is not there. Let me give you and example to help clarify this:

You go to the doctors with a red itchy rash (symptom) all over your body and the doctor prescribes some cream and wishes you goodbye. The Doc maybe providing some relief, even a cure, but what do you really want the doc to do?

That’s right, you want to know what the cause of the rash is and get that treated or prevented. It’s the same principle here, the cause of anxiety is much more useful to address than getting rid of the symptoms! Let's deepen this understanding in tip #3

 

TIP#3- Understand Anxiety is a Skill

To #knowanxiety you need to know that it is a skill. If you personally do anxiety, then you have a skill, you are very able to do and perform the strategy of anxiety. A person can get better and better at a skill, even to levels of mastery that are world-class! That can present a major issue when your skillfulness is with doing anxiety! Have you noticed over the years that you have become better and better at ‘having’ anxiety. You need less time to experience it? Yes? You need less stimulus or significance to get into an anxious state?

Once upon a time your skill level was low and you could only do anxiety well with major events or happenings, like a job interview or public speaking,  today however, you can bring a masterful game of doing anxiety, to even mundane things like responding to someone unexpectedly knocking at your front door!

I would like to add a sentence here from an NLP technique called an NLP presupposition and add to it a little:

 

‘It is not what happens to us that can hurt us, but how we represent it to ourselves! This also includes what has not happened yet!’

 

How skilled are you are doing anxiety? 0-10? Would you like to become less skilled at that?

So knowing how you do a certain skill or what we call in NLP, a strategy, enables us to interrupt it! To alter and affect a different outcome or symptom! (Less or no anxiety at all) This is great news for you and other sufferers. Let’s look then in the following tips as the resources needed to do anxiety well, once we know them, you can start to stop the performance, if you are ready to. I will also provide a following tip to add to your efforts to end doing anxiety skillfully.

 

TIP#4- To Do Anxiety Well You Need a Great Imagination!

To experience or do anxiety, an absolute prerequisite, and essential process that is required every single time is to *use your imagination about the future*

Please re-read *that.

A major part of the skill of anxiety is to imagine the future, the upcoming event or interaction and is facilitating your now arising anxiety. There are several problems with imagining the future:

  1. It is not possible to prophesy what is going to or will happen in the future!
  2. Because it is not possible it lends itself to worst case thinking, to cover all the bases!
  3. If you spend so much time imagining the future, chances are you are missing out on life now; maybe that is in part why life currently is less than you imagined it to be.
  4. Your imagination has no limits, if you are using it for joy, that’s great, but what if you are using it for worry!


So, here in tip #4 stop imagining the future and you can’t be anxious

 

TIP#5- Be HERE!

Be here, means be here in this moment, notice your life and events as they currently are. Get in touch with your physical self and out of your skillful head- space. Your body is very smart; it is always here in the present moment! It has never been in tomorrow, next week or next month. Use your body as your anchor for your mind and imagination to be here more regularly.

As anxiety starts to play out in mind, grab both of your knees and bring yourself here to this real and present moment. You can ask yourself, what problems are here right now that I need anxiety for? It is not possible to be anxious or do anxiety about this present moment! You can experience fear about right now, and you can do something about that right now, can't you. That is ‘fight or flight’, accessing courage or discernment about this moment and taking actions.

 

TIP#6- To Do Anxiety You Need Amnesia at Will 

Another component in the skill of doing anxiety is that of ‘future and past based amnesia’, of significant and almost complete forgetfulness. Here is how it works:

Future based amnesia is first. Someone asks you to do something, say a work or public presentation or talk at conference, in about 3 weeks time. You say ‘Yes’ though every part of you wants to say no.

Here comes the arising anxiety (remember tip #5 and stop doing tip#4 ☺ ) because you are now imagining how that presentation is going to go. Next you activate your future amnesia; you do this by forgetting that you have 3 weeks to prepare! You do this be forgetting that you can actually do this task! You do this by forgetting all the recourses and skills you have available to help you knock this event out of the park!

Now bring in the past based amnesia, you start to forget that you have done this stuff before and more particularly, your past amnesia hides from you that everything you have every been anxious about before never went as bad as you had imagined. Right now you are doing anxiety like a pro! I think it's time for the next tip.

 

TIP#7- Count Yourself and Your Resources

Take stock of you and yours. Just take a moment to start to count the amount time you have before this event. Start to notice the fact that you know what to do, you have the skills and abilities to do this, and if you don’t, you can gain them. Count that you have people around you and that they are able to provide resources and support. Count that someone has asked YOU in particular, providing you with the opportunity. So let's recap what you are counting:

  1. You are counting the time you have from now till then; the event
  2. You are counting the skills and knowledge you have already
  3. You are counting the people and resources you have to help
  4. You are counting that someone has asked you

Finally you are counting this as an opportunity for you, today!

 

TIP#8- Know Anxiety Your Potential

So, a very interesting phenomenon arose for me some years ago around the fact that Anxiety is actually an energetic expression of your potential and possibility. Let me give you an example by giving you a task that you can try to do anxiety about:

So, the task for you is within 24 hours of right now (whatever time this is) I want you to be physically standing on the planet Mars. How is that, how much anxiety are you doing able to do? None right? Your skill has fallen away.

In fact it is because you know that you cannot do it, that you cannot do anxiety about it! Your potential lies in this too then. You can only do anxiety about something that you actually know you CAN do! It is reasonable then that your anxiety is actually an indicator of what you can do, not of what you can't; let this inform you today. Lean into that fully.

 

TIP#9- Anxiety Stops you and it Stops you

Anxiety can stop you because you are using it for motivation; stop that!

A lot of people experience Anxiety when they are faced with a seemingly difficult or challenging task. Be that, personally challenging, professionally or simply against the ‘clock’ of they time they think they have available.

Are you using Anxiety to motivate yourself? If you are you are also friends with Anxiety’s sibling; procrastination. Using anxiety as a formula to get things done may seem effective, however it can be an emotionally difficult, distractive and risky affair. It looks like this:

 

  1. You receive a task or request with a deadline that you say yes too. (micro-tip; try No more often)
  2. Apply Anxiety
  3. Distract yourself for the entire period leading up to task or event just 6 hours out from the start.
  4. Its 2am get up and write that speech presentation, paper etc. as if  your life now depends upon it and you have no choice.
  5. 6am task completed and ready to deliver; Success!
  6. (A.) Receive NEW request…! Start at B. again.

 

Stop Doing That! Just stop – Tip #10 may help.

 

TIP#10- Feel The Fear…

A Title of a nice book; Feel the fear and do it anyway. This is great advice when it comes to Anxiety, particularly if you are doing what’s in Tip#9

It is time to procrastinate on your procrastinating, put off putting it off! Nike; Just do it! Give this a go, today.

 

TIP#11- Your Identity can Lock Anxiety In Forever

The ‘eternal question’, you know the one, ‘Who Am I’? Can take a while to answer, even lifetimes. In the gap of that, we, people, tend to all too easily allow their self-sense or Identity to fill up with imposters and substitutes. ‘I may not know who I am, however, at least my ‘insert x’ your name, body, condition allows me some sense of me’.

If you recognise and identify yourself as an ‘Anxiety Sufferer’, eventually you will stop recognising this self-identity and become a someone that ‘has’ anxiety, at the level of your own Identity.

Identification with anything is one of the most effective strategies to lock anything and everything inside of you. From here it starts to grow and find a life and voice of its own; its starts living YOU! See you are not any condition, any issue or struggle, you are a Human Being; Anxiety is not personal, permanent or pervasive, unless you make it so.

 

TIP#12- Have Great Thoughts

In and on behalf of what we have covered in tip #11, here the offer is to practice dis-identifying with your thinking. What a person thinks is simply that; Thoughts! In Neuro-Linguistic Programming of our NLP Training courses, one of the most significant learning’s is that what we ‘think’ is not actually real!

We remember and imagine reality with our brains or mind; yet no thought is actually real. We can think whatever we want to, they are all pretend or made up; so have great thoughts about your future, if you can’t manage great yet, good ones will do. Remember, you are not your thoughts, you are so much more than that.

 

TIP#13- Anxiety about Anxiety; the professional formula!

The highest level of doing Anxiety, where you really #knowanxiety is when you have developed the capacity of experiencing Anxiety about Anxiety! What I call; Professional Anxiety! Here, you have developed the skill of doing Anxiety about your Anxiety that you do not even have yet; now you do. This can make Anxiety seem deeply real, personal, permanent and pervasive!

At this professional level of Anxiety you are masterful at imagining even being asked to step out of your comfort zone of life… Here your movie mind has you in its grip, you are playing movies about situations that are not even probable, only possible in so far off distant future. What is this professional strategy on behalf of, what’s the point in doing such thinking? It is to prepare you for many possible futures and to ensure you are ready and will be okay..!

 

TIP#14- Relax, release the Focus.

Your way out of being a professional at Anxiety is to relax, simply ease off the constant focusing on the future and relax into being here in body and mind… Try relaxing as a daily practice, being here, being now, and being your best self today.

 

TIP#15- GO Really Hard!

If you are motivated by pain and discomfort and find these too difficult to engage in moving toward freedom from Anxiety for your future, an alternate NLP method for you to try is to ‘Go Extreme’, absolutely blow up and make highly intense and terrible your experience of Anxiety! It is paradoxical I know, yet, if you can blow-out the thinking pattern into massive disproportionate perspective, eventually, or really soon you as a system and human will start to see just how ridiculous your concerns and scenarios truly are.
Situations that you will never experience, and have never really experienced, will stop being the things associated with anxiety...

 Well, that’s it from me, I hope that deepening more how to #knowanxiety will help you find a future free of doing it

 

FURTHER READING
How to use NLP to shift perspective and develop your Emotional Intelligence