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How to Punch Your Anxiety in the Mouth

Anxiety is a killer – everyone experiences it in some form or other. It forces you to retreat and makes you small and passive. Success in life is predicated on your ability to advance, think big, and be active.

Anxiety today is one of the key reasons people feel unfulfilled socially and professionally. You will never eliminate this silent assassin, but you can punch it in the mouth.

A low sense of self-worth is the core of anxiety. The reason you are anxious bad things will happen to you is because you irrationally believe bad things should happen to you. Rebuilding your self-worth does not happen overnight. It is a lifetime process but knowing the underlying cause of the anxiety is a giant step in the right direction.

Here are SIX practical things that you can start doing today to tame your anxiety.

1) Write this Shit Down

Keep a journal and write down what is making you anxious. This process of giving physical form to an unseen threat is a very powerful step towards becoming a conqueror. Writing is organized thinking. By forcing yourself to organize your mind and verbalize the source of the anxiety, you can generate some space between you and the threat. You can then step back and have a look at it more objectively in the cold hard light of day.

One of my biggest fears is growing old alone. I am 50 years old and two times divorced. I live alone – my parents and siblings live 2,000km away and my daughter lives 14,000km away – so I am doing a good job in realising this fear. In my first romantic relationship after my second divorce, all that paranoia came bubbling to the top. I went all-in the relationship and ended up breaking the poor woman’s heart. I was driving at 100km/h when I should have been walking at 5km/h. By writing this shit down, it helped me to pace myself in future relationships.

2) Speak to Someone

If you find it hard to write and you don’t mind shelling out some cash, go and see a shrink. I am more of an investor than a spender, so I always opt for the first approach of writing things down. If you can find a good shrink, they can help you rebuild your self-esteem. They can do what your parents/caregivers failed to do – reinforce and mirror to you a positive sense of worth and self-esteem. It is so much easier when you are a kid walking around in diapers and eating mud in your backyard, but if you enter into adulthood with low self-esteem, this is not a death sentence.

3) Meditate

I hate meditating because I am a hyperactive nutcase that cannot sit still for 2 seconds. I do everything fast – drive fast, eat fast, talk fast. For me to sit down for 10 minutes, on a yoga mat, and try and empty my mind is more difficult than climbing Everest, and I live 50 meters away from the beach. I can hear the waves crashing against the shore. I live in a perfect location for meditation yet I still battle to meditate.

4) Live in the Present

A Chinese proverb says that if you are worried about the past you are depressed, and if you worry about the future you are anxious – you need to focus on living in the present. That is why I love doing sports, and riding my Harley, because it forces you into the present. Meditation also forces you into the present, but if you are a nutcase like me, sport and Harleys is an easier option

5) Eat well and Get Plenty of Sleep

You need to be very careful with your brain because it can and will play tricks on you. The brain is a powerful beast, but it is riddled with flaws. The brain was first designed to identify threats – wild animals that could enter your cave and eat you in your sleep, invading tribes that wanted to steal your food, and women. Luckily, many of these threats have disappeared but the configuration of the brain is still more or less the same. This faulty brain does not normally notice the role of sleep and blood sugar in the formation of ideas. So the brain might tell you to do something stupid (like get divorced or quit your job) instead of taking a nap or having a snack to get your blood sugar levels up. You are not yourself when you are hungry or sleep deprived – you are more vulnerable to feelings of anxiety.

6) Keep Your Brain Busy

When you have too much time on your hands, your mind tends to wander. I retired when I was 48. By the time I was 50, my second marriage had ended and I had too much time on my hands. My mind started to wonder – and not always in a good way. Fuck, was I going to be alone for the rest of my life – was I going to be that crazy old man that shouts at the neighbors to turn the music down? Would I die alone in my sleep and only be discovered when a horrible stench wafted across the overgrown grass of my garden into the road?

The mind works in unusual ways. We believe that once work is done and the summit has been reached, the mind will be content and will cease with its restlessness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The brain can only handle short periods of idleness, after which it will start with its fucking nagging. Pretty soon it will start to question if you are worthy or not. By keeping yourself busy, you are able to tame your nagging brain, and keep your anxiety in check.

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