Accepting anxiety is one of life’s major challenges. Everybody has a range of acceptable anxiety. As soon as anxiety gets out of the acceptable range it becomes painful. Addressing anxiety is not a question of controlling our circumstances to eliminate the potential for anxiety. To address our anxiety we increase our range of acceptable anxiety.
We are born to be anxious. A baby becomes anxious when its mother averts her gaze. When the anxiety gets beyond a certain range, the baby cries and the mother responds. When we get older, life gets more complicated. Our anxiety range gets much larger. We learn that we can act to relieve our own anxiety. When anxiety is in an optimal range we act and address the problem, it motivates us. When anxiety gets to be too great, it can paralyze us. At that point, we want to cry for our mommies, but we can’t do that anymore. Our problems are beyond our mother’s ability to soothe.
If you are prone to anxiety, as we all are to some extent, you can increase your tolerance by learning from your experience of anxiety. Your experience of anxiety is different from the circumstance of your anxiety. Imagine that no matter what your circumstance, you will feel anxious for four hours out of every day. How difficult would it be to come up with things to be anxious about for four hours per day? Simple. Any worry can expand to fill four hours if you try to ignore it. It can fill 24 hours, if you are unlucky enough. That is why medication works to ease anxiety. Medication doesn’t change your circumstance, it changes your experience. Meditation also works to address anxiety. It doesn’t change your circumstance, but it allows you to build acceptance of your anxiety. When you understand that anxiety is not the only reaction to your circumstance, you can begin to address your experience of anxiety.
Anxiety changes your body chemistry and your body accepts and expects a certain level of anxiety. Your mind provides the expected level. As you understand your experience of anxiety and observe its patterns in your life, you will learn to accept its place in your life. With acceptance comes relief.