What is Anxiety and How to Overcome It

Inside, Anxiety Might Sound Like:

Our mind is focused on things that haven’t happened yet.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

So How Do You Stop Future Thinking?

First, notice when you’re getting preoccupied with future things that haven’t happened yet, then use mindfulness of the breath as a quick and easy way back to the present.

What's Mindfulness?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, nonjudgmental. Obviously, we breathe all the time, however, the breath is always happening in the present moment and most of the time we breathe without paying attention.

If we purposely pay attention to the breath, we come back from future thinking and into the present moment. When we’re present, we can find peace and enjoy our lives because we’re here now and not in the future.

Here’s a practice process using mindfulness of the breath right now.

John's Story

I taught my client John how to become present using the breath. John works as a security officer at an alternative school. Part of his job is watching kids in detention. The kids can get pretty wild. One day, one of the teenagers got up and began throwing a giant tantrum, complaining how they didn’t want to be there in detention. As the stress of the situation kept building, John kept breathing, he stayed focused on his breath.


John confronted the student and the student threw a pencil at John. John was so present that he was able to knock the pencil aside out of the air. The kid was so impressed that he promptly sat back down and didn’t make a peep for the rest of the detention. So John was able to use the breath to stay present and to create a very, very different outcome in the situation

Fighting Against the Worry Keeps You Stuck in it

What you resist persists so what you fight against, you give negative energy to, which allows it to sustain itself or grow, like the picture below with the donkey and the bellhop. We often become the bellhop fighting against the anxiety, saying to it, “I wish you weren’t here.” “I wish I wasn’t feeling this way.”

We resist it. And as a result, it hangs around and gets stronger.

What we want to do is give the emotions, in this case anxiety, the space it needs to move through. When you give the emotions, the space they need to move through to integrate, they usually do.

Here is a practice process from my book called the Aura Process so that we can experience what it’s like to give the emotions the space they need.

What that process does is give the emotion that you were experiencing the space that needed to integrate and to move through. I find that in most cases, most emotions will integrate after one or two repetitions of that process. Really intense emotions may need a few repetitions.

What we want to do is give the emotions, in this case anxiety, the space it needs to move through. When you give the emotions, the space they need to move through to integrate, they usually do.

Now you know how to deal with the worry when it’s already here.

Frank’s Story

Frank works as a high level finance executive, he is regularly required to go to networking meetings at work. However, he felt very nervous about going and meeting new people. How would he make conversation? The thought of it would make his palms sweat and his body shake. As he went to one of these events, he could feel the worry building up in his system as he imagined having awkward, uncomfortable conversations. He was able to use the aura process to let the worry move through.

He gave the worry the space it needed and afterwards felt more relaxed. He was able to have some enjoyable connecting conversations at the event. So John was able to use the oral process to give the emotions, the space they needed and as a result was able to enjoy himself. When you give the emotions, the space they need to integrate, they usually do. You can use the aura process at any time to work through difficult emotions.

Now you have the tools to prevent anxious feelings from arising by coming back to the present moment, and for moving through the anxiety when it’s already here using the Aura Process.
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By David Redbord, MA, MPH, LPCC
#1 International Bestselling Author and Walking Therapist

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