You are not alone, I think this is one of the most valuable sentences that I have ever heard as well one of the most powerful sentences I have ever spoken.
Many of us who have suffered the wrath of their own noise inside of their heads will understand what I mean. When that little voice in your head says things like “you cant apply for that job, you don’t know enough” or “you should go to a gym, you are not fit enough” or “OMG I cant go to a gym, Im too….” Sound familiar?
Its THAT noise in our head that can have detrimental effects on the way we live. When it gains momentum and power, it begins to change the way that we feel too, then in a snowball like effect it becomes more and more of who we are.
The way that the consistent noise makes us feel is the language of the amygdala, an intriguing part of our brain particularly for those prone to anxiety as a default setting. When we keep listening to that noise in our head we “feed” the amygdala, which in turn changes the way that we feel and the way that we live. Let me give you an example.
Generalised fear is when you are concerned for your wellbeing in a certain, present situation. It doesn’t last long. You could be crossing a busy street, you may have been approached by an unfamiliar dog or you may have hit turbulence on a flight and you may fear for your safety.
The difference between fear and generalised anxiety however, is when even the thought of that situation makes you FEEL a certain way. The thought of an unfamiliar dog increases your heart rate, gives you butterflies in your stomach or brings on a feeling of dread. This is the language of your amygdala, it also stores feeling memories. (You know that time that you had to do that speech at your best friends Wedding and you were super nervous? Your amygdala remembers that and draws on that memory as a yard stick. That time you met someone new and you had trouble with your words and felt as though you couldn’t participate in a valuable conversation, yard stick again.)
Where anxiety can snowball
Heres the most interesting thing! Those “feeling” memories are part of who you are, you can draw on them at any time it just depends on how much noise your brain makes as to whether this is a positive experience or if it grows into a more negative one.
Your brain noise might be questioning your ability to talk to new people or public speak, depending on how much air time you give that noise. This is a pivotal point between balance and anxious thoughts taking over.
In a negative outcome you will anticipate a public speaking event or social event as being a concern because you “didn’t do it right” the last time. As these thoughts re-circulate, in my own personal experience you begin to believe them to be true. In a more pronounced outcome, you choose not to public speak or go out socially as the lead up can be exhausting. You change the way you show up every day and the way that you live. Suddenly anxiety is holding you back, it is changing your life and you become a spectator rather than an active participant in your own story.
Part of the solution
Voicing your concerns is one way to assess whether they are valid or just brain noise. When you bounce your concerns around with a friend or family member, with the intention of creating a solution, you will often notice a repeating pattern.
I personally found that the more I talked about the way that my brain works and the noise it can make, the more I realised that I was not alone. This was incredibly powerful for me and has the same effect on my anxiety clients. Having the understanding that many people have the same concerns as I did helped me to break free of the pattern. Drawing on experience of what is real and what is just the noise inside my head.
Another tool that has been incredibly useful is the regular use of Omvana or Insight Timer as a mindful app. Keeping your stream of thoughts less cluttered has been a great practise. I say practise as it is not something that you can do only once and expect miraculous results!! You actually have to bring it into your daily routine. Many of the tracks are short and ideal for beginners, you can choose your level.
I see many anxiety sufferers in my clinic, particularly because I have a very clear understanding of how it is effecting their lives as I have personally walked that path too.
I would love to hear about your experiences and what you have found to be true for you. I have recently had a chat with my son about starting the new year of school. His anxieties were related to having a new teacher and a new class. Its been an excellent reminder for him to use his techniques that provide a solution rather than feeding his brain noise. With help we will make the transition a smooth one.
If this information has been useful to you and you know someone else who would benefit, please feel free to share.
Join in on the conversations that we have on Facebook, lets enlighten others and give those who have never spoken up a voice.