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Quit Feeling Anxious About Your Anxiety

By Debra Kissen

If you are feeling anxious about your anxiety, I have some good news for you. There’s actually nothing to be afraid of. I have looked under the bed and there is no boogie man. Anxiety is all bark and no bite. It can’t hurt you. It is not dangerous. It is simply annoying. Fearing your anxiety and doing everything in your power to not experience it is only “feeding the beast” and creating more of the very thing you desperately hope to not experience. The key to breaking the cycle of fearing anxiety and hence creating more anxiety is to learn to no longer fear it.

Unfortunately you can’t simply explain and remind yourself that there’s nothing to fear and that anxiety is not dangerous. In fact, I’m sure you have tried countless times to tell yourself to stop freaking out and calm down because there’s actually nothing wrong. Yelling at ourselves to calm down only makes us feel more anxious. What we must instead do is teach the fear network of our brain that it is actually safe and sound and not in danger when the sensations of anxiety surface. This can be accomplished through interoceptive exposure. Interoceptive exposure is a fancy term for a simple concept. It means intentionally practicing experiencing the sensations associated with anxiety (tightness in chest, rapid heart beat, tingly hands, feeling hot and flushed, etc) over and over again until your brain grows bored of these feelings. By doing this you will teach your brain that the sensations of anxiety sensations may be uncomfortable but they cannot hurt you.

Consider for example having a migraine or falling down and scraping your knee. Will you experience discomfort? Yes. But will you fear the discomfort? No. You will never love the sensations of anxiety and be thrilled when they show up but you can arrive at a place where you’re no longer freaked out about them. By doing this you will break the cycle of feeling anxious about your anxiety. All you will be left with are moments of discomfort instead of a lifetime of suffering.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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