First things first - I have been avoiding speaking out about anxiety. It's something I have definitely shared throughout the years in social spaces, public speaking appearances and with the people that know me well, but I've been hesitant to really open up about my experiences and how my entire life changed in relation to anxiety because it doesn't really go with the mainstream/popular narrative. I've also gotten comments about my education and questions about being certified etc so I've held back because it was easier. I don't need a certificate to know my own experiences. I don't need a formal education to tell me things I've experienced for 25 years. I'm finally moving away from proving to anyone that I "know what I'm talking about" - I lived it. If that's important to someone, great! Go seek that. I digress 😉 The more I explore myself deeply and hear from clients who are implementing the things I'm sharing and how they're witnessing changes, I realize this is such a prevalent challenge for so many and what if sharing how things have worked for me, could help one person? What if it could help many?
I have learned that our pain stories are our medicine both in how we heal from them but also how we share them and invite others into their own healing through them. Of course things are different for every individual - our experiences often look very different. But when it comes to anxiety, I believe there is a commonality that, when nurtured deeply, has the ability to loosen the reigns and allow us to experience freedom from those previous binds. That's what I want to share with you here. And it's going to be something you're seeing more and more of from me because after decades of attempting everything under the sun to help with my personal anxiety, I learned a LOT of what doesn't work - and one thing that truly, genuinely does.
A lot of anxiety and anxious feelings we experience are adaptions due to trauma. As a reminder, trauma is varied on a broad scale from a conversation or comment made by someone to you or that you simply heard, to a situation you were witness to, and all the way to abuse of any kind, death or other physical trauma. Many of these things freeze in our subconscious and form beliefs and fears by which our lives begin to adapt to protect us from. Meaning - we develop behaviours as coping mechanisms to keep us safe so that same feeling of the trauma won't reoccur. We adapt our behaviour to help ourself. And this works in many cases to help us avoid danger and genuinely keep ourselves safe. Many of these internal vows were made long ago, and create a system by which we measure ourself and our capabilities. These adaptations are so powerful that just the thought of it happening again (whether it's humiliation, loss of control, fear of rejection, risk of being abandoned, feeling pain or aloneness), creates physical reactions like elevated heart rate, sweat, shortness of breath, extreme sadness, and so many more. In many ways we are reliving that trauma - re-experiencing that pain and hurt (this is how PSTD is a thing) and reacting from that space.
Anxiety is a trauma adaptation. It's something that birthed from pain and suffering that you experienced in your life probably a long time ago, and is directly related to the core wounds we all have from our lifetime. Exploring the core wounds is the starting point - the entry way into freedom. I invite you to consider diving into MOTHER WOUND + FATHER WOUND as a first step to reclaiming your life from anxiety. From there you can focus on what I'm sharing below that is the most impactful thing I've found to date to help you calm yourself in any situation: connect to your inner child.
The inner child is the gatekeeper to your upper limits and is what's keeping you from your highest potential. It's the pieces of your subconscious that are holding onto those trauma's and feeding you the adaptations via your brain/inner dialogue. They're constantly seeking love, attention, nurturing and protection. When you nurture, support and give love to those inner children, the inner dialogue quiets, the physical body calms, and the anxiety melts away. I have seen this time and time and time again in my own practice and with clients - it works. Here's how:
1. Identify the ways that anxious feelings pop up for you. Are there specific scenarios where it's elevated? Do you notice any cycles with it coming up? Is it worse when you're at capacity and keep pushing? Does it show up in specific ways? What does it feel like? It's important to take inventory here so you know what to look for. My personal inventory would say:
when I feel I'm not able to get out/escape/be in control
when I'm tired and not well nourished
often more prevalent in the mornings
when I've not been connected to myself/had alone time
feels like heart racing, palm sweating, constant stomach dropping, scary
also feels like I need to go to the bathroom immediately (that good old nervous poop)
2. When those symptoms begin to come to mind and the what if thoughts start racing, there is an inner child/subconscious trauma adaptation at play. This internal piece of us is calling out for love, nurturing and support - for a parent to give those things. We take on that role of the inner parent and we GIVE to that piece of ourself, everything they need that they feel they didn't get from that original experience. We do this in two steps:
Validate: affirm the feelings - "I know you're scared right now" or "I know you feel afraid"
Reparent: "I'm here with you, and we're going to do this together" or "I will always advocate for you and protect you" or "I've got you. I'm here every step of the way" - whatever really feels powerful and resonant for YOU. It should hit a nerve, spark an emotion, FEEL deep and powerful and strong.
You say this in your mind, to your inner child/children. You give them your presence, love and support. You tend to yourself in this deep way so they build trust with you and eventually begin to calm more and more because they know they're safe.
I want to share how I use this to better illustrate the process. When I was 11, I pooped by pants in music class after the teacher told me I couldn't go to the bathroom until after we finished a film. Obviously I could not wait. This led to extreme humiliation, fear of authority, broken trust in my body because I always felt like it failed me and I couldn't trust it to do what it was "supposed" to do. From that point on I became afraid to eat (if there was nothing in my stomach I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom), afraid to leave my house (what if I couldn't get to a bathroom), afraid to hang out with friends (because what if I had to go to the bathroom more than once - what would they think) and afraid to be in public places (what if there was no bathroom I could use). My entire life revolved around those thoughts and I convinced myself of many things over the years through the adaptations like that I didn't like nature or hiking, shopping, going to the park, going to concerts - I could go on for 4 more pages but you get the point. It was the coloured lens through which I viewed my whole life. Anxiety made all the decisions for me - it wasn't truly ME or what I wanted or didn't. I couldn't even decipher the difference because I felt I had no choice. In my teen years I used over the counter medication to numb the fear. Later that changed to booze, weed, food and sex.
In the summer of 2018 I decided I wanted to try going off medication because I had been doing personal development and felt maybe I had a new awareness around anxiousness that I could apply. That was the first super scary decision that changed my life. From there I worked with coaches on deep integrative subconscious healing and began to understand the adaptations I'd formed and why they were so emotionally charged. That gave me the ability to recognize the core fears and wounding, which opened the door to reaching those deep spaces with exactly what was needed to help heal them. Going through Liana's Mother and Father wound courses was the second super scary decision that changed my life. I wish I could bring you into my body to properly show you how different things feel and how every time I use the process I highlighted above, my body calms (it's like I can feel it relax inside), my inner dialogue dissipates and the anxiety drains from my body. It happens in seconds. Sometimes I have to do this repeatedly but it's so impactful and powerful and had truly changed my ability to show up in my life. I can actually decide what I like and don't like now without that cloud looming! I can do things I love. I feel empowered and cared for. I stopped caring what other people think because I know I love myself and it's my responsibility to tend to my inner landscape with love and protection - not someone else's job.
I've never gone back to medication. I have been sober from everything for a year. I have a deeply loving and connected relationship with that 11 year old and it's only getting stronger. I feel freedom for the first time in close to 25 years. It's magical and beautiful and I'm incredibly grateful.
If you feel called to begin your journey, check out the links for the mother and father wound courses above, and at minimum do those two steps and start forming the relationship with your scared inner child. Help that part of you to feel validated and nurtured and do it consistently. Of course I can't promise promise - but I feel very confident this will create BIG shifts in your life.