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There are many words we might use to describe how anxiety makes us feel: uncomfortable, scared, unsettled, conflicted, anxious, antsy, nervous, attacked, unsafe, and out of control. But there is one thing that almost everyone can agree on: It feels bad. In fact, anxiety is often described to me as a deep-seated feeling that something bad is happening or is about to happen.
But anxiety may not be what you think. Which can make it really hard to heal.
Despite popular belief, anxiety is not “just fear” that can be worked through with enough therapy. And while anxiety can be linked to certain medical and psychiatric conditions, many people who struggle with anxiety have seen doctor after doctor with no relief.
Is it time to look at anxiety in a new way?
The feeling of something bad happening, even if there is no medical condition, is actually quite accurate because something bad is happening inside of you. Your body is feeling unresolved emotional energy, or baggage, that’s stuck in your system.
Anxiety comes from your body being in freak-out mode, not because of what’s happening outside of you but because of what’s stuck inside of you. While external circumstances outside of your control certainly may trigger you, that is not the actual origin of anxiety.
The feeling of anxiety arises because your body is trying so hard to keep old emotional baggage contained, and it’s just too much for anyone to hold. Anxiety manifests when stored emotional energy is trying to bubble up and out. Anxiety can be caused by any emotional baggage that you have not dealt with. I’ve seen as many people with anxiety due to suppressed anger and frustration as due to fear.
To heal anxiety, you first need to understand it. Here’s 3 truths that will help you do just that.
1. Anxiety Shows Up In Sneaky Ways
Many people have anxiety and yet have absolutely none of the typical symptoms you might imagine. Knowing how anxiety is showing up in your life can help you be more aware of how it’s affecting you.
Anxiety can manifest in ways you may not even be aware of, including:
• Negative, compulsive, or obsessive thoughts
• Needing to be in control of life and others
• Inability to relax
• Difficulty making decisions
• Resistance to accepting help from others
• Feeling shaky or unstable
• Feeling sad, angry, or pretty much any other difficult emotion
• Being moody
• Inability to concentrate
2. Anyone Can Be Affected by Anxiety
Many believe that only weak or highly emotional people get anxiety. People who experience anxiety often feel bad about themselves, feeling delicate and unable to handle life in the way that others can. Sometimes these perceptions do actually become beliefs that perpetuate anxiety. Imagine subconsciously telling yourself all day, “I can’t handle life” or “I’m so delicate.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many people who experience anxiety have a constitutional makeup or personality traits that actually tend toward anxiety, such as being highly empathic, overachieving, self-sacrificing, self-critical, or always being the “strong” one or a Type-A perfectionist who prides themselves on keeping everything under control.
Anxiety sufferers are often in leadership and caretaking roles and are able to “do or conquer anything.” These are awesome personality traits. However, these people may also take on the world at the expense of themselves.
3. One Reason You Can’t “Just Get Over It”
Many anxiety sufferers are told that it’s all in their head and they should just get over it, take deep breaths, or don’t stress so much. It’s not hard to end up feeling like anxiety is your fault—that if only you had more willpower or discipline you could fix this. But, of course, it’s not nearly that easy. One of the reasons it’s impossible to take that approach is because your body is stuck in freak-out mode.
When your body is stuck in fight, flight, or freeze—or what I call freak-out mode—it’s very difficult to heal. This freak-out mode is linked to the triple warmer meridian (an energy pathway in your body’s energy system), which governs the fight, flight, or freeze response in the body. It affects the nervous system, immune system, and so much more. This freak-out response essentially creates a feeling of danger in your whole system. Anxiety is not just in your head; it’s in your entire body. In order to fully heal, you need to train your body to be relaxed and calm. In other words, you need to get your body out of freak-out mode and into healing mode.
Emotions that you felt in the past can get lodged in the body and contribute to this freak-out mode. When they become stuck, you are essentially feeling each of those emotions (which can number in the hundreds or thousands) at a low level all the time. So it’s no surprise now why you’re feeling so uncomfortable, right? In addition, the sheer force of having to “hold” all of these unexpressed emotions can create a sense of anxiety.
How to Heal Anxiety
There are many ways to deal with stuck emotions that contribute to anxiety. Thymus tapping is one of them.
The thymus gland is the master gland of the body’s immune system and is located in the upper part of the chest, behind the breastbone. It sits right over the heart. The thymus is vital to the healthy functioning of the immune system and is connected to the entire energy system and is so powerful that it can work as a stress modulator when stimulated.
A lot of people are naturally drawn to the thymus area when they are feeling anxious and don’t even realize that their body is trying to help them tend to this special gland.
How to Use Thymus Tapping: First, try to tune into the anxiety and ask yourself: “If there was an emotion under this anxiety, what would it be?” Remember, anxiety happens from suppressing emotions. That’s why identifying the true emotion your body is very helpful. Next, tap the thymus gland using your fingertips to help your body release that stuck emotion. Don’t try to push it away; allow it to be. Tapping will help usher it out of your body if you allow it to come up.
As you tap, you can say, “releasing this _______ (say the emotion)” a few times. Take some deep breaths. Repeat until you feel relief.
Now that you know these truths about anxiety, your new job is only to honor them—and trust that your healing is right around the corner.
Amy B. Scher is an expert in mind-body healing and the bestselling author of How To Heal Yourself From Anxiety When No One Else Can and two other books. This piece was adapted from her new book, How To Heal Yourself From Anxiety When No One Else Can (Llewellyn Worldwide, February 2019).