How to calm anxiety with spiritual thinking

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World Mental Health Day. A day for awareness, guidance, hope and understanding. A day for sharing thoughts. My topic? The Law of Attraction.

Hmmm, why have I chosen to discuss the Law of Attraction? Simple. My belief in its power has helped to improve my mental health (rather than hinder it as I had once feared). Whether this “law” exists or not isn’t particularly important. The very idea of the Law of Attraction can be enough to have a profoundly positive impact on your thoughts. Mental health conditions often provoke feelings of disconnection. Emptiness. A black hole. Exploring a possible power that connects you to the universe might sound strange to you, but I’m living proof that it helps.

I’m also having therapy at the moment, for reasons I can’t describe as anything but surpassing the point of “too much”. Too much change, too much loss, too much confusion. Consumed, exhausted, feeling the fear of something completely indistinguishable creeping in; the fear of the unknown.

A little while ago, I wrote about my experience of manifestation – using the power of your thoughts to attract what you truly want. A sort of energy boomerang that gives you exactly what you cast out. I wanted to feel more peaceful.

Can peaceful thoughts really pave the way for a peaceful life?

In many ways, they can.

In my post, I identified the downsides to this theory, most crucially that believing your thoughts have the power to affect reality can be a pretty dangerous notion for someone with OCD. My intrusive thoughts were once so bad I couldn’t quite distinguish between real life and what was happening in my mind (cue hiding from imaginary burglars). These thoughts were so uncontrollably realistic (and scary) that they felt like premonitions – a common symptom of OCD. And so, when I first started reading into manifestation, I disregarded its supposed power for fear of igniting the opposite end of the spectrum: scarier intrusive thoughts that might create an uncontrollably negative life.

Thankfully, I learned to overcome these intrusive thoughts three years ago with the help of a CBT therapist. Compelled to fight this fear of my own imagination, I contemplated everything in my life that I had truly, deeply wished for. I realised that I had, in one way or another, been able to make them happen by trusting my instincts and following my heart. My job, my partner, my home, my most treasured experiences and memories. All of them a product of learning what I wanted, imagining it would happen and making it a reality.

Manifestation is not about believing your that weird (often wonderful) thoughts are real, it’s about learning how to use your thoughts to distinguish and drive what you want from your life. And in many ways, it has actually helped to change the way I think and take back control of my mind. To be more present, more aware of my thoughts when they aren’t particularly healthy, more able to steer them back round to focussing on life-enriching goals and not the scary, uncontrollable concerns.

How to use the law of attraction to get what you want? Easy. Know in your heart what you want. Actually, this is sometimes not so easy. The beauty of LOA is more that it helps you to identify what you desire, and therefore helps to initiate the start of the journey towards that thing.

You see, some days I want to move to the countryside and (dare I say it) have A BABY, and some days I want rent out my flat and live in a bell tent in Zanzibar. If, like me, you feel torn between multiple paths most of the time, it can be helpful to start small. Rather than thinking about what the future should hold, try thinking about what you need to thrive right now, and then focus on that thing.

Here’s my most recent experience…

As someone who used to party loads and see her favourite bands and DJs pretty regularly, I was really craving the musical connection and euphoria that comes from shared singing, raving and dancing to music you and everyone around you is so moved by. I was craving shared emotion and human connection on a larger scale. I expressed two heartfelt desires – human connection and live music – desires that I knew would nourish the parts of me that had felt depleted for some time. Shortly after, four of the loveliest girls invited me to Edinburgh with them for the weekend. It was the feeling of “this is exactly what I needed” times 10000.

That same weekend, after years of attempting, I also got tickets to Glastonbury. A genuine dream come true. Coincidence, you say? Sure, of course it can be. That’s sort of the point. Because it’s all about making your life what you want it to be. Want it to be just be a coincidence? Then that’s what it is. Want to feel like you have the power to shape your own destiny by identifying what your soul needs to thrive? That’s cool, too.

And another thing. During this magical weekend in Edinburgh, I became instantly drawn to a ring on a jewellery stand. Rhodochrosite. A precious stone I wasn’t familiar with. I bought it, wore it straight away and felt a strange sensation within minutes, like a heavy emotional blockage sort of dissolving from the centre of me (FYI, my therapist has identified that I have symptoms of post-traumatic stress). Anyhoo, I walked along in the rain, happily chatting with my friend, and felt the most peaceful I had done in weeks. I couldn’t put my finger on it (pun intended), I just felt good. Later than night, I looked up the properties of a Rhodochrosite stone, not knowing whether it was even a real thing, and this is the answer I found:

“Rhodochrosite emanates one of the most tender and loving energies of any stone, soothing the heart, comforting the soul, and vibrating to the frequencies of inner peace. It is a marvellous talisman of joy and healing, of embracing one’s rightful powers and rising to one’s full potential.”

And so, my belief is this… listen to your heart. Trust your desires. Tune into your own frequency of longing. Do this, and the things you truly want and need will find their way to you, too.

 

 

 

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The law of attraction and why it works

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Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. A cult-classic self-help book that claims your thoughts can change the world, thanks to the universal ‘law of attraction’.

I have to say, I was incredibly sceptical when I picked up this book last year. After a lifetime of worrying that negative thoughts could impact real life (touch the wall 100 times to keep your family safe kinda thing), I didn’t want to delve into the idea that thoughts aren’t just thoughts. That thoughts can manifest as reality. With the wrong kind of uncontrollable thoughts, that’s really scary shit.

HOWEVER. As with most things, curiosity got the better of me. I devoured the book in two days and I have to say it did actually help to give a better perspective on the way I think. We’ll ignore the fact that most of the theorists look like the same white middle class man, because the premise of the book isn’t exactly original anyway. Paulo Coelho’s classic fable The Alchemist is by far the more beautiful version.

Whichever genre you prefer, both books teach the importance of positive energy. The role of energy in the world is bloody fascinating. Because if it can’t be created or destroyed, where does our energy go?

The reason I’m writing this post is because, however lame it sounds, I have sensed a big shift in my life since I read The Secret last year. The shift being that I didn’t realise how negative my thoughts had become, and how much could change once I actually focussed on changing.

The Secret teaches that negative thoughts give off vibrations of negativity, which the universe echoes back to you in the form of more negativity. You are what you attract. Simple. If you focus your energy on ‘what’s lacking’, ‘glass half empty’, ‘woe is me’ you’re effectively telling the universe that this is what’s shaping your destiny because it’s what you think about the most. You are the author of your life – the universe simply responds.

If the universe truly is conspiring to give you want you want, then you’ll never get there if you’re focussing all your energy on what you don’t want.

The Secret, is simply, to ask the universe for what you want, and focus your energy on believing it will happen.

Stay with me.

There have been a handful of moments in my life where I’ve actively thought to myself, I want this. Not in a superficial kind of way, more like, I was meant to do this.

When I was fresh out of Uni, living with my parents, and writing for pittance, I came across an ad for well-paid Senior Copywriter job in Central London. The dream. It gave me hope that even though I was struggling at that time, there was an end goal in site. Potential. Hope. A reason for what I was doing. I thought to myself, that’s what I’m going to do. And when I look back now, I believed it, too.

Seven years later, I now earn that exact sum for that exact type of job. I started a few weeks ago and it feels more right than any job ever has. It’s quite literally the result of all my other professional experiences. And the best part? The job was created for me. I actually interviewed for a different job, and from that interview this job, salary and all, was offered to me bespoke. I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this because I genuinely feel that I’ve got this far because I never allowed myself to believe that I wouldn’t. I never shrouded my career aspirations in negative thoughts.

So, why is it then, that I struggle to apply the same positivity to other aspects of my life?

When I write, it feels right. It feels natural. And I never question how or why that is. For some reason, I rarely feel like this about anything else. I doubt. I question. I can’t make decisions. I often can’t decide what I want.

And so, identifying with the law of attraction helped me to assimilate that that if I can place so much positive energy on my career, why not actively apply the same principle to other aspects of my life?

It actually worked.

Around this time last year, I had been through a weird time and had to do a lot of soul  searching. I asked myself what I truly, deeply wanted. Stability. With this in mind, I willed myself to focus on what stability might look like, and how I could start putting steps in place to make this happen.

Less than three months later, the universe responded with a one-bedroom flat. I went from never believing I would get a mortgage on my own to telling myself that somehow, I would make it happen. And now my little flat serves as a reminder that with the right energy, the right insight, the right people in your life, anything is possible.

If you’re actively trying to lead a more positive life, there’s loads of good stuff to take away from The Secret. Buy it on Amazon today. It might just push you in the direction you need.

The Secret - Book - Rhonda Byrne

 

Do you have high-functioning anxiety?

 

On Thursday 24th May, I started a new job. I also discovered the unwelcome return of my old mate, anxiety.

On Friday 25th May, I started writing a blog post about dealing with anxiety when you’re desperate to make a good impression. An impression as a professional, intelligent person who’s confident in what they do.

I deleted the post. Fearing that said post might hinder said good impression.

And then I read this article on Refinery29 – Are You One Of The Many Women Suffering From ‘High-Functioning Anxiety’? – and I felt a little foolish. After being someone who has always advocated speaking out about mental health, I was afraid of being judged. When, truth be told, to beat the prejudice you have to first overcome it for yourself. You have to keep sharing until it feels normal, for both speaker and listener.

In my original post, I started to detail my horror at experiencing old feelings of anxiety creeping in. Intrusive thoughts I’d learned to control a few years ago started to rear their big ugly heads during the build-up to my first day on the job, and for days afterwards, too. Lack of sleep, poor concentration, pounding heart, restless legs, a crowded mind, surges of adrenaline pumping through my body at the smallest things, like getting the train or choosing what to eat.

All the while, I walked and talked with unwavering confidence, smiling brightly at every new person I met. I guess you could say that I’m one of the many women with ‘high-functioning anxiety’. I actually find that I subconsciously use the adrenaline it creates to fuel my day. But the energy source is a futile one, and come bedtime I am totally done in.

I’m well aware that my anxiety is driven by OCD and the fear of things not being perfect, and so to address the symptoms I sometimes have to re-familiarise myself with the cause. I suppose I’ve been going round in circles like that all my life really, gaining a better understanding with each and every ‘phase’.

The most useful thing I’ve understood about battling OCD is that it’s a bully. And what do they teach you at school? Yep. To stand up to bullies. Call their bluff. Dare them to do their worst. Chances are, they’ll soon back off.

And so when anxiety creeps into my life and tries to sabotage the most important occasions, I take a moment to reflect on all the things I’ve done to look fear in the face, and remind myself that if I can jump out of a plane, get tattoos, go white water rafting, and get a mortgage, then I sure as hell can get through this day.

Over the bank holiday weekend, I caught the tube to Covent Garden to meet my boyfriend and some friends of his I hadn’t met before. Meeting new people is a typical trigger for anxiety sufferers, but not something I’ve experienced for years thanks to the ever-changing nature of my job. I’m used to it. But for some reason I couldn’t shake the nerves. I was furious with myself for feeling so worried, which only made things worse. In the grip of anxiety, it’s hard to think straight. I felt terrified and lost wandering through the usually familiar square, I couldn’t work my phone, and I felt tears welling up and panic flood my chest. I rang my boyfriend, and OCD told me to say “I’m not coming”. I recognised this attack instantly – the way it tries to stop you living your life. OCD wants you to be a recluse, FYI. So I consciously stood up to the bully and went for brunch instead.

And just like that, normality resumes and anxiety fades away.  Those mini inner battles can be immense triumphs – if you confront anxiety, I promise you will always win.

The next day at work I felt calm and in control. Like normal. Maybe the first-day nerves disappeared by themselves. Or maybe it’s about recognising when you’re vulnerable and  taking a moment to nurture yourself.

People often tell me how calm I am. It’s something I work very hard at. Calmness is a commodity I value extremely highly. Being told I am calm is on hell of a compliment – like when someone tells you how nice you look when you’re having a bad hair day.

The truth is, people don’t always see you the way you see yourself. Your internal monologue has a lot to answer for. They say that you should talk to yourself the way you would a close friend… “You’re doing so well”, “You’re look beautiful”, “You’ve totally go this”.

OCD isn’t a close friend. It never talks to you this way. And yet sufferers can’t help but hold it close. The negative, threatening voice indoctrinates your thoughts and tries to erode who you really are.

It’s vital to separate yourself from those thoughts to confront and overcome the anxiety they produce.

But how to take back control?

When I start to feel anxiety creeping in, I make an extra effort to be kind to myself, to nourish the deepest part of me in order to keep it safe. That means eating well, running, meditating and spending time both alone and with people I love. All of those things bring a sense of control and purpose that anxiety finds it difficult to penetrate.

As someone who is naturally introverted, I go to great lengths to mimic outgoing confidence because, well, fortune favours the brave (and the assertive). And when you pretend to be something in a positive way, you can actually manifest it for yourself. Hellooo, Sasha Fierce? Beyoncé was definitely onto something.

So, next time anxious thoughts start taking over, take a moment to assess the opportunities you’re giving them to have a voice. Fill that space with goodness and confidence in the form of positive thoughts and actions. It’s really hard sometimes, but it’s always worth the fight.