In this podcast (episode #303) and blog, I speak with Caroline Foran, bestselling author, speaker, journalist, blogger, and top podcast host about making anxiety work for you and not against you, why anxiety is a signal and not a disease, how to manage anxiety using your incredible mind, and so much more!
Often, when you are going through a rough patch with anxiety, all the information and expert advice out there can be overwhelming. Sometimes all you want is to hear from someone who had a similar experience to you and that they still managed to get through it; you want to hear that there is hope. This is why Caroline does what she does; she wants to share her own experiences, what she has learned, and how she manages her own anxiety. She wants people to know there is always hope!
We need to remind ourselves that anxiety is normal, not abnormal. It is part of what it means to be human and experience life. Indeed, we should normalize not just talking about anxiety but experiencing it in the moment. If someone is having a bad day and they say that they are struggling with anxiety, that is okay! No one should feel guilty for having normal, human emotions and experiences.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that if we feel something like anxiety, we need to let it happen AND we need to be kind to ourselves afterward! As Caroline notes in her amazing book Owning it: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety, the key to managing anxiety is not getting rid of it or fixing it but managing it, which means it no longer controls us. When we own our anxiety, our life can transform in ways we never thought possible!
Part of coming to terms with our anxiety involves being vulnerable with both ourselves and those we trust. However, although vulnerability is the one thing we all have in common, it often is the one thing many of us try to hide behind. Yetvulnerability and sensitivity are not weaknesses. We do not have to be made of steel or become a robot to be “successful”. When we start owning our vulnerability, our life can open up in ways we never imagined. It breaks down all sorts of barriers!
But vulnerability doesn’t just mean we crying all the time. It means that we are bringing our most authentic self to the forefront. True vulnerability makes room for our humanness. When we are vulnerable, we give ourselves space to process difficult emotions and states of mind. We learn how to work with ourselves instead of against ourselves.
As Caroline talks about in her book and on her podcast, when we are anxious, instead of running away from those feelings, which can often make the anxiety worse, we should embrace them and ask ourselves things like:
- What are these feelings trying to tell me?
- What should I be aware of?
- What is going on in my life?
- What may support me better in this moment?
We need to see our anxiety as a signal or messenger, not a life sentence.
During this process, kindness is key. Self-compassion is an incredible tool when it comes to managing anxiety. Instead of stressing ourselves out more by feeling angry or guilty that we feel a certain way, being kind to ourselves helps regulate the stress response!
And part of self-compassion means not discounting how we feel or why. Minor traumas that may seem ordinary can accumulate and impact our mental health, especially when we are young, so don’t just think that they can be ignored or suppressed or are “too silly”.
For more on living with anxiety, listen to my podcast with Caroline (episode #303) and check out her website, podcast and books. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:47, 17:20 Caroline’s own experiences with anxiety
4:50 Anxiety is a normal part of life
6:40, 31:20 What it means to be vulnerable & authentic
13:40 Why we shouldn’t just try to get rid of or cure our anxiety
16:00 Resisting feelings of anxiety can make anxiety worse
16:50, 35:00 The power of kindness & self-compassion
21:00 Childhood trauma & anxiety
25:50 Why we need to change the anxiety narrative
26:20 Why it is okay to have a breakdown!
32:00 The power of owning our anxiety
42:30 Why we need to talk about anxiety more
44:32 Anxiety is a signal & messenger, not a disease
51:00 Why we need to understand, not suppress, our anxiety
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.
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