In his late 20’s, Clive Fogelman lost both his parents within six months. He was then diagnosed with bowel cancer a few years later.
Clive credits both yoga and meditation as significant tools for dealing with his anxiety through this challenging time and says that by using these things as a ‘toolkit’, everyone can benefit.
Whether it’s focusing on your breathing while waiting for the kettle to boil, or paying more attention to your surroundings when walking to work, everybody can put a little more mindfulness into their day.
We spoke about:
The importance of ‘inviting yourself’ to connect with your body and how you feel.
Breathing techniques to deal with anxiety and stress instantly.
Bringing yourself back to the present.
How becoming more self-aware can help you deal with everyday emotions.
Taking all experiences (good and bad) and seeing them as something to observe – without judgment or feeling like they’re going against you.
The power of the mind and belief.
How to use a mindfulness pause.
Letting the journey present itself, and dealing with whatever is part of it without fear dictating how you feel.
Clive has been a yoga and meditation teacher for nearly a decade. You can find out more about what Clive does at www.helloyoga.co.uk
Anxiety has a great way of making us feel stuck. It manipulates us into believing all sorts – mostly the negative stuff that keeps us trapped. How do we get out of this trap so we can stop asking questions like will I ever overcome anxiety?
Belief is a powerful thing. Very powerful.
Your life is shaped by what you believe.
How you feel tomorrow will be dictated by what it is you believe right now.
Your belief system is based on what has happened to you in the past. For example, if you’ve experienced panic attacks in a supermarket, it’s likely you won’t like supermarkets and you’ll avoid them.
You’re following habits that you’ve developed over years, sometimes decades.
Some of these habits will be serving you well. Some not so well – particularly the ones that keep you stuck and trapped – like the beliefs built around anxiety.
But that’s not to say you can’t change your habits, and therefore change how you think about anxiety – including the belief that you’ll never overcome anxiety.
The power of belief
What is a belief, and why is it so important when it comes to anxiety?
A belief is something you’re certain about.
When you think about it (whatever ‘it’ is), you come to a quick conclusion about what it means to you.
You can believe anything you like.
‘I’m the most beautiful person on the planet’, for example.
You’ve probably got a friend who believes this to be true? Maybe it’s far from reality. But to the person who believes it to be true, other people’s opinions rarely matter.
That is the power of belief.
And the good news is you have this power. You can believe what you want.
That includes your belief about anxiety, and whether or not you’ll overcome it.
Beliefs are funny old things. They tend to catch on.
Most people won’t believe in something until it’s reality.
Like the four-minute mile that Roger Bannister broke in 1954. Before then, it was considered impossible to do. Nobody had done it, and nobody thought it was worthwhile attempting it.
That was until Roger broke it. As soon as he did, lots of others started breaking the four-minute barrier.
Other people started to achieve it because they thought if he can do it, I can too.
And that’s how I want you to think about overcoming anxiety.
There are lots of people who have been in your position (me included) and changed for the better. They’ve overcome all sorts – high anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, agoraphobia, social anxiety, health anxiety, depression – you name it.
This knowledge should give you the belief that you can do the same.
Change the way you think
You can’t change an outcome without first changing the way you think about it.
If you don’t believe you can win the race, you won’t.
If you don’t believe you can overcome anxiety, you can’t.
Fundamentally, whatever it is you’re telling yourself and whatever it is you’re choosing to believe, is true.
That is the power you hold.
Nobody else holds this power – only you.
Let’s simplify this with two possible beliefs.
Belief #1: I will never overcome anxiety.
Belief #2: Anxiety is normal. It will always be part of my life, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ll continue to face the challenges it brings knowing that I can handle anything that comes my way. There is nothing that I can’t deal with.
Two very different belief systems, each as powerful as the other.
Which one will you choose to believe? Because whichever one you choose to believe is true.
Maybe you’ll choose to believe one of your own?
Whatever it is you choose to believe, remember it’s that belief that is defining your future. It’s dictating how you feel now, tomorrow, and next year.
With this in mind, it pays to be selective about what it is you choose to believe.
When you’ve stopped the pointless battle against anxiety, the second step in dealing with negative thoughts connected with anxiety is identifying which ones are no good for.
The typical negative thoughts associated with anxiety look a little like this:
‘I’m going to have a panic attack when I go to the supermarket.’
‘There is no way I can go to that party.’
‘I’m going to feel anxious tomorrow.’
Remember – these thoughts aren’t real.
They’re only real when you want them to be real – when you choose to believe them.
When you become more conscious about these types of negative thoughts that are fuelled by anxiety, you can do something about them. You can stop them before they get out of control and start influencing your belief system.
If you keep going to the supermarket and experiencing panic attacks, for example, you’re approaching the situation with the wrong belief system. You’re being led by thoughts like ‘I’m going to have a panic attack if I go to the supermarket.’ That’s the type of thought keeping you trapped.
You’ve told yourself you’re going to lose before you’ve started.
The steps you take before going to the supermarket are more important than the ones you take when you’re there.
The outcome is done before you’ve left your house.
In other words, if you approach a situation with negative anxiety-related thoughts dictating your actions, it will lead to the outcome you don’t want. In the instance of going to the supermarket, a panic attack.
If you want to overcome panic attacks, high anxiety, or any negative beliefs about your life, you have to consciously change the way you think – change your belief system.
Go back to the two beliefs, and pick a statement similar to #2.
Reinforce that belief in your mind.
It may not be the truth right now, but that’s not the point.
What we believe now will manifest as reality in the future – even if it’s not true right now.
Remember to be choosy about what thoughts you believe. They are dictating your life.