"In the end, don't forget that we are just monkeys" - Dennis Mc'Kenna
And what do we love to do, with our monkey brains?
1. We create beliefs. Whether or not they are accurate, it doesn't matter. We create them, someone believes them, therefore they ARE, and they stick around like carnival confetti. Often surrounded by a little cloud of self-righteousness.
2. We spread beliefs. Our love for spreading beliefs is secondary only to our need of creating new ones!
3. We let beliefs boss our lives, over and over and over again, sometimes to the degree of self-destruction.
Not all beliefs are born equal.
Some are needed for us to function, others are positive and nurturing and allow us to be the best version of ourselves. Some are at the very foundation of our species, others were shaped by the current societal system to function and survive.
And some are at the very roots of what sucks in our lives!
The way we react to life events and situations, the way we behave in our closest relationships, the mindset and behaviors that we wear every day, are all rooted in what beliefs we have about ourselves, other people and the world surrounding us.
What happens when some of these beliefs are corrosive of your very essence, and of your precious life? Anxiety happens.
When these beliefs are toxic, our reaction to events, situations, relationships, and feelings become toxic and self-destructive.
This 5-step process to deal with anxiety is mostly based on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
It's an empowering way of dealing with anxiety, and in just a few weeks of practice leads to meaningful life changes.
1 - Spot your toxic Beliefs
Discover the beliefs you have absorbed from society and close family during your upbringing.
There is that saying "Monkey see, monkey do". This cannot be more true for children. Overwhelming evidence shows how children learn through modeling: they learn and repeat what they SEE adults doing, not what they are told to do).
At the same time, children are wired to do anything it takes to feel safe and be accepted, already very early on in life.
They, therefore, absorb beliefs, trust the labels repeated to them often enough ("you are such a lazy boy") and interiorize external opinions and judgment.
For example kids criticized often grow up with low self-worth, are insecure, and generally predisposed to feeling anxious.
Do a scan of your past, and reflect on whether there are some sentences you were repeated often, and labels you still believe about who you are. Try this quick exercise: complete the sentence "What I hate the most about myself, is that I am... ". You will be surprised about what comes out...
2 - Conquer Awareness
Once you spot what beliefs are at the roots of our core being, you need to gain awareness on how they work in the background: shaping your thinking, attitudes, and behaviors, ultimately controlling your life.
There are different ways to do so, and several exercises to practice: a good start is to pay attention to what is going on in your head when an anxiety episode arises or is just around the corner.
Seriously, look into your head! Imagine you are in a pitch dark room (the narrow vision of anxiety) but with a little window. What do you see passing by in that little window?
Are there specific images?
Are there vignettes with thoughts showing up here and there?
Are there any deep emotions with specific color codes?
How old are you?
Write everything down.
Do this for a week and analyze your findings. I'm sure you will uncover some unexpected insight.
3 - I am not my thoughts
You may not know yet, but you have the ability to evaluate your thoughts before you buy into them.
I know how weird it sounds.
But it's true, and it does wonder in preventing anxiety.
So listen carefully!
Once you have identified your beliefs, and you have the presence and awareness to SEE what is going on in your head, listen to your inner dialogue.
Do you have any toxic thoughts that arise without you having any control over them? And how do you talk to yourself?
Is your inner voice supportive and compassionate, or is it a bully, criticizing everything you do, putting you down and shaming you to tears?
When this happens, and you see a toxic thought "I am so inadequate" rephrase it with "I am having the thought to be inadequate". This is a powerful brain-hack to distance yourself from your thought.
Because that's what it is. A thought.
Rooted in a toxic belief you absorbed at some point in your life. You have NO OBLIGATION to believe it. Believing it, is a choice.
Start questioning your thoughts.
Don't buy into them right away.
Practice on evaluating the thought first.
See it for what it is: just. a. thought.
Just a bunch of words you decide to believe until they destroy you.
Now you have a choice. See the though. See its words. Evaluate them.
4. Let yourself Feel
The hidden beliefs and consequent thoughts causing anxiety are hurtful.
They clench your stomach and squeeze your throat.
Chances are you spent months or years dealing with anxiety the usual way: finding coping mechanisms to distract yourself and avoid the pain.
A reality of anxiety is that the more you avoid it, the more you distract yourself, the more powerful it becomes.
Now that you are aware of what is happening in the background, FEEL whatever there is to feel. Accept it hurts. Let yourself feel the emotion. Resist the urge to distract, avoid and run away. You have everything it takes to be present with your hurting self.
5. Choose who you are and your direction in life
If you are not your toxic beliefs, and you are not your thoughts, then who are you?
You are everything you choose to be.
Free of beliefs you absorbed as a child, without even noticing.
Free of the obligation to listen to and believe the hurtful thoughts that your mind is wired to generate.
Free to be. Explore. Dare. Laugh. LIVE.
Is an anxiety-free life possible?
In the next few months I'm going to launch a cutting-edge pilot program into defeating anxiety for good.
It's a fail-proof hands-on program rooted in the evidence-based frameworks and brain-hacks I used to shape a life that tastes just right, free of anxiety, hunting thoughts and crippling attitudes.
The pilot will be available only to a few individuals, at a steep discount and with