A process of repetition.
Anxiety is a process of repetition.
Sometimes it can be no different than a bad habit, clinging to our subconscious. In a lot of ways this cycle can be just as uncomfortable to break as it is to have. I think it's safe to say that most of us with anxiety or panic issues would rather not have them. It's debilitating to be nervous or scared of the most basic functions in life, especially for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, sometimes we grow to rely on those anxious feelings for the illusion of safety. It's the narrative we tell ourselves - that simply accepting anxiety and believing it's all there is or will be becomes the norm.
It's not lost on me how irrational that statement is, but panic disorders and anxiety do not have to make sense. More often than not, they don't. Sometimes my personal anxieties manifest in a fear of food or fear of taking a shower. Of course I'm well aware that I don't have allergies to foods and I certainly haven't died in the shower, but my subconscious can sometimes say otherwise, mostly because it remembers the feelings I've had previously.
But where do fears like that come from? What happens when you can't connect any of those fears with any current or past experience? How do you address an issue that has no apparent root cause?
The mind likes to connect dots. If it has connected any experience with discomfort, it remembers. As I've stated above, anxiety is a process of repetition; if we've told ourselves stories that somehow validate those irrational fears, our mind and body can team up to make it real. But even more irrational than the fears themselves is the thought that doing the same thing to combat the unpleasant feelings will yield a different result.
So tell a different story.
While this is no simple or easy task, I do believe a learned bad habit can also be unlearned. The same process of repetition that teaches our subconscious to fear, for example, food, showers, or flying in a plane, can also be used to build ourselves up. It's a matter of rewiring the brain.
It's not about convincing ourselves we'll be ok, it's about knowing we are ok.
Change will often be met with a lack of cooperation from the mind. Sometimes it will try to validate the continuation of those old, negative habits:
"But when I was young this happened and...?" "But what about if...?" "But...but...but...?"
No. Do not seek solace in the act of doing the same things over and over in the face of uncomfortable feelings. Instead seek to change the narrative by allowing other perspectives. Redefine the moment; maybe you're not anxious but excited. Perhaps you're not scared, you're just unsure about doing something you've never done before. It's ok to pep talk yourself. Sometimes saying a thing out loud can change how your brain views a situation.
In order to feel better, you have to believe you can and will feel better. The only way to do this is by reminding yourself of that fact. Create a new habit of being more conscious of how you assess and define a moment.
Make the new process of repetition a mindset that encourages you to remember that you have more courage to face anxiety and panic than you think you do.