I had a good discussion today regarding acceptance and judgement with my coach.  I truly believe acceptance and curiosity is a great way to overcome an anxiety disorder.

Not only that but it’s a great way to become psychologically flexible as Russ Harris puts it in The Happiness Trap.

We all know by now that life will throw us ups and downs and these are inevitable.  What these ups and downs do is create emotional consequences.  When we have trouble coping with these emotional changes they can in-turn create discomfort which can be scary.

Acceptance is about accepting any up and down, and any emotion life throws at us.  By practicing acceptance we can become psychologically flexible – as such we can reduce the discomfort emotions create by responding differently.

In a previous post I described seeing worry for the bullshit artist it is and responding as such.  It was pointed out to me though that by doing so I am labelling worry.

By labelling worry I am being judgemental and as such not being truly accepting.  This could in turn be judging the mind as a bullshit artist with the consequences of tarnishing one self emotionally.

When asked to come up with a better word I could use to respond to worry or intrusive negative thoughts all I could come up with was simply okay.

Simply acknowledging the thoughts and feelings with okay acknowledges them without judgement.  We then prefixed the response to simply it’s okay – and then let go.

By responding without judgement but simply acknowledging the thought whatever it may be is practicing acceptance.

To progress further from that I moved on to thanks for showing up, I appreciate the concern but I don’t need you right now.

You see when asked what anxiety is to me after a short ponder I responded with it’s an asset.  This is because now knowing the science behind anxiety and the role of the amygdala I know it was born out of evolution for survival.

The primary role of anxiety is to protect us from sabre tooth tigers.  While it’s unlikely we will run in to one any time soon we still have plenty of other dangers.  Crossing the road unbeknownst to a speeding car and what not.

That is why anxiety is an asset.  It’s actually looking out for us, keeping a watchful eye for any dangers to keep us alive.  It is because of this that I will now thank anxiety for showing up.

While it may show up when it’s not needed it is showing concern for me and it’s because of this that I will treat anxiety with compassion in return for without anxiety I would have no concern for that red back spider on the seat, or that eastern brown snake on the side of the walking trail.

It is under these truly dangerous situations that I want my friend anxiety to be there to create the biological responses in my body that keep me safe.

So whenever anxiety shows itself at an inappropriate time I am going to greet it with compassion – I am going to thank it for it’s concern but let it know that it’s okay,  I’m all good.