Anxiety is Your Guard Dog
My family used to have this great dog called Shadow.
He was a cross between a collie and black Labrador. (See him above)
He used to sit all day long in the front room of our house waiting for anyone to come to the front door. When someone would finally arrive, he would go absolutely bonkers!
Until…we invited the person in.
If we kept the person at the door, (for example the Fed-ex guy), he would bounce off the walls barking loudly with all the hair standing on his back.
No matter how hard you tried to tell him to lie down and stop barking, he would not listen.
His reasoning was: “I am the guard of this house and if my owner does not invite a person in, then that person is unwanted and therefore a threat.”
I sometimes used to keep friends standing at the door for a few minutes and then let them in (if they were brave enough), just to see the change in Shadow’s reaction.
It was the same every time. Once they passed the front door, he would immediately stop barking and sit back down on his seat.
Anxiety is just like a guard dog. It is your protector.
It is your fight or flight response activated by the emotional part of your brain designed to keep you from harm.
It needs you the owner (your rational brain) to reassure it that the unusual bodily sensations, that pay you a visit, are not a real threat and that all is well.
But just saying ‘everything is OK, calm down now’ does not work.
Just like Shadow, it responds much better to your actions. You need to mentally invite the anxiety in.
If you keep the door on anxiety closed, your emotional brain thinks that the threat is real and there is something to be afraid of.
When you invite your anxious sensations in with total acceptance of them, your emotional brain (your guard dog) backs off and calms down.
So don’t keep all your anxious bodily sensations knocking on the door upsetting your guard dog.
Open the door and let them in.
Accept them fully and watch as your guard dog settles back down into a calm state.
“How I learnt to Accept + Let Go’ A Panic Away Success Story
The central theme in the panic away program is ACCEPTANCE. The key to recovery is to allow the anxiety to come back. Complete 100% acceptance of all that you feel is crucial for the anxiety symptoms to lessen and eventually fade away.
It sounds simple, but it is far from it. True acceptance of your anxiety and sensations is extremely difficult and challenging and takes time. Panic Away member Ella describes her journey to full acceptance and how a simple re-phrasing of the word ‘acceptance’ to ‘letting go’ helped her overcome her anxiety.
Acceptance was the hardest thing for me to do. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to “accept” all these symptoms, condition etc. It felt so awful that it made no sense to me. I did think about it long and hard and tried to turn “acceptance” in something I was able to do.
I turned “acceptance” into “letting go”. I let go of the life I use to live without anxiety. I stopped thinking I want my life back, I want to be the old me. I let go of the twisted attachment I had to feeling horrible cause that’s all I knew. I accepted that I had anxiety and panic and I accepted that it was going to take a lot of work to get better.
Once you learn to keep your symptoms at bay it will be a lot easier for you to accept. I never really accepted my symptoms but I did stop caring for them. I paid them no attention. I didn’t love them nor care for them. This is how I treated my symptoms at first:
Have you ever had to hang out with someone all day that drove you crazy, you wanted to pull out your hair because of them, they got on your nerves, they made you angry and simply irritated? Hopefully you have! I think we all have!
Well in the morning look at your symptoms as the “un welcomed visitors” like you have to hang out with them you have no choice. So welcome the un welcomed visitors, let them know you don’t care for them, you won’t pay attention to them, but this is the situation and you are stuck with them and you are going to go on with your day not paying attention to them.
If you had person in your house that you couldn’t stand all day I’m sure you wouldn’t “check in” with them to make them feel at ease or ask if they wanted anything etc. You would probably ignore them. The more you do this the more that person you don’t like won’t want to hang out at your house, they eventually leave and don’t want to come back. It’s the same thing with symptoms.
Treat them as un welcomed visitors. This worked for me. I refused to check it. You have anxiety you don’t have serious deathly illness. Nothing will happen. You are safe, just uncomfortable.
Hopefully this makes sense to you cause explaining it is not the easiest! lol
To get more anxiety coping tips, watch these 2 videos below–
By Barry McDonagh, who is an international panic disorder coach. He created the Panic Away program to help people around the world deal with their anxiety and avoid panic attacks – a subject that he is personally attuned to because he himself found that he was prone to these issues since he was young. His hatred of his powerless lead him down the path of finding natural ways to treat himself without having to depend on expensive medications.
His informative site on all issues related to panic and anxiety attacks can be found here: Anxiety Coping Tips – Comparing Your Anxiety to an Unwelcome Visitor