Powerful Words to Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety tortures millions. Gratefully, there are tools to combat it.  When anxiety attacks, there’s a simple antidote you can try:  The Power of Words.

The remedy is simple.  Pick a word.  Set a timer for fifteen minutes.  During that time, focus on that specific word. When your mind wanders, shift your attention back on that word. This process trains your brain to relax.  It’s simple, but not always easy to do!

You may ask: What’s the best word to contemplate?  Save yourself the grief.  There isn’t a best word!  However, these are some of the most powerful words in the English language when it comes to reducing anxiety.  They are a soothing balm to an anxious mind. Choose the ones that are most meaningful to you.

Grace.

What Grace is given me, let it pass to him.  Let him be spared.  Save him. 

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Arwen.

Mercy and Grace are not solely religious. They are liberating concepts for anyone who contemplates them.  A moving depiction of Mercy is found at the conclusion of Braveheart.  William Wallace’s torture scene is excruciating.  We plead, with his friends, for him to say Mercy.  It is beautiful when he exhales his final breath: Freedom.

Anxiety attacks are, in a very real sense, emotional torture.  Because anxiety is, in many ways, out of your control, the idea of receiving help from some source outside of yourself is empowering and definitively spiritual.

Whether Grace comes from God, artwork, film, or some other source, it is always healing.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. 

–Cicero.

Whether it’s the short or long-term, anxiety fuels from fretting about the future.  To cure worries and fears, you must train your brain to be in the present.  Gratitude is the most present emotion I am aware of.  It is here and it is now!  Gratitude expands the mind, whereas anxiety contracts it.  There are no limits with gratitude.  It puts things into proper perspective.  You can see gratitude written on people’s faces.  It’s a powerful tool for managing anxiety.  Replace expectations with appreciation and you will find a more peaceful life.

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 Love. 

To love another person is to see the face of God.  

–Les Miserables

If you have anxiety, odds are you often feel very alone.  Love shows that you never are.  Anxiety is a confining and trapping emotional state.  Like Gratitude, Compassion and Love reach outward.  The only time they are inward, is while practicing self-compassion.  Like Grace, Compassion lies outside of one’s self. You are not an inconvenience by having anxiety. You are loved more because of it.

Courage.

 Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it. 

–Mark Twain.

Courage is the basis of any heroic tale—yours included. With anxiety, you are facing your fears every, single, day.  You are confronting it every time you sit, kneel, or stand up to it.  Let the storm rage on!  Find out that the anxiety never bothered you anyway.  As you contemplate courage, you will usually feel it in your chest!  If you are facing anxiety every day of your life, you are a courageous hero. 

Humor. 

 In order to truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it.  

–Charlie Chaplin

Anxiety can be intense. Laughter is a natural cure for intensity.  One of the most rewarding gifts you can find is the ability to laugh at yourself—not take yourself so seriously.  We are capable when it comes to laughing at others, or something random on YouTube.  Smile at yourself:  your thoughts, quirks, and shortcomings.  Laughter helps you realize that you are more than the tape that is playing in your mind.  You can laugh at George Costanza, why not laugh at your own neurosis and fears?  When fear comes, smile back.  You are instantly empowered.

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Acceptance. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

The most common impulse with anxiety is to fight, or resist.  However, with anxiety, this can have the opposite effect.  Acceptance is a beautiful word with many nuances of meaning.  Acceptance of yourself.  Acceptance of your anxiety.  Acceptance of yourself with anxiety.  Acceptance of others.  Receiving acceptance from others.  Acceptance is similar to love, compassion, and understanding.

Peace. 

Stop thinking and end your problems. 

 –Lao-Tzu

This may seem like a foreign concept to someone with anxiety.  However, peace is the goal.  Being able to get small glimpses of peace allows your mind to know it’s a possibility.  By focusing on peace, you may start to experience little bits of it!  Peace is found in the little spaces between thoughts.  It’s not what we think, but that we think that’s the problem.

Curiosity. 

Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs:  the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.

 –David Brooks

Uncertainty is an anxious state for someone suffering with anxiety.  However, curiosity overpowers uncertainty.  If someone is anxious about failing a job interview, the idea of “maybe” is very influential.  Accept that you may fail the job interview. Then, challenge that assumption.  Maybe you will rock it!  Maybe you will get hired.  Maybe it will go better than you could have possibly imagined.  Maybe!  Curiosity opens the mind.

 Hope.

There is always hope. 

–Aragorn

Why didn’t I suggest faith?  Hope is a less intense version of faith.  It’s more relaxed.  You can hope for something, but know that there is a slight variability in the outcome.  This is good for someone with anxiety.  It may or may not happen how you are wanting or envisioning…but it helps to hope.  With anxiety, you have to manage your expectations, but hope can bring beautiful concepts and ideas into a constricted mind.  Like many of these words, hope is an opening and expanding concept.

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Friendship. 

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.

 –W.B. Yeats

Think about your closest friends.  Think about what they are doing.  Think about what they have done for you in the past.  Wish them well.  Be happy for them.  Feel gratitude for them.  Imagine them smiling back at you.  Imagine you smiling at them.  Friendship is one of the most rewarding experiences in this life.  It will be one of the most beautiful fifteen minutes you can possibly spend.Write about it.  After contemplating your favorite memories, give them a call.

 Purpose. 

To live is to suffer.  To survive is to find meaning in that suffering.

–Viktor Frankl

There is no doubt about it, to have anxiety, is to suffer.  However, there is a purpose in your suffering.  Anxiety leads you to find what’s most important (and what isn’t).  It can help you find your center. What is the purpose of your suffering?  Is there someone you can help because of what you have experienced?  Is there a group of people that needs you to lead them? Purpose gives you a knowledge that you are not alone in your suffering. Suffering brings people together. One of the greatest purposes of life is to connect with others.

Joy.

Follow Your Bliss.  

–Joseph Campbell 

Excitement and anxiety feel similar.  Anticipation makes people feel anxious. However, you may be anticipating joy.  Anxiety is a marker that something’s important to you.  Embrace it.  Find joy in the anticipation of the event, it’s part of the experience.  Take that anxious energy and shift it to a more pleasant experience.

C.S. Lewis was “surprised by joy” in his life.  He seemed to be a somewhat anxious soul, but Joy would come to him like sunlight through the clouds.  Contemplating joy is a very pure and rewarding emotional experience.  You may have joy for yourself, or for others.

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Nothing. 

If you can’t decide on a word, or none of these really speak to you, all hope is not lost!  Just take a deep breath.  Then, take another one.  Count them if you would like.  Take a deep inhale and a long exhale.  Do that for fifteen minutes. There is a subtle calm in nothingness.  Not to sound over-the-top, but breathing is miraculous.

 Mantras. 

 I think I can I think I can I think I can. 

–The Little Engine that Could

People with anxiety have over-active brains.  Humming (or ohming) can help get the anxious energy out…like getting an over-heated car engine to cool down. Since there is a sensation with humming, or saying something out loud repeatedly, it can be easier to focus.

Conclusion.

These words may not entirely cure your anxiety, but they will help.  Find words or phrases that are powerful for you.  Practice focusing for about fifteen minutes a day.  If some of these work for you…use them.  If you have other meaningful words, explore those.  There’s no right or wrong way to do it.  You just need something to focus on besides your anxiety.  Pay attention to what your brain enjoys.  If you are like Ron Swanson and need to only think about breakfast food, embrace it!

With powerful words, you will be ready to deal with anxiety when it comes to deal with you.

 

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