"Thank God for Pharmaceuticals!"
That was the first thing Elizabeth told me when she mentioned her anxiety disorder in our first session.
She is one of the 47 million Americans taking prescription medication for anxiety, a 20% increase since 2007. In fact, Xanax is now one of the 10 most prescribed medications in the US.
As much as she professed her love for her pills, the meds weren't really delivering the changes she wanted. Anxiety was still her baseline, with attacks happening as soon as she walked into her high-paying, high-pressure corporate job each day.
I'm always upfront with people that as a life coach, I am not a licensed mental health professional. I don't prescribe meds and promise people I will "cure" their depression or anxiety.
However, I believe when you commit to a mentorship, structure, and system that provides you tools and strategies to create meaningful change, the symptoms often disappear on their own... quickly.
When my clients sign up for coaching, they learn how to stop being a slave to their brain and reconnect to their heart. They learn how to make themselves a priority. They begin to trust themselves, follow their intuition, cut out toxic people and situations, and act in their own best interests. Within weeks, they start to reject any thought pattern, person, or thing which no longer serves their well-being.
Once they make these adjustments, their anxiety becomes, at worst, an occasional inconvenience. In most cases, it goes away altogether.
For Elizabeth, she had been putting herself last for over 30 years. She felt an enormous responsibility to love everyone but herself. She told herself her job was to make sure her boss and co-workers felt good, even if it came at her own expense. In relationships, she repeated the same pattern of dating narcissists who never made her feel seen, heard, or valued.
Perhaps most damaging was the fact she had completely disconnected from her natural feminine energy. Growing up with a father who called her "over dramatic" when she expressed herself, she was rewarded for putting on a masculine mask and pushing down her emotions. If what she was feeling would upset others, she would simply opt to not feel at all.
This logic-based, masculine energy trait served her well in her career, where she climbed to the very top of her profession. Yet, it was simultaneously crushing her spirit. Decades of ignoring her needs had left her feeling perpetually tired, overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated..
Believing her happiness was dependent on the outside forces in her life, she felt powerless to design the life she wanted. She began to seek certainty and control in ways that negatively affected her physical and emotional well-being.
The most unfortunate part is she believed this version of herself was the "real" her, rather than a set of patterns she created as a survival mechanism. She believed she was a person with anxiety who was responsible for everyone else's happiness. She believed she was undateable in relationships, and unworthy of happiness.
During our third session, I took her through a closed-eye process where she could go within and reconnect with herself. In this exercise, we focused on only two questions:
- How do I feel?
- What do I need right now?
These two questions took her out of her masculine work mode and put her back into her natural feminine energy. She allowed herself to feel the emotions that came up without fear of judgement or punishment. She gave herself the gift of putting her needs first.
At the end of 20 minutes, she opened her eyes and looked like an entirely different woman. Her anxiety level had dropped from a 10 to a 3. She was breathing deeply instead of shallowly in her chest, her face was relaxed, and she was even smiling.
When I explained this state was her authentic self, her mind was blown. After our session, she incorporated this meditation into her daily routine. Her anxiety has dramatically fallen off and her life feels easier. Last week, she sent me an email that simply read:
"It's a much happier place in here, in feminine energy. Much much happier."
Since this discovery, Elizabeth has been setting better boundaries with her schedule, making her self-care a priority and saying no to things which prevent her from reaching her goals. She's found a new sense of confidence and has made a 180-degree turn mentally and spiritually since we started working together a month ago. I couldn't be any more proud of the transformation she has achieved in just 4 weeks.
I'd love to tell you these results are not typical, but I'd be lying. When you make a decision to stop suffering, change happens rapidly.
If you are a woman struggling with anxiety, this exercise by itself can create massive shifts in your energy. Sit with your eyes closed for 20 minutes, ask yourself how you are feeling and what you need right now. Then simply give yourself whatever it is your intuition guides you to do. It could be taking a relaxing bubble bath, planning a girls night with your best friend, or just time to sit and journal. Maybe you just feel you need to sleep. In any case, do it.
For my men out there who are in the anxiety struggle, know that masculine energy is less about "feeling" and more about "doing." Spend one hour a day doing whatever it is you love to do- what you deeply feel you need to do, in your heart. Do this without stressing over whether you have the time or should be attending to other obligations.
There is a myth that personal growth is about changing who we are. This is why many people are scared to begin the process. I disagree with this assesment. Who you are is perfect and you couldn't change it if you tried.
At the end of the day, personal growth is about changing the patterns and behaviors which hold us back from living our purpose.
All you need to do is identify your self-limiting pattern and make a new decision. Change happens instantaneously... progress comes soon thereafter.