How gratitude soothes the anxious mind – my story

To put it bluntly, anxiety is a bitch. It is a crippling condition that controls literally every aspect of your life at any moment. It’s something that creeps up on you, it’s something that remains dull in the background as you try to live your life, it’s something that puts your brain in a kebab skewer and punches each part of it as your brain spins around, it’s just UGH.

Coupled with a side of tomatoes in balsamic dressing known as depression, your mental health is in for a ride.

It really does suck. This time last year, I was unable to even think properly without my anxiety and depression paralysing my thoughts. This year, I focused on my recovery and did almost everything that came to mind to get rid of this anxiety and depression that has plagued me for so long. Some things worked, others were a waste of time. But what I realised, one thing that consistently made me feel better was gratitude.

There are tons of avenues in our lives that teach us to be grateful. For Muslims and other religious people, we’re always taught to thank God to show that we aren’t demeaning him. Take God out of the equation and we’re still taught to be thankful because things could be worse, or to not seem ungrateful to what is around us. When we’re taught to be thankful in this way, we’re in a way taught to settle and are shamed for wanting to evolve. We’re blackmailed into being grateful, which is why we never see the fruits of it.

In reality, gratitude not supposed to snap us out of a self pity party in the slightest. Gratitude is food for the soul.

Gratitude teaches us to be present. When you’re thankful and counting your blessings, you’re snapped out of the regrets of the past and anxieties of the future. It’s just that moment. Look at this moment. Look around you. Nothing in this moment can hurt you. The future will always have its unpredictable nature that can put us in a whirlwind of emotions and the past will always make you look back and cringe, or drown in sorrow on what could have been, but those are out of your control.

I don’t entirely believe that the past and future are sources of negativity. I do believe you can look at them strategically to fuel you, but that’s another blog post for another day. It’s also something that you can only do when you master the power of being present.

Look at it this way: focusing on the present means you’re pooling all of your energy on what is. You’re not procrastinating by drowning in fear and regret. You thank yourself for what you do have, even if you’re not fully convinced that you’re thankful and you just live.

To be grateful also means you’re not so harsh on yourself. Think about how hard it is for you to find motivation when you have someone breathing down your neck, reminding you of your “incompetence” daily. Now think about it again in the context of your own internal dialogue telling you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, etc.

These notions have a root. Somewhere throughout your life, you convinced yourself that you aren’t worthy of your desires, which is strange because we’ve decided that we have limitations that we didn’t even know about when we were born. That only means we learned them along the way as our lives progressed.

We’ve decided that things are tough – that it’s impossible to be at our healthy weight, that money is unattainable, that our jobs will always be suckish. We look at our present reality, which may not be the best and we decide that we’re stuck this way. There’s no progression.

We can lie to ourselves and pretend that everything is okay with the intention of hiding, but that only takes us so far. Something bad happens or we remember that we don’t have our ideal job/relationship/health/etc and we’re back down. What’s problematic is that people think this is how you “affirm” to get where you want to be.

Then there’s affirming what may not already be ours, but feeling like we’re lying to ourselves because we think the mere thought of us even edging closer to a dream is farfetched.

Keep going. Keep giving thanks for what is around you even when you don’t feel very grateful and you want to punch the universe in the face.

By practicing gratitude and affirming that you are where you need to be, you’re rewriting your story. You’re breaking connections in your brain that you’ve spent years cultivating. You’ll meet resistance and you’ll feel like you’re lying to yourself because the thought of you being good enough is so foreign to your brain that you’ll want to quickly fall back into old habits.

When you feel like you want to get back into those comfortable debilitating old thought patterns, thank yourself. Thank yourself for all of the hard work you’re putting in (even if you feel like there’s no work being put at all) and just keep going. Allow yourself to feel shit, but know it’s a feeling and it will pass. Don’t block it and don’t drown in it. Let it go through you. Whilst you’re doing that, keep doing the inner work. Eventually you’ll find your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings and even your actions align and take you to a much healthier place.

Yes, anxiety and depression may come and visit you, but eventually, you’ll be able to mentalise better when these ebbs do hit because you’ve been training your mind to look at a picture that extends your limiting beliefs.

Here are some affirmations you can use:

  • I am a magnet for money
  • All of my relationships are healthy and happy
  • I am more than enough
  • Daaaayuuumnn I look goooood today!
  • Kindness is oozing out of people around me
  • Everything I think about manifests

I’m going to be off now – but this post is just an overview. I’ll get into detail with each topic later on. Just let me know which ones you want!

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