In many respects, we live in an age of anxiety. Over 40 million adult Americans are reported to suffer from it. Whether that is a product of our society making people more anxious, or a product of our society actually allowing people to talk about the anxiety that has always been there, is up for argument. Either way, the fact remains: anxiety is increasingly prevalent and it is difficult to live with.


I approach anxiety from a Buddhist perspective and a Western therapeutic perspective. On the one hand, I see it as a natural byproduct of being a vulnerable human being. We are going to have anxiety, and in many ways it is our relationship to anxiety that determines the degree to which it controls our life, and not the anxiety itself. On the other hand, anxiety is undoubtedly a nuisance and there are specific steps that we can take to diminish its frequency.


In my experience, we generally don't have much success when we do battle with ourselves. That is to say, me telling myself that I need to stop feeling so anxious more often than not only serves to increase the very thing that I am trying to eliminate. Following in the steps of Buddhism, I believe that a more useful approach is to begin from the grounds of acceptance. When we turn towards the monster under our bed, we find out that it isn't there. Similarly, when we radically turn towards our anxiety, our relationship to it is bound to change. Instead of something that we need to dismantle and dispose of, anxiety becomes something that we can work with. We are unlikely to change our basic human nature. We do, however, stand a chance of success when we work within the confines of our human nature.

Your anxiety is workable. You, too, are workable - anxiety and all.

Through fostering an attitude of radical self-acceptance along with developing practical skills, tools and thinking patterns, your anxiety will change.

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