As Millennials, anxiety is no stranger to us. We’ve been dubbed “the most anxious generation,” surpassing our parents, bosses, and grandparents. With so much pressure to live up to our greatest potential or to have “made it” before turning 30 it’s no surprise that so many of us feel anxious.
I remember being twenty-three and running operations in a publishing company I co-owned. At the time our company was doing over 7-figures, we had a huge team, and a waiting list to work with us. From the outside it seemed as if I had made it. Most days however behind the scenes I would go to bed feeling unsettled. My mind would race, my palms would get hot, and I couldn’t stop feeling worried. One time during a client meeting my heart raced so much I thought I was dying and went to the hospital to find out I was having a panic attack.
With 86% of millennials going through their own version of a quarter-life crisis, my story is all too common.
What most of us don’t realize, however, is that these signs are manifestations of something much deeper. According to an expert, “anxiety is an indicator that your life is out of alignment. It’s your intuition, your inner voice, letting you know that something is not right.”
Meet Tim JP Collins, an expert in anxiety and stress on a mission to demystify anxiety and the place it has in our world. He’s the host of The Anxiety Podcast, a keynote speaker, and a retreat leader based in Vancouver, Canada. Having suffered from anxiety himself for many years, JP Collins speaks from personal experience that infuses his advice with credibility, relatability, and real-world practicality.
“Some people have a better ability of covering up that reminder of alignment but the more we get in tune with ourselves, our bodies and our minds, the more we can’t ignore it,” JP Collins says.
This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, JP Collins shares how you can learn from your anxiety to come back into alignment with yourself.
Below, read JP Collins’ advice to make peace with your anxiety in 5 powerful steps.
1. Silence And Space. The way most people try to treat anxiety, JP Collins says, is with an external solution. “We’re often looking for the solution in the next book or the next podcast,” he says. “But it’s not an external thing that comes to you. The tools to change are inside you.” In order to heal your anxiety, JP Collins recommends you turn off and take space from the outside noise you’re used to. These are merely distractions that prevent you from hearing your own voice, which has the answers. Instead of buying another book, consulting another expert, or searching for information online, turn inward.
2. Listen. In a quiet setting, take out a pen and piece of paper and begin to write. “Leave your phone behind, go for a walk in nature,” JP Collins advises. The goal of the writing is to uncover what in your life is out of alignment and is manifesting as anxiety. Remember, anxiety is the symptom, not the root. The root is misalignment with yourself. Ask yourself core questions like, Am I feeling fulfilled in my job and in my relationships? Am I feeling expressed? Do people know the real me? Do I have community? Do I feel healthy and alive in my body?
3. Practice The 3 C’s. Once you have answered these questions, JP Collins says to approach where you are with 3 C’s: Curiosity, Courage, and Compassion. If you wrote down that you aren’t feeling fulfilled in your job, bring Curiosity by asking why. Go deeper. Bring Courage by being willing to embrace what comes up. For example, if you find you’re not being authentic in your relationships, embrace the inauthentic part of you. Underneath your inauthenticity may be fear. “Don’t reject it, because it’s part of you,” JP Collins says. Bring Compassion by being gentle with the parts of yourself that feel unfulfilled, lost, stuck, unseen, hurt, or afraid. Take responsibility for your role in creating situations for yourself to feel that way, such as agreeing to work a job you didn’t care about, or staying in a relationship you didn’t love. And finally, recognize your power to make a different choice right now.