Video: The Less You Do, The More You Do

"What do I do to overcome my anxiety?"

Most people experience this thought at least once (probably dozens if not hundreds of times) as they work to address and move past their anxiety. It generally happens during the "looking for the cure" phase, when we still hope that the answer lies in a nice easy 6-step or 10-stop program that, if we can simply follow the steps, will guide us back to a perfect life. Unfortunately, for most of us, anxiety doesn't work like that. And the reason is simple. Anxiety is a very energized state; trying to actively "do" something to get out of it, like force-feeding ourselves a dozen affirmations per minute, is unlikely to work because we're adding even more energy, through our actions, to an already supercharged state, it's like trying to put out a fire with more fire.

Overcoming or addressing our anxiety generally takes a much more passive approach, which is certainly not to be confused with doing nothing. As Dr. Amy Johnson is fond of saying, and I'm paraphrasing here - we are born okay, overcoming anxiety is less about expelling it from your life, and more about understanding the fact that we were, are, and will be okay, even in the midst of a high anxiety moment. It is a frustrating concept at times, it takes a little bit of trial and error to cement, but in my personal experience and in my work with clients, I find it to be true.

The key to overcoming anxiety is not a 10-step program to be followed to the letter (not to say a program doesn't have any benefits, I've learned some valuable information and tips from a few programs I tried), but instead just making a little bit of room for the anxiety when it appears. It's a rather awkward and frustrating experience, not unlike the 1-minute clip below of a character learning to surf in the movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. While we could all use a slightly more helpful coach than the one in this video, he is right about one thing:

"The less you do, the more you do."