I read an interesting article recently, written by a clinical psychologist, about Harm-Related OCD. As OCD is actually an anxiety disorder, two of the key concepts in the article applied very well to anxiety in general.
The first concept, and I think it can be very eye-opening for someone that is beginning to work on their anxiety, is that anxiety targets those things that we value most in life. The goal of OCD, like other anxieties, is to protect you by identifying potential dangers, focusing your attention on them in order to eliminate them. That is why anxious folk are often worried about their health... and not whether they should have gotten turnips instead of potatoes. It is why anxious folk stress about relationships and not whether the car is blue enough. Anxiety focuses on these important facets of our lives because it is trying to protect them, and therefore us, from harm. This is a useful behavior; that is why I always tell my clients that the emotion of anxiety is normal; everyone experiences it. For those people struggling with "anxiety" or panic attacks, it is just that that harm-preventing behavior has gone a bit haywire.
The second interesting concept from the article reaffirmed what I have learned from working one-on-one with my coaching clients - a little knowledge can go a long way. Anxiety (and panic attacks) can have such a powerful influence over us, and yet once we begin to learn what it is, how it works, and why it is operating in our lives, anxiety very quickly begins to lose that power. The old Schoolhouse Rock program had it right - "knowledge is power." Learning just a little bit about your anxiety can go a long way towards eliminating it from your life.