How do you deal with fear and anxiety that comes before thought? [long]

Phaedrus (@BlankPhaedrus) 6 years, 7 months ago

Hey guys, this is my first post here.For the past three years, since I was 15, I have been practicing present moment awareness techniques, under Eckhart Tolle’s philosophies.At the time I had a very active mind that would generate all kinds of thoughts that would cause me grief and anxiety.

Tolle’s teachings seemed like an absolute godsend, and reaching a state of present moment awareness seemed to come quickly to me. My quality of life improved dramatically, and I have been continually learning more about spirituality and philosophy since then.

However, since then, I’ve run into perhaps what is my biggest challenge yet. Being 18 and in my first year of university, I came in with a relaxed mind, ready to take on the challenges ahead.Everything was great until the last week or two of my first semester, where I met a girl. (cliche, yes) She’s philosophical, understanding, kind. We went out once and it was awesome! I wasn’t expecting to click with her that much, and our hangout was great. Relaxed, it flowed, my mind was at peace.

However, almost immediately after that, I began to have stomach problems. Accompanying that was a slowly growing anxiety in me in regards to the relationship. Although we aren’t “dating” yet, just the thought of it, for whatever reason, makes me very anxious. As the next couple of days progressed, I began to feel increasingly anxious around her, and my stomach got worse. To the point where my stomach became bloated, became constipated, and almost passed out from not eating/drinking properly.

It was so extreme that I doubted it could be connected with my girl issues. However, I then remembered that when I was dating someone else in the summer, a similar situation happened. I had trouble eating while dating, but it seemed to disappear after I broke up with her. However, that one was not nearly as bad.

Still unconvinced, I visited the doctor (on winter break, at home right now), and she told me that physically, I was fine. After talking it over, she told me that this was most likely a mental thing.This appears to be true. Being at home and away from university/her, I feel fine and well. Appetite is returning, and physically I am fine again.

Now, the question is, what do I do about this? The anxiety I feel is quite different from what I used to feel, in that it seems to arise BEFORE anxious thoughts ever enter my head. During episodes of this anxiety I can observe it without judging (as Tolle says) and it helps, but it still affects my appetite and renders me unable to eat properly.

I do believe I can resolve this with introspection and meditation, but would like to hear some of your opinions on what I might be able to do about this situation. I really do like her, but this anxiety is crippling my ability to have a solid relationship, and affecting my studies as well.Thank you all!

December 26, 2015 at 5:07 pm
Filip (2,818)M (@filipek) 6 years, 7 months ago ago


First of all, welcome to this beautiful community :) 

Sorry to hear about your struggles coping with your anxieties. You are not the only one, we all are struggling with our emotions in one way or the other. Unfortunately only very few of us are lucky enough to develop a healthy emotional balance throughout our lives and the challenge of parenthoods where these techniques should be learned are often left and not given significant attention. This is why we keep on struggling throughout our adolescence and later our adult lives with unresolved emotions. 

Now, there is no easy answer to your problem, in fact, given the limited amount of information we can get from your experience, it will be a challenge to give you a custom made answer to fix your problem. 

I want to say and acknowledge that you seem to have started in the right way by searching for ways and lessons to learn about your soul. Eckhart Tolle is definitely a persona giving some valuable insights into our Psyche. Keep going on this spiritual journey and you will discover many more answers. Breathing/relaxing meditation like you use is definitely a good way to balance your emotional state and get some tranquility into your life. 

However, in order to find out the root causes of your anxiety, it is important to understand that the answer is not straight forward. Behind every anxiety there is another anxiety, we have different levels of anxieties, which eventually lead us to our existential fears. 

Tolle’s method is good to calm yourself down and find some balance into your day to day life. Unfortunately he simplifies things too much and it is just a general solution to understand certain behaviours, thought patterns and day to day struggles. There is no general answer to our problems though, as we are all unique, with our unique experiences, our unique personalities and our unique coping mechanisms. To find the root of your anxieties you need to consciously study this. My advice usually is to find help from a professional who could get into the deeper causes of these anxieties. I could only help you pin point your problem by going into a deeper conversation with you, getting to know you inside out and based on all this information I could come up with an assessment. 

So my best advice to you, for the time being, would be to find out what is behind these anxieties, what is your family history, your childhood experiences, have you had different type of anxieties in the past, how are they connected with each other and how does it relate to your current life. How are your (life) choices defined by your anxieties etc. 

It seems you are definitely on the right path though. Continue asking questions, read books, articles, talk with knowledgeable people (Psychology, Spirituality) and most of all find a professional who could help you understand the deeper meaning of your anxieties. 

Wishing you the best of luck !

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