If you feel stuck in your anxiety, then listen to this episode.
First of all, you are not your anxiety. Your anxiety is just a habit, and like any habit, it’s something that you can change. But in order to change a habit, you first need to understand why it’s there and what function it serves. Then you will be able to take control of that habit, and get rid of your anxiety.
Anxiety. Worry. Stress. It all sucks, and we all experience it. That’s because it’s a part of the brain that deals with perceived threats in your environment. That’s actually good--it means your brain is working to protect you, but sometimes that anxiety becomes a habit after the threat is gone (or was never real in the first place).
Once you understand how anxiety works, you’ll be able to see it as a habit or program that your brain automatically runs. Because it’s a habit, you can change it but not on the conscious level. You need to address that habit subconsciously in order to transform it on the neurological level. I’m going to show you how to do that in this episode.
What we’ll talk about in this episode
- Why positivity thinking just won’t work to change your anxiety
- What is horizontal thinking? How is this related to anxiety, and how can you learn to think differently?
- Anxiety is a survival mechanism. The fact that you have it is proof that you’ve survived. But now it’s time to control it
- Stop identifying yourself with your anxiety. You are not an anxious person. You’re a person who has anxious thoughts. And thoughts are something you can control
- What snakes in life are you reacting to that aren’t really there? (Yeah, I know what does that even mean? Look, this one is hard to explain, so...you kind of just need to listen)
- Two ways to control your anxiety
- What exactly is hypnosis? (hint: it’s actually a state where your brain can’t experience anxiety)
Share Your AHA Moment
Every episode should have an AHA moment that just clicks with you. It’s important to focus on one thing you learn from each episode and then WRITE THAT DOWN. You’ll be amazed to see that it really sticks with you after doing this one simple thing.
Of course, that’s going to be different for everyone, so I’d love to hear about yours. Let me know about your AHA moment by emailing me at [email protected]
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Episode 6 - Your Anxiety Is Just A Habit
You’re listening to episode number 6 of the Identity Factor Podcast. Just calm down… relaxxxx… you’re overthinking this… it’s not that big of a deal… Or this one… just be positive…
How many times have you heard those things or something similar when you’ve been experiencing anxiety? Chances are, it only made things worse. And you may have even been the one saying those things to yourself. Well, you’re about to discover why positive thinking is no match for anxiety and what it really takes to relieve the stress, worry, and doubt you may be experiencing. Oh and yes… anxiety… it’s just a habit… and habits can be broken. Stick with me and you’ll begin learning how you can take back control of your life, today.
Hi there, I’m Anthony Serino and by joining this podcast, you’ve started a life-changing journey with me as your tour guide. You’re now also part of a community of like-minded individuals who light this world with passion. As a high performance coach and expert in habit modification I’ve worked with amazing individuals from all over the world who have transformed their lives from within . As you listen to this podcast, you’re going to get an inside look at my science-based approach to transformation.
Yeah, soooo… all that positivity shit… it doesn’t work. And quite frankly, I think that’s why the personal development and self-improvement industry hasn’t really gotten anywhere in DECADES. Sure, countless influences and self-proclaimed gurus are making millions and millions of dollars selling this narrative of positivity and motivational BS…. but nothing has changed for society… there’s been no major breakthrough in happiness for the masses. And people are still on this never-ending journey to beat anxiety. In fact, research shows more people are suffering from anxiety now more than ever.
Oh and before we go any further… I want to make sure you get first dibs when I launch my free training… The Habit Modification Formula… You’ll discover a step-by-step strategy to easily break those old, unwanted habits. And the best part is, it ties into everything we are about to discuss in this episode, because, as I said… anxiety is simply a habit. This free online training is just a couple weeks away from launching and I want you to be the first to have it, so be sure to visit theanthonyserino.com/free and get notified as soon as it’s available. If you’re tired of feeling like a victim of your habits and want to learn how you can take back control, that’s theanthonyserino.com/free
Alright, so… let me just say… I haven’t arrived. I haven’t solved all of life’s questions… but I’ve dedicated my life to researching, refining, and implementing practical science-based solutions for transformation. Also, I’m not a medical professional, counselor, or therapist… so I’m not giving you any medical advice in this episode, but I am going to share with you my own experience with clients who have conquered their anxiety...
And here’s the thing… through all the research I’ve done, and all the experience I have, I can tell you… without a shadow of a doubt… positive thinking is NOT the key to designing the life you want.
If it was… we’d all be able to “think” our ideal life into existence… and at some level, our thoughts do produce our external world… but there’s more to it than just giving yourself positive affirmations every day.
I mean think about it… if you’ve ever read or heard of the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill… why aren’t the millions of people who have read it swimming in money and wealth and abundance.
Well, because like I said… it takes more than just positive thinking to get what you want it life.
And honestly, for most of you listening … I mean I don’t know about you… but when I’m experiencing anxiety…
And to clarify.. I use anxiety as an umbrella term to include stress, worry, doubt, fear, etc…
But when I’m experiencing anxiety… the LAST thing I want to hear is someone telling me “Anthony, just think positive”
And that may be you too… you’re thinking “you tell me to be positive when I just lost this big account at work or when my business is failing”... or “you tell me to be positive with this election coming up?” “or be positive when I have this health issue going on?”
You tell me to be positive when I have this difficult situation going on in my life and feels like everything is falling apart.
You tell me to be positive when going through this breakup or this divorce…
So then what? You end up buying into it… because you WANT to be positive… of course you do.. We all do. So you start trying to talk yourself out of that anxiety.
BUT… what happens? Well, anxiety is a habit… and since you haven’t broken the habit… your brain… your reptilian brain continues to fire it off despite you consciously telling yourself to snap out of it. That’s because we get into this battle between our subconscious, which is run by that reptilian part of the brain, and our conscious analytical thought, which is run by our prefrontal cortex.
And even if you haven’t been with me for a while, or haven’t listened to previous episodes… you already know which part wins nearly every single time.
So despite the positive self talk… that anxiety doesn’t relent.
And then you feel bad because you feel like you’re incapable of being positive. Which in turn makes you feel even worse about yourself and the situation that caused you to have anxious thoughts in the first place.
Which of course causes you to have even more anxiety. And now you’re anxious about being anxious.
And here’s a bit of brain science… whenever we have a thought or an emotional response… or execute some physical action or behavior… our brain communicates via neural pathways to make it happen. And these neural pathways are connections between cells that allow them to communicate in order to produce a specific outcome in the form of an action, thought, or emotion.
To put it simply… when you’re experiencing anxiety … or really any habit… certain neural pathways are firing off and they fire the same way each time your brain decides to produce that anxiety or habit. Once again, anxiety IS a habit… but the more those neural pathways are activated, the stronger they get and the easier it is for your brain to activate them in the future.
So the more anxiety you have, the more anxiety you have. Sucks, huh?
But the good news is, there are highly effective techniques and strategies to create new neural pathways that map to the outcomes we want. If you listened to episode 4, How to Modify your habits, then you already have a huge head start on taking back control of that anxiety. If you haven’t listened to it yet, make a note to go back and give it a listen… because I share with you some actionable advice that you can use to break any habit, including anxiety..
So let’s talk about these neural pathways...
It’s like hiking in the woods… the path most traveled is the clearest and easiest to go down… and that path gets ingrained into the earth. And of course, at anytime, you could choose to make a new path… it would take a little effort and some consistency… but the more you hiked along that new path… the clearer it would become and the easier it would be to travel.
And what else happens when you start taking a new path… the old one becomes overgrown
A similar process happens in the brain. It’s a process called long term potentiation and it’s where we get the saying “neurons that fire together wire together”. What that means is the more you do, think, or feel something, the stronger those neural pathway connections get and the easier it gets for your brain to activate that action, thought, or emotion.
And although that process is what makes it easy for us to get into the habit of anxiety, it’s also the key to getting out of the habit of anxiety.
Oh, and you must internalize this… you are NOT an anxious person. You are a person who has anxious thoughts. And thoughts can never be more powerful than the person who created them.
That right there should give you, not only a sense of freedom from that anxiety, but a sense of control over it.
Because you can always choose to think differently. It’s really that simply. In fact, your thoughts are one of the ONLY things in life that you have complete and total control over.
But what tends to happen when something triggers that anxiety? And once again, when I say anxiety, I’m referring to everything we lump under anxiety… stress, fear, resentment, overwhelm, guilt, etc…
Well we get into what I refer to as horizontal thinking. Where some person, event, or situation triggers a thought… which then triggers an emotional response in the form of anxiety.. Which in turn triggers more thoughts which are unrelated to the initial person, event, or situation. And on and on it goes.
This is when people come to me saying “Anthony, I’m stuck in my anxiety”...
Oh and let me say this… stop that shit… it’s not your anxiety… stop personalizing it. You are YOU. your thoughts are YOUR thoughts, your habits are YOUR habits… your thoughts and habits are not YOU.
And once you really come to understand what I’m saying here… like really come to KNOW that you are so much more than your thoughts and habits… that’s when you liberate yourself and regain control over your life.
And guess what… you weren’t born with that anxiety… you weren’t born with any of the habits, beliefs, or thoughts you have now.. You learned all of it somewhere along the way and you’ve developed these brain-based programs that run it all automatically.
So as you begin to accept that all anxiety is is a habit that you learned, that your brain developed, you begin to realize the control you have over that anxiety. Because as we know, and what you learned back in episode 4, habits can be broken, modified, and created.
Now, you may be wondering… why did my brain develop anxiety?
Well at some point, perhaps during childhood, or during some emotionally charged event in your past, that anxiety… that emotional response, was the solution to a perceived problem.
And what happened is your brain said “Hey, this event, person, or situation is bad for Mary and I have to make sure we don’t let her get into a similar experience ever again”
And your brain activates these anxious thoughts and emotions as a PROTECTIVE MECHANISM in order to protect you from anything it determines will jeopardize your safety or make you uncomfortable.
First and foremost, some anxiety is normal… it’s what keeps me from putting my hand near the mouth of a big dog I’ve just met.
Issues arise though when that anxiety, that protective mechanism, is overactive and get’s triggered in events and situations, or with people, that really aren’t a threat to you - at least not anymore.
And that threat… it’s based on perception and interpretation… old programming really… where, like I said, at some point, the threat was very real, especially if we are talking about something that happened as a child, but now as adults that person, event or situation isn’t really a threat to us anymore.
Okay, so let me back up a bit here because I kind of have two different throughlines happening here… first anxiety as a habit we do, really, a pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior.
And also, we just talked about anxiety being a protective mechanism based on perception and interpretation.
Well, I help my one-on-one clients and my community overcome anxiety in two ways… first, by teaching them how to break the habit of anxiety by using pattern interrupts in order to rewire their brain at a neurological level. And I ALSO, facilitate massive shifts in perception and interpretation via subconscious reprogramming so that they (and when I see they I really mean their brains) so that they can see what they once perceived or interpreted as a threat, is really no longer a threat to them.
Here, let’s say you and I are hiking in the woods… and I’m taking this analogy out of my friend Dan Candell’s playbook… which if you haven’t heard of him, go check him out. He’s an author, speaker, and widely considered the leader in anxiety relief… and actually, by the time this episode airs, we’ll have done a free live training in our private facebook group, Inside The Identity Factor. So be sure to head over there, join the group, and you’ll have instant access to a replay of the training. That’s Inside The Identity Factor on Facebook.
Ok so… let’s say you and I are hiking in the woods and we are in an area where there’s known to be a lot of snakes. Now, you’re in front of me and we’re walking along… and suddenly something catches your eye… it’s this big long brown thing... and you freak out, jump, and run away screaming “SNAAAAKE”
But then I come up after you to check out what’s going on… and realize that the big long brown thing is just a stick… so I yell up to you “it’s just a stick”...
And what happens? Your perception instantly changes, your breathing begins to return to a nice normal natural pace, and you may even begin to laugh realizing you just freaked out at a STICK.
And this illustrates why it’s so important to audit our perceptions and actively work to shift them in a way that serves us and not in a way that perpetuates that anxiety. The quickest, most efficient way to do that is through subconscious reprogramming.
Let me ask you this… what quote unquote “snakes” in your life are you reacting to that aren’t really there.
Here is why subconscious programming is so useful. Because your anxiety is not a conscious issue, it’s a subconscious issue. Anxiety is a program being run automatically by the reptilian part of our brain… and as I mentioned earlier in this episode, you’ve probably realized… you can give yourself all the positive affirmations and self talk that you want… but that habit of anxiety continues to get triggered.
It’s as if there’s a part of you that wants one thing… and a part of you that wants the complete opposite.
Well as an expert in habit modification, I work with the part of the brain directly responsible for activating our habits. And I do this by using a number of different modalities, but I’m highly trained specifically in hypnosis… and what I do is I not only facilitate clients getting into a state of hypnosis… I also teach them how to do it themselves. And once you are in a state of hypnosis, and I’ll explain hypnosis in more detail in a moment, once you are in that state, you are communicating DIRECTLY with your subconscious/unconscious mind WITHOUT the filter of your conscious analytical mind interfering.
Of course, a lot of people, especially in my neck of the woods, they flinch when they hear the word hypnosis… but it’s really not some woo-woo mystical or taboo thing. In fact, there are thousands of peer-reviewed studies that not only point to the efficacy of hypnosis, but show that it often OUTPERFORMS traditional modalities. And really, it’s a neurological process and brain wave state that we experience NATURALLY every single day.
In the context that we talk about it here, we can use that already occurring process and state intentionally to make changes to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Like I said, there’s literally thousands of studies… we’re talking studies from Harvad, Columbia, yale, all these major ivy league schools as well as major medical research organizations like the Mayo Clinic and the national institute of health.
Don’t believe me? Go to scholar.google.com and search “hypnosis”... and you’ll see an endless list of results linked directly to these studies I’m referring to.
Anyways… when I say the word hypnosis… you could literally exchange it with “power of your mind” or “subconscious reprogramming” which is an umbrella term I tend to use. And really it’s very similar to guided meditation and visualization in a lot of ways.
Oh, and no… you can’t hurt yourself or someone else with hypnosis. I mean, you’ve never turned on the news and heard “New York man hospitalized after using hypnosis”” and you’ve never heard about someone getting stuck in hypnosis and having to go to the hospital to get out of it. And there’s also a distinction here… you go IN to hypnosis, not UNDER hypnosis.
And really, all hypnosis is is a consensual process where a professional hypnotist, you or can do it yourself, guides you into a heightened state of focus and suggestibility wherein you can intentionally make brain-based changes resulting in new thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a sense of non-volition.
So why I am telling you about hypnosis, other than the obvious reason that I’m a board certified hypnotist and it’s my tool of choice?
Well, invariably… when someone comes to me because they’re experiencing a level of anxiety that is negatively impacting their life… whether in business, or with their family, or wherever… once they are in a state of hypnosis… they report being UNABLE to experience that anxiety. I would go so far as to say 100% of the time, when you get into a relaxed state and shift your attention … it is impossible for your brain to run that habit of anxiety.
Hypnosis, whether with a professional like myself, or doing self-hypnosis, hypnosis just happens to be the quickest, most effective way of reaching that relaxed and focused state. But meditation and other similar processes can get you there.
And listen, my clients come from all different backgrounds and demographics… I have clients from across the globe… from the west coast, to the east coast here in new york, all the way to Australia…
And guess what? They all experience anxiety.
Here’s the thing… my clients who experience the quickest most profound transformation, are the ones who don’t play the victim. They may have felt stuck in that anxiety, but at some level they know they have control, they know there’s a way out, but it’s up to them to make the conscious decision to change.
So let me ask you… are you playing a victim to your anxiety?
And before we finish up here… I always ask.. what was the aha factor for you in this episode? What resonated with you? And remember, the aha factor… it’s both a sense of wonder and a sense of knowing.
So what do you know now that you didn’t know before? What are some ideas from this episode that you’re going to start integrating into your own life?
Of course there’s always sense of freedom when you finally realize that anxiety is just a habit.. And habits can be broken.
Or maybe you understand for the first time that those anxious thoughts are an overactive protective mechanism developed by your brain… and it’s as simple as changing your perceptions in order to free yourself.
OKAY! that’s it for episode number SIX of the identity factor… these episodes have building on each other and they’re all interconnected in some way. So be sure to go back and listen again starting at episode 1… oh, and your time with me here… it’s meant to be interactive… this is information you must actively integrate into your life… so for more great content, show notes, and details on this episode, head over theanthonyserino.com and click on the podcast page.
Next week’s episode…. It’s ALL ABOUT THAT MONEY! And wealth and prosperity… so go subscribe now if you haven’t already, and be one of the first to get notified when next week’s episode drops.
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