Stress, anxiety, and frustration are feelings that everyone experiences from time to time, just like happiness, excitement, and joy. There is this tendency to connect the latter to what has occurred. “I am so overjoyed my granddaughter was born today…I could not be happier that family is visiting…I am so excited to be graduating!” When it comes to the initially identified feelings though, people tend to shrug their shoulders and through up their hands exhausted, “I don’t know why I’m so stressed…I don’t know why these anxiety attacks keep happening…I don’t know; it just happens!”
“It just happens,” implies automatic. That is exactly what is occurring for many of us. Our senses, memories, and thoughts are trying to tell us something. But, these processes are so automatic that we often times do not realize they have occurred. Go back to the anxious individual throwing up their hands. Perhaps, they have experienced increasingly intense anxiety everyday for the last three months. At some point, you stop noticing what precipitated the feeling, even though the precipitating factors still occur. Your senses still take cues from the environment, memories still triggered, and thought processes still flowing.
If you find yourself throwing up your hands, take some time to truly be present with yourself and your thoughts. What automatic processes are occurring that could use your attention? The first part of changing your answer from “I don’t know,” to “I was thinking…” is acknowledging that it has taken place.