Anxiety is often caused by the lingering effects of negative memories. In this article, you will be given tools to help you identify which memories are unresolved and how you can use simple thinking tools to heal your anxiety.

Anxiety takes many forms. It can be a panic attack where you feel like you are having a heart attack. It can be fear of a specific thing, such as spiders, water, medical equipment or closed spaces. A specific phobia was probably caused by a bad memory related to the feared object. For example, if you were knocked down by a big wave the first time you went in the ocean you can be afraid of water. Generalized anxiety is caused by the belief that you will not be able to handle something. Memories of scary situations, such as parents fighting can cause you to believe that life is too much and you can’t handle it. It is helpful to get pictures, ask people what happened, and change the way you view the memory. By looking at pictures and talking to parents or others from your past you will retrieve good and bad memories. The next four ideas will show you how to resolve the memories.

Select a pleasant memory and a scary memory. Close your eyes, get comfortable, and visualize the pleasant memory for about 15 minutes. Then visualize the scary memory for about five minutes. Don’t be too rigid about the timing. Return to the pleasant memory and visualize it for ten more minutes. Notice how you feel about the scary movie. You are likely to no longer be afraid.

When you visualize, it helps to do more than see pictures. Notice the sounds that you remember, any physical sensations, scents or smells. The more senses you bring into it the more likely you will be in the feelings of the memory.

Don't worry if you fare better with some sensations than others. Some people are more visual and picture sights well. Others are more auditory and remember the sounds. If you are a musician or good speaker you may be primarily auditory. You will remember sounds better than sights. Some people remember the physical sensations better than sights or sounds. If you are an athlete or like massage you may be more kinesthetic. When you visualize a memory you will remember more of the physical sensations than the sights and sounds. Olfactory (sights and sounds) or gustatory (food) can be recalled depending on how you like certain thing.

Perhaps you hesitate to visualize the negative memory with much detail. Don't worry if it's not as detailed as the positive. You are going to override it with positive feelings. Congratulations, you have now completed the first exercise.

When you feel anxious, you probably have developed many beliefs such as, “I can’t handle much,” “Life is scary,” and “People are scary.” Write the beliefs that you have from the positive as well as the negative memory from the previous exercise. Compare the beliefs and see if any beliefs from the positive memory contradict the belief from the negative. For example, “I can’t handle much,” then you remember handling a difficult situation in the past. The belief can change to “I handled something as challenging as this in the past, so I can handle anything that is as challenging as this or less challenging now.” Additionally you can think "Now I have completed the second exercise".

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety. People with OCD check doorknobs, burners, and locks, over and over to make sure that it is taken care of. Although it was taken care of (locked, shut off) the first time. One simple technique for handling this is to say out loud “Door locked, burner off” etc. The sound remains in your mind for up to a minute, so it can be reassuring that you did turn the burner off and lock the front door. You can also take a picture on your cell phone and delete it when you get home. This third exercise is a good habit to get into.

If you do not have positive memories to override the negatives you can take action, with the support of a friend or a therapist. For example, suppose you were trapped in an elevator and am now afraid of elevators. You could go into an elevator with your therapist guiding you through the experience. If you are afraid of the water you and a friend could take swimming lessons. If being with he friend does not help, then do this fourth exercise with a trained therapist.

The purpose of the meditation ( Exercise 1) is to eliminate the anxious feeling by flooding it with pleasant feelings. It will work only if you spend more time on the pleasant memory and the associated feelings.

People with anxiety often anticipate the worst outcome so they will not be blindsided when it happens. The problem with this is that you will feel anxious all the time. It is better to be mindful and only think of what you are doing at the moment.

The worst thing you can do when you are anxious or panicking is to try to fight it. This will only put more pressure on you and you will become more anxious. Ironically, when you acknowledge that you are having an attack it can lessen the intensity. Denying that it is there will make it worse because that is similar to saying that there are no rabbits or groundhogs attacking your garden when there are. The animals will eat your garden. You pretend you are not panicking andthe panic will get worse.

If you believe that you can’t handle something you will always be anxious. Some people are so anxious that they never leave their house. They need to heal their memories and beliefs that caused them to be afraid.

Avoiding a fear only makes the fear stronger. It is better to face it. In the previous example, if you fear water and take swimming lessons, the more times you are in the water and do not drown the less fearful you will become. You will gain confidence as you learn the strokes. Face your fears.

There are many ways that you can change your thinking when you feel anxious. Apply these techniques and you not only can eliminate anxiety, but you will feel empowered that you can control your thinking and consequentially control your feelings. Then you can move on to a happier and more successful present and future.

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Author's Bio: 

Frank Healy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Life Coach. He is one of about 50 people who have been classified as having Hyperthymesia by the University of California. Frank participated in their reserch studies because he remembers every day of his life since he was six years old. He is now 53. His memory of each day includes the day of the week, the weather in his locale, news events and personal experiences. Recalling so much in his life had it's advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include recall of every happy experience he had with friends, family, school, and his wife. The corollary of that is that he remembers all of the negative things. Bad days at work and school, slights from people, bad days at jobs, romantic breakups etc. Before he began his own journey he would recall bad memories with the same emotional intensity as if he was experiencing it now. He had learn to let go of the feelings. He now counsels and coaches people to heal from the ill affects of their own traumatic and unpleasant memories. This can help people be happier and move on to a successful present and future.

Frank lives with his wife in Dennisville, New Jersey. He is in private practice at Associates For Life Enhancement in Northfield, New Jersey. Frank enjoys going to the beach, reading, writing, playing quizzo with friends (It's a trivia game) and playing ball wth his grandsons.