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By Brianna Wiest

Success is usually counter-intuitive.

If you want to succeed at something, observe what the status quo is, and do the polar opposite. Ignoring consensus is, ironically, what creates things that are new, interesting and useful. One decade’s counter-culture is often the next’s mainstream. “The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.”

The same is true for emotional wellness. It’s counter-intuitive that sometimes what you feel is not indicative of what is happening in reality. It’s counter-intuitive that “desirable difficulties” exist, or that people often credit their biggest obstacles as being the catalysts for their most valuable successes.

And one of the most powerful tools for transforming and eliminating the big problems in your life is counter-intuitive as well. It’s doing exactly what you think you shouldn’t: accepting them, wanting them, saying thank you for them.

As soon as a bout of anxiety pops up, say thank you so much for this feeling. If you do it enough (and you will have to do it repeatedly until it becomes a default response) what you’re doing is eliminating resistance. And it’s the resistance that’s hurting you, and preventing you from actually taking action on the issue.

This isn’t anything new or novel. It’s the Four Noble Truths: pain exists, suffering is optional, what creates suffering is resistance to pain.

As soon as you say “thank you” for the problem, you calm down. You’re not in fight or flight mode anymore. You can think clearly. You can see how much of the issue at hand is an actual problem, and how much you’ve conflated in your mind. Then you can more effectively take action.

Telling yourself that you want to have anxiety or that you are grateful for your anxiety doesn’t actually make you have more of it, it makes it go away. It’s similar to how telling yourself that you don’t want it tends to make it worse.

What happens when you think: “I do not want this feeling?” You are thinking about the feeling. You are creating the experience you claim to not want.

If every solution you’ve tried has been futile so far, it could be because everything you are doing is in resistance to the problem, and the more you resist, the more it persists. Maybe the answer is the one thing that seems just unlikely enough to work.

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