When you are anxious you are on the spectrum of fight, flight or freeze. All of which fall somewhere between uncomfortable and horrible. That is because your brain is telling your body via a tsunami bio-chemistry that you are in trouble. Unfortunately, most of the time, this is not true. Anxiety is when we have a pervasive, but inaccurate, sense in our body (thoughts and feelings) that something is really not okay. It is exhausting and defeating. There is hope, a lot of hope. Understanding your anxiety is a huge step toward taking the edges off of it.
Our brain is loyal and committed but, it tends to overreact. The default of the brain is to look for threats and problems. The real problem is that with nearly infinite information available to the brain, our brains have to choose what to pay attention to, and choose quickly (tiny fractions of a second). Our brain also always errs on the side of keeping us safe, which means assuming danger wherever possible. So, when left to default settings, it looks for all the scary stuff first and often doesn't have room or time for the rest (the good stuff).
When the brain establishes that there is scary stuff (which is a self fulfilling prophecy), it turns on the fight, flight, freeze response in the animal part of our brain. Heart rates rise, breathing gets shallow and rapid, our body is in a code red. It also limits access to the higher part of our brain because that part is too slow. Our higher brain likes to take it's time, collect more information and offer thoughtful responses. This is what a six year old client called his peace brain. Sounds nice huh? This is not an option unless we can convince the animal brain to stand down. This pattern only strengthens over time. Our brain thinks it's getting better and better at keeping us safe, when in reality it is making it harder and harder to be happy and grateful.
To understand why some people's brain's are so much more loyal and protective, let us talk about your childhood. I'm kidding...sorta. We can find out a lot by looking back at patterns and experiences, but we don't have to do that at this point. Entertain the idea that the voice of the fear brain generally feels pretty unempowered and small...like a kid. Usually the one liners that the fear brain is screaming out sound like a fearful kid. They are concerned with fundamental safety and being lovable, which are probably not real problems (if they are it is not anxiety, but stress). These are not rationale adult thoughts. Of course, adults have them, but they are fears that arise as young children and never leave. Check it out for yourself. Next time you lose it, ask yourself, do I feel like an grown up or a kid?
So, why you? For reasons, we do not necessarily need to know now, you have a very vigilant inner child. This is likely a combination of nurture (yes, your parents) and nature (you just came this way) and whatever else we are yet to understand about the nature of human experience. Assigning blame is not helpful. Why is less important than accepting this is a real 'thing' for you. Running away from it or telling it to just stop, only makes it worse. That confirms in your nervous system that something is really scary and wrong. For whatever reasons, this is simply something that is part of your job in life right now. Go toward it and the job will be done better and faster.
First, we have to begin to notice when we are anxious. This is huge because being able to observe the experience changes how we experience it, and thus, gives is a tiny window to slip in other options. So, when you notice, say; "hey, I'm anxious, that means my brain is sending out all those hormones that make my body feel like this". Try to entertain the thought that even though you really don't like this feeling, you can do it, you can get through it. I mean, let's get honest, you've 'gotten through it' for years. Simply starting to debunk the brain's story about this being a real threat that could kill you is beginning to change the actual neural wiring of your brain!
If can notice your own anxiety you can also begin to see that you know how it well. You know how it goes and how it ends and how long it usually lasts, and on and on. Begin to observe it, not just have it. From this observer role, you may make an effort to affect the feeling. If you can't think yourself out of it, then feel yourself out of it. Try to interrupt the physical side effects of the biochemical tsunami. Deepen your breathing & slow your heart rate. NO thinking except to make sure your are breathing deeper and your heart is slowing. The brain and body work in concert, so that your body can send the conflicting information back (we are okay), forcing the brain to stand down. You should know this skill only gets more effective each time you do it.
Finally, this may be a anit-climactic conclusion, but the only other thing we need to do is stop giving ourselves so much sh*t about being anxious. This is a brilliant and well meaning attempt by your brain to take care of you, like a well meaning parent always afraid you're going to shoot your eye out. We need to learn to ignore the hype and trust our own grown up self has us covered .