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Anxiety's Yin and Yang: Live the Balance, Be At Peace

November 29, 2018 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Anxiety and its management have a yin and yang. Read about acceptance and action, complimentary forces that provide a balanced approach to reducing anxiety.

Anxiety has a yin and a yang, which, when embraced, can help you find the balance that reduces anxiety. Originating from ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are complementary forces, opposite but not oppositional. They are balancing energies that can at once both soothe and strengthen. Everything and everyone has yin and yang, including anxiety and its reduction. Anxiety's (and anxiety management's) yin and yang, its balancing forces, are acceptance and action. You can use acceptance and action to soothe your anxiety and move ahead into your quality life. 

Anxiety's Yin and Yang: Acceptance and Action

Yin and yang, in this case acceptance and action, reduce anxiety. When developed, they become part who you are, how you think and feel, and what you do. Living these principles helps you reduce those aspects of anxiety that you can and accept those that you can't.

Acceptance might be thought of as the yin. Yin is more passive than yang. When acceptance is used to reduce anxiety, however, "passive" isn't quite the right word. Words that describe acceptance include gentle, soft, releasing, allowing, and separating. It's passive only in that it doesn't resist, fight, or do things to get rid of anxiety. 

Acceptance involves recognizing what you can't change, separating yourself from it to let it go, and living in the present moment. Acceptance frees you from attachment to anxiety-provoking things you can't control. Acceptance is a choice, and it takes practice to make it natural. 

If acceptance is anxiety's yin, action is the yang. Yang is active and dynamic than acceptance. Action involves determining what you can do (as opposed to dismiss) to overcome anxiety.

As typical for yin and yang, acceptance and action complement each other. Both are necessary for reducing anxiety and living freely. Using both yin and yang creates a balance in managing anxiety for life. Reflecting on some pertinent questions helps you use acceptance and action. 

Reflection Questions to Explore Anxiety's Yin and Yang

These reflection questions can help you determine when to practice acceptance and when to take action:

  • What is the nature of my anxiety: physical, emotional, cognitive (thoughts), a combination?
  • If I could change my anxiety now, how would I want it to be?
  • By extension, how do want to be now: Energized? Relaxed? Calm? Charged with excitement to move forward?
  • Is my anxiety about the past, present, near future, or distant, vague future?
  • Can I do something about my anxiety? If so, what do I want to do? If not, how will I accept it and be at peace?

Questions like these help you understand your anxiety, whether or not you can change things, and what you want for yourself. Then, you can practice acceptance or take action steps to reduce anxiety and feel calm. Let the following tips help you begin to balance acceptance and action. 

Tips for Reducing Anxiety with Acceptance and Action

To harness acceptance:

  • Reflect gently and without judgment: Are you trying to control your situations, change people or things, and/or avoid problems?
  • Describe how your life feels. If it feels limited and anxious, it might be time to accept what you can't change and drop the struggle. 
  • Fully experience your present moment with mindfulness. When anxiety intrudes, return your attention to your "now" and refocus peacefully.

To embrace action:

  • Define your values and goals, the reasons you want to be free from anxiety.
  • Determine small action steps to get yourself where you want to be.
  • Take the steps and do something every day to reduce your anxiety and work toward your goals.

To reduce anxiety, you can accept it and you can actively work to lower it. Approaching this with balance, such as using both acceptance and action, is a holistic approach of yin and yang in which anxiety will fade and you will shine. 

For more on the complementary yet opposing forces at work in anxiety, feel free to tune in to the below video. 

Tags: yin and yang

APA Reference
NCC, T. (2018, November 29). Anxiety's Yin and Yang: Live the Balance, Be At Peace, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/11/anxietys-yin-and-yang-live-the-balance-be-at-peace



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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