06/21/2012 03:40 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

How Does One Overcome Anxiety?

This question originally appeared on Quora.
By Nan Waldman, Quora User

Consider reparenting yourself.

Imagine an ideal parent loving you completely -- and unconditionally.  What would that parent say to you when you begin feeling anxiety or fear?

S/he would say you are wonderful. That you must be gentle with yourself. S/he would wrap you in an embrace and call you Baby, murmuring to you, stroking your cheek. You would sink into this beloved parent, safe and protected by love.

That unconditional love which we learn to associate with parental sufficiency may be lacking in your emotional toolkit. It is up to you to develop the image and the feeling of relaxation and sufficiency that this image / meditation brings. It will, if practiced, give you the ability to fill in childhood's emotional gaps. No child feels calm and well-adjusted without feelings of sufficiency. Instead, panic and anxiety replace sufficiency born of calm, because we are always worried, always seeking, always afraid without that sufficiency. That calm is a balm for all humans. Religious and spiritual people think of this as a parental blessing, but however you think of it, it is what a sweet baby needs to feel safe and loved.

No matter what you did, no matter what your thoughts may have been, no matter how rage-filled or confused you may be, or how much regret you have for past actions, the past does not equal the future -- and, if you can focus all of your energy on creating emotional sufficiency through imagery of an ideal parent in any moment of anxiety, you will arm yourself for the world's slings and arrows in a non-defensive and welcoming way.

That is, you will feel yourself loved, and able to love -- everything and everyone. Because you will feel there is enough goodness in the world to share it.

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