Have you ever felt like the person you are right now is disintegrating? Who you were is falling apart…disassembling…disappearing…piece by piece, characteristic by characteristic. Maybe you’ve even said, “I’m afraid that I’m losing myself,” or “I’m worried because I don’t feel like myself anymore.” If so, you are suffering from disintegration anxiety.
The experience of your current identity disintegrating is accompanied by anxiety, fear, and stress. Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes shallow and fast, and your headaches. Maybe you even believe that you will cease to exist if the process continues. Thus, your anxiety increases based on the fear that your existence is threatened.
This is disintegration anxiety at its worst, but you might experience it to a lesser degree. In either case, it’s nothing to fear, especially if transformation is what you desire.
My Experience of Disintegration Anxiety
I have heard the term disintegration anxiety many times. However, I hadn’t experienced it personally until a few weeks ago. That’s when I started having migraines, feeling a noticeable level of stress, and struggling to breathe while simply sitting at my desk.
“Do I have disintegration anxiety?” I wondered.
After all, I recently recommitted to my marriage, which has meant some significant changes in the relationship. It also necessitated changing myself—letting go of old stories, reactions, and habits.
Plus, I moved just two and a half months prior. My husband and I left our home of 17 years in California and bought a new one in New Mexico. This entailed packing and unpacking, moving out and in, adjusting to a new place, making new friends, and getting acquainted with a different environment.
Additionally, I’d been pressuring myself to begin writing again, ease back on my work hours (while making more money), and develop some new habits, like exercising, reading, and meditating daily.
Add all that up, and it’s a lot of change. And each one required my identity—who I was—to shift as I became someone slightly…or enormously…different.
“No wonder I’m feeling stressed and anxious!” I reasoned.
What is Disintegration Anxiety?
My experience sent me to Google to research disintegration anxiety. If you’re new to the term or, like me, wanting to understand it better, let me share what I discovered.
The experience of disintegration anxiety refers to a feeling of extreme anxiety caused by the belief your personality is “falling to pieces” or disintegrating into disconnected elements.
The theory of positive disintegration is a complex one related to personality development. This theory claims symptoms of poor mental health may be part of a necessary process of growing into the best version of yourself by successfully navigating difficult inner-states. Simply said, disintegration anxiety is part of the process required to let go of the old you so you can become the new you.
I supposed “poor mental health” could be anything—even being pessimistic, judgmental, or fearful. And if you simply find yourself stuck in circular negative thinking, positive disintegration—a more pleasant term than disintegration anxiety—helps you change these inner states. Thus, it’s part of the transformation process.
Reframe Disintegration Anxiety
Most of us give any type of anxiety a negative meaning. So, even if you want to change into a better version of yourself, you probably want to avoid experiencing disintegration anxiety. So, let’s reframe this term further.
Call the experience of positive disintegration transformation.
After all, most of us on the personal or spiritual growth path seek transformation. We want to evolve. That requires changing our identity and stepping into new ways of being.
We have to let old mindsets, habits, triggers, and stories go for that to happen. We have to decide to be someone different and allow pieces of our old self to drop away so we can become the new self.
And those uncomfortable sensations? Call that energy shifting or spirit running through you. For example, I totally reframed the fast breathing as moments when I’m in the process of transformation or evolution. Now, I welcome these experiences because they mean I am growing and changing.
Mind the Gap
When you experience uncomfortable bodily sensations related to transformation, you are in the space between who you are now and who you will be. I call this being in the gap (rather than disintegration anxiety).
In the gap, you are fully immersed in the energy of that transitional space. In fact, you are having a transformational experience.
Yet, you don’t want to remain there for too long. But if you focus on the discomfort, become afraid, and wish you didn’t have to go through this experience, you will stay in the gap longer than necessary.
So, I offer you the same caution as when riding the tubes in London. Signs and announcements in the subway tell you to “mind the gap.” Of course, you don’t want to get your foot stuck in the space between the platform and the train and then have the train speed away.
It’s the same when you are transforming. You don’t want to get stuck in the gap.
3 Ways to Reduce Disintegration Anxiety
I have discovered a few ways to move out of the gap or transitional space between who you were and who you will be more quickly.
First, if you feel that odd breathing pattern or a degree of stress or anxiety, don’t fight it or get worried. Instead, allow it to happen. Sit with it. Meditate in or on that experience. And see where it takes you.
Second, develop a heightened awareness of your growth on a spiritual and personal level. You are a spiritual being having a human experience, so it is normal to feel your transformation happening in both realms separately or simultaneously. Pay attention every day to the sensations or insights you are having. Explore them.
Third, embrace whatever experience you are having—even the sense that you are disintegrating or losing yourself. Feel gratitude for your transformation. It is why you are here and a normal part of human evolution.
You are Evolving
Positive disintegration doesn’t have to make you anxious when you realize it is part and parcel of what you desire—transformation. Rejoice in the fact that you are evolving. You are becoming who you are meant to be.
Think of yourself as an alchemist taking some of your old identity or characteristics and transmuting them into something new. On the other hand, perhaps, you prefer to see yourself as a magician, creating something out of nothing—out of the space you have created as you let go of the parts of yourself that no longer serve you.
Indeed, such personal and spiritual growth requires losing or dropping pieces of yourself as you transform. The Kabbalists believe that Source created the universe, earth, and its inhabitants out of a void. Since Source was everywhere and everything, it had to pull back and make space for something new.
In the same way, as the old you disintegrates, you create a void that provides the space in which to create the new you. That’s a powerful opportunity to decide who will you be when you emerge from the gap.
Have you experienced disintegration anxiety? Tell me about your experience in a moment below. And please share this post with a friend.
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