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The Gift of Anxiety

When you hear the word anxiety, what thoughts often come to your mind? For most within our “fast-paced” culture, anxiety is thought of as a sign or symptom that we are “functional” members of society.

When it comes to our relationship with anxiety, it is most likely something that we believe must be:

  1. Managed
  2. Controlled
  3. Ignored

But what if there was another option? What if anxiety could be viewed as a gift, something that is here to teach us something? Now if you have intense social anxiety, or are unable to leave your house due to a deep sense of fear, hearing that sounds insulting most likely.

Anxiety is most often viewed as something that limits our experience, that stops us from being able to express the fullness of who and what we are:

  • We want to get up on stage and talk to others, but start shaking when we do.
  • We want to go after our “dream job” but walk into the interview and our mind goes blank.
  • We want to go on a trip somewhere, or see a friend, or have a connection and we find ourselves unable to even attempt these things.

So we meditate, we obtain therapy, we do everything in our power to “deal with” this aspect of our experience.

And yet, even those who don’t “struggle” with anxiety disclose that they get anxious. It’s because fear and anxiety are often two words that we put together, due to viewing them as part of a single experience. But, unlike fear, what if we viewed anxiety as our teacher rather than something to resist, cope with, or manage?

A psychedelic forest.

“Entangled Oasis” by Lisa Horlander

I left my session with Darcy very puzzled, unsure of what I did. How was I supposed to help Darcy, when all the treatment planning, amazing therapeutic interventions, and other ideas had been tried? Often when I get stuck with a case I tend to drop my planning and return to the following session intent to listen even deeper to the client’s experience.

As Darcy talked about the nature of her anxiety I began to feel in my body that rather than fight or block her anxiety, what if we welcomed it? What if, rather than resisting it, Darcy allowed anxiety to bring awareness to her that nothing was off with reality but instead with her experience of reality?

Or to quote Alan Watts: “When the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.”As research is starting to show, anxiety is linked to our ability to process information quickly, not correctly. What if anxiety is a call from ourselves to take a step back? “In other words, there’s something wrong with the way that we think, and while that is there, everything we do will be a mess.”

Darcy returned to the following session in tears because she had begun to experience a reality with reduced anxiety. This was not, from my understanding, a sense of “self-love” as so many self-help books suggest. As she told me, “it’s who I am here, right now in this session that matters”. Darcy’s anxiety had become her friend, had become a reminder to return to herself, to the present moment, to the now.

Anxiety is something that we know rests in the body and forms in the amygdala and hippocampus parts of the brain. The amygdala is tied to our fear response, while the hippocampus is tied to our long-term memory and emotional responses.

Therefore, anxiety is a teacher that shows us we are responding not just emotionally, but from a place of fear and memory. It’s almost like we are using this aspect of pure “logic and planning” that anxiety seems to arise within us stronger and stronger. Yet human beings are a balance, between the planned and the unplanned, between the order and the spontaneity of life. It’s not running from our emotional reactions, or medicating them, that provides answers. It’s the awareness of obstacles that allows us to be present.

So what if anxiety, rather than being something we run from, manage or embrace, is a sign, a signifier, a teacher? Is it simply a signal from within? It seems to me that anxiety is a reminder to return to the present moment. Each year, each week, each day unfolds in a way that is at least a little different than how we planned it. What if this teacher, and how we view it, could change everything about our lives.

Healersmagazine.com

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When someone is changing right in front of your eyes !!!!!

When you have a loved one and you start to notice different behaviors such as if they are usually easy going, kind hearted, gentle, would never hurt you mentally and or physically, then in a fast amount of time they become angry, mean, temper tantrums, violent mentally, You cant put your finger on it but you know something is wrong, They normally were right on top of everything bills, what ever needed to be done and instead even items on a grocery list are not there, bills not getting paid, loosing important papers, loosing medications just picked up at the pharmacy.

When asking what’s going on, You receive a very defensive person, they may kick you out of the house, or their bedroom, they become isolated, I feel this is out of depression and fear of what is happening to them. They know something is not right, they may sleep more, drink more, have more pain specially in the head, emotional episodes that were confusing . Behavior that makes them not appropriate in public, They fight you on everything,

Finally they may if a strong person may come to you and cry, like a baby, admitting they need help, they don’t know what is wrong, but they are forgetting things, not just normal age type things, like where they are, where they are going, after you give directions you still end up at the wrong place, they learn to adapt and how to cover up what’s happening. But still defensive, they can become paranoid, pace the floor, urinate in their pants and can’t hold it anymore, accuse you of things out of paranoia.

Their eating habits may change, they may eat more or less, or in this situation eat more, hide food, keep it in their car or locked in their room. You ask, they don’t have any, a full box of donuts gone no one else had any, almost like they don’t realize there doing it and deny it.

Even if they trust you enough to ask for help, its very important to their self esteem you don’t put them down and let them know you will always be there with them and won’t leave them. But then the next day they can transfer money out of the bank, take your keys, anything to remain in control over there life that they so eagerly want to hold on to.

If you feel well maybe it’s just me, or a phase, but other family members say things like, is so and so ok? Why? He is looking like he’s not here with us at the table, like vacant. Or I saw this person sitting on a stool starring off into space and wasn’t really there. Or finding them doing odd things like falling asleep sitting straight up like they were awake but asleep, or watering the pavement saying they are watering the grass.

It could be numerous things, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, a Traumatic brain injury, stroke, TIA’s, personality disorder, medications, so you must offer support the biggest fear they have is being alone, so you must reassure them you can be trusted and are their for them no matter what, other wise they won’t tell the truth of what’s going on. Brain Atrophy and alcohol and or past alcohol can escalade these symptoms, Smoking pot can also escalate these symptoms specially if used along length of time.

So If you notice anything of these symptoms, Please with out putting someone down, or making them feel bad, Be there, be strong for them even if you cry in another room.

If you notice these changes and happens in a quick amount of time like 6 months, you need to get them into a Neurologist, get a MRI, have cognitive thinking testing, and if it a reputable place they will ask the loved ones what they have noticed because they will not indulge the information to the Dr out of fear of a diagnosis. You have to be the person who steps up and recognizes there is something wrong, you can’t still your head in the sand. The sooner for a diagnosis, sooner for treatment and some Brain issues can be reversed or slowed down. So it’s not a time to take lightly.

If a accurate diagnosis is made its important how you and your loved ones can find out what you can do to help this person to keep them at their best, if they are tired, let them sleep, if they can’t get something done, oh well, learn to make small things just that! But also helping your loved one is the best gift you can give them.

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