Anxiety is the thief of now. It steels from you joy and replaces it with perceived ‘bad’ futures. It convinces you that worry IS the way to solve or avoid the bad futures. It lies, for it feeds off of the worry. It renders you inactive. It gives you the belief that you are in control. A defence against vulnerability and the unknown.
Doing something different tells anxiety who is in charge!
You may or may not remember when you became a worrier, an anxiety sufferer or, as they used to call it, a nervous wreck. Whatever term is used has no relevance here. You may have seen from my social media posts that I am not all that keen on labels and diagnosis, favouring over these, seeing a person as a person, not an illness or diagnosis. If you just think about it for a moment, if you struggle with something psychologically, how much is absorbed by those feelings, just how much has it come to define you? Perhaps it feels it is so much a part or you there is little else left?
Holding that in mind, we may start to see a huge difficulty here. If you are consumed with your struggles (and they really can be consuming), there has come the point in your world where, perhaps, you stopped being the free, curious, joyful, adventurous child you may once have been (or at least had the potential to be). At some point those parts of you seem to be displaced and overtaken by the anxiety or depression you experience now. So powerful it is, that it is now, perhaps, more of you than was before it? It begs the question why?
So powerful it has become, so much a part of you, that it has become a reliable way to exist! What I mean by that is your anxiety has convinced you it is your friend. That without it, ‘bad’ things will happen to you. You will get into all sorts of difficulties, and here is its most powerful message that you more than likely now believe as fact...’*without me you will not cope!’*
How frightening. Perhaps terrifying. How powerful. How, in your fears and worries, could you NOT believe such a message? After all, you do not feel positive, you find life difficult to cope with, you do not feel ‘together’ and you do not feel in control. You feel frightened. So perhaps its right? Oh it so wants you to believe this, so much so that I cannot use powerful enough words here to impress this point enough!
We can think of the anxiety as a beast that MUST be fed. It only wants one food and that food is like it’s superfood. Yes, you may have your super greens, pulses and Kale in a smoothy but that is poor nutrution compared to what anxiety considers a superfood. The one and only superfood that anxiety craves is your fear. Yep. Get your head around that. You are frightened that bad things will happen and you will not cope. This fear feeds the parts of you that worry. The worry grows and, as it does, it leaves you feeling less able to cope. So you fear more. In fact, often, your fears will become irrational fears. Not because they are not real, but because they are based on a feeling/thought cycle which is more often than not, a vastly dramatised version of reality designed to keep the anxiety fed!
It will convince you that you are not good enough, that you will not cope, that everyone else can cope so there is something wrong with you, that you are not liked, that you have little or no value, that you are the wrong shape, not clever enough...this list is endless and, more importantly, is personal to you! It is designed to be as self deprecating as it can. It needs to floor you! It also is designed so that you believe these are not your critical thoughts, they are everyone else’s!
Can you see the wonder of this system. Firstly it keeps you in the fear cycle. Secondly your unconscious does something which is really amazing. In your thoughts and feelings of utter worthlessness and powerlessness, it convinces you that everyone is thinking about you, albeit negatively, but when you feel like a nothing, on some level you become a something. Now you cannot pop to the shop because the shopkeeper is thinking about you?
This is an unconscious way to be ‘held in mind’ by others. Often this is rooted in childhood experiences (perhaps trauma) where we were left alone (either literally or in our belief) to psychologically deal with things we could not readily solve or, perhaps, deal with alone. We then felt alone, frightened and unable to cope...sound familiar?
More often than not, anxiety is rooted in early experiences in which you felt all the feelings that anxiety arouses in you now; helplessness, fear, vulnerability , anger, frustration , incapacity, to name but a few. In the midst of that earlier experience(s), you felt and perhaps were stuck and helpless. When your anxiety strikes you now, perhaps the same happens. You feel stuck and frozen.
Psychodynamic counselling helps you gently explore how the difficulties you are experiencing now and how they may have their roots in earlier development. In understanding those experiences as the ‘you’ then, it can explore how the ‘you’ now is perhaps different. Perhaps more able than you think. That you are able to change your responses to those difficult emotions that were so difficult in past experiences.