Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Neil Turner UKCP MBACP - Individuals & Couples & Supervision
8th February, 20130 Comments
Through working, though mostly grappling with it, I’ve learnt how important and much maligned anxiety is. Within our lived experience it’s a vital part of our emotional landscape yet it wields enormous power that can unexpectedly back us into a corner and provoke helplessness.
Left to it’s own devices it can turn into a domineering intruder turning up at the house of our bodies and the party of our minds at all hours and uninvited. Once in, we put all our energy into avoiding it yet are powerless against it’s malignant presence. Before long we’ve unwittingly given anxiety V.I.P (Very Important Pain) status.
From then on it demands all our attention, rampaging through our lives and following us wherever we go. Sometimes it won’t even let us leave the house, telling us how dangerous the world is and how it would be better to just stay put, hold fast to familiarity and avoid change. Passively, we cocoon ourselves away but anxiety is there like a reckless tenant waking us up at 3 in the morning and dragging us into the future where the worst is yet to happen.
So, what’s the best way to deal with this undesirable visitor?
Some of the insidious rumours that we’ve chosen to believe about anxiety include; It’s bad, it shouldn’t be there, it’s destructive and it’s intention is solely to cause pain.
But what if the complete opposite were true?
What if the purpose of anxiety is to help, protect and keep us safe? What if we knew that the nature of anxiety and fear is, literally, to save our lives? Could it be that we’ve just allowed this guest too much freedom and over-fed it with glutinous dishes rich in guilt, worry, stress and shame? From here we may understand that we haven’t yet learnt how to direct it but only to be directed by it.
Turning to face anxiety, getting into dialogue with it and attempting to understand it is a step in the right direction. Once we cease trying to avoid anxiety it may stop gate-crashing our lives. It might start co-operating, at least by calling first to let us know it’s on its way.
These days it often turns up at my place barring gifts, lessons and insight. It’s become a difficult and challenging teacher but, ultimately, a special guest. A Very Important Pain.
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