Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Helen Swords MA UKCP
20th June, 20160 Comments
These are the longest days of the year, with light in our skies from earliest dawn until late evenings. Light, especially sunlight, is supposed to cheer us up and almost literally lighten our emotional loads. Paradoxically, in Britain we are used to both expected and unexpected showers, even in summer.
Anxiety is linked to the unexpected. It is an inevitable part of life, but for some of us it can feel engulfing and we search for ways to manage it. Anxiety comes with change in our lives, and with many causes including: the breakdown of a marriage or relationship, the threat of job loss, money or debt problems, the strains of parenthood (especially for sole parents) and unbearable exam pressure.
It creates a sickening feeling in our stomachs. Our minds become confused and at times unable to manage even small tasks. Temporary solutions can be to eat too little or too much, or to swallow extra shots of booze. The temptation is to deny there is something wrong and to hope our problems will all go away.
Anxiety has been further defined as: ‘the response to some as yet unrecognised factor, either in the environment or self’. It is also connected to a loss of safety, and of not being able to feel comfortable and ‘at home’ within ourselves.
If there is difficulty concerning our 'self' expressed in our personal lives, then the hope is that we can reach out and ask for help. Professional counselling and therapy can help unearth the as yet unrecognised sources of a client’s anguish, helping him or her to name what it is that is so alarming and to begin a process of addressing the fears, to find a way through the quagmire.
Our wider environment is also creating anxiety as the UK waits to vote to leave or remain within Europe. Our current politics seems to speak about an anxiety regarding the potential for loss of power both within Europe and globally. At times there seems to be disturbingly paranoid anxiety too, with issues relating to who belongs in the UK.
During a recent televised ITV debate the politician Gisela Stuart asked do we want Britain to be ‘a home or a hotel?’ when referring to the numbers of immigrants allowed to enter Britain. There is a lot of uncertainty about the economic future ahead. There are important issues being raised about who is English? Who is British? Who is welcomed and allowed to live and work in Britain? Who is part of the UK home?
The world is changing and we are experiencing an implosion of difference. Children of three years old and upwards navigate the internet and access worlds and people that could not have been imagined just a few decades ago. These changes have implications for economics and social stability. They also invite ethical thoughts about the importance of others who are different to ourselves.
Soon a decision will be made and we will then adjust accordingly. That’s what happens with change. We are in the process of re-defining Britain, re-shaping our home. Politicians, lobbyists, activists, social media and all manner of culture will then help to define the new ‘unrecognised factors’ for the UK to address.
This process mirrors what happens with our private selves. When a client enters counselling or therapy for help with their anxiety, there follows an attempt to try to name and so grapple with the things that worry a client most of all. To shed all important light on those worries, and so find a way through, so that we can feel a bit more ‘at home’ with ourselves.
About the author
Helen is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and specialist counsellor, supervisor and tutor. Licensed by the UK Council for psychotherapy, for over 15 years she has worked in the NHS, schools, for commercial business, the voluntary sector and in private practice. Previous careers in broadcasting, arts journalism and teaching.
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