Anxiety - switching the negative focus
When in an anxious state, if we concentrate on it negatively in a bid to try and stop it, this is often counterproductive (when has telling someone to calm down ever worked!) Anxiety is a feeling we need to acknowledge it rather than fight against it.
We can't simply tell our brain to not feel something it's experiencing, we have to teach it to recognise the feeling for what it is, just a feeling, and this recognition means embodying an acceptance of it too.
Anxiety in itself isn't dangerous, but our actions or feelings around trying to suppress it could be. We cannot conquer anxiety with aggressive attempts at repression or oppression, we must calm it with kindness, reassurance and understanding.
This non-aggressive approach doesn't mean we are allowing our anxiety to win. In fact let's not think of it in terms of winning or losing. Anxiety isn't trying to sabotage us, it is trying to protect us.
If we move towards the anxiety with kindness and compassion we can begin to help it calm and become less reactive. If we starve the anxiety of our negativity we starve the panic of its fuel. Treating anxiety in this way can help interrupt the anxiety cycle.
This is not a quick fix however. Our thoughts and patterns of behaviour have become intrenched and hardwired over time but they may have lost their relevance. Thoughts become outdated patterns, instructions that no longer fit our reality. So let's be sympathetic to our old coping mechanisms but in doing so let's also be aware of the here and now and allow ourselves to protect ourselves with our whole brain and not just with crippling fear.
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About Tania Freeman
Tania Freeman MBACP
child counselling diploma and certificate in the therapeutic arts.
Specialise in creative art therapy working with children.
Working freelance in schools and private practice.