Can we really get rid of anxiety?
There is a lot written about anxiety in the hope to give comfort to all the people who suffer from it. Ultimately it would be amazing if anybody had a final answer, a method, a technique, a ritual, a pill or whatever it is that, if you do it, you do not feel anxious.
But perhaps what we really want to get rid of is the suffering associated with long lasting, inexplicable and out of control anxiety. Like other emotions, anxiety provides a reservoir of energy to be used to, ultimately, survive. What does this mean? Let me give an example; imagine fear... What it does is prepare the whole body to fight or to go away. The moment I feel fear, my muscles are tense and I'm hyper vigilant. My whole being is in fear.
What about anxiety?
It is usually difficult to pinpoint what anxiety is about, and this is exactly the point. Anxiety is a state of apprehension about something important that we think is likely to happen. It's like having to sit an important exam. The night before the exam is full of anxiety, but, when you are sitting the actual exam, anxiety disappears. What happened to it? Anxiety could be seen as ‘raw vital energy’ that prepares us to face an uncertain future. This energy has the potential to become joy, excitement, fear, stress and more.
So there seems to be three elements that make anxiety blossom:
1) Something that we care about and we want to protect (especially coming from bad past experiences).
2) Something with important future consequences (perhaps life changing like an interview, an exam, a date with someone you love).
3) Something where outcome is uncertain and we don't know what will happen (will he/she accept my request? Will he/she cheat on me? etc.).
This ‘something’ is in the future and when when this something becomes present, anxiety becomes something else.
So, in conclusion, getting rid of anxiety means understanding where this anxiety is coming from and questioning whether these things that are so important to trigger anxiety really are that important; which is where counselling can make a long-lasting difference. Putting things in perspective and understanding how our own anxiety works through counselling can help getting back some control over anxiety. Ultimately getting rid of all anxiety symptoms is a long journey that can be achieved by working on all that causes the anxiety.
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About Alessio Rizzo
Alessio is a BACP Counsellor working in Central London who studied psychotherapy at masters level during a journey of self-discovery and healing that has now lasted for more than 15 years. Alessio integrates elements of humanistic and CBT therapies to support individuals and groups. He runs with passion a weekly group to support Asylum Seekers.