Anxiety is always in the post
Anxiety (if not here right now) always feels as if it’s coming in the post! Learning skills to deal with it addresses the wait.
Anxiety locks us out of our life and inside our own body. It keeps us in solitary confinement shackled to other’s judgements and opinions. Unattended, the mind becomes its playground, the heart its torture chamber. It can leave us in a thick fog questioning our self-worth and our sanity. As a clinical psychotherapist I witness simple skills effectively tackling this complex issue - skills that teach us the importance of psychological flexibility and that avoid the futility of struggling.
There are times when it feels as if we have a "struggle switch" at the back of our heads. As soon as uncomfortable emotions or painful memories show up the struggle switch flicks on. Now we’ve got anxiety about our anxiety, or anger at ourselves, or guilt about our pathetic situation. With the "struggle switch" on, our emotions get amplified and can bog us down in self-defeating behaviours.
But what if we could can turn off the struggle switch?
What if we could decide instead to involve ourselves in meaningful, life-enhancing activities like spending quality time with friends, playing happy music, walking, mowing the grass, or even helping some other soul out? These are activities that could in themselves lead in the direction of a rich and fulfilling life.
With the struggle switch off, anxiety is free to move. It isn’t hanging around or amplified or resurrecting hurt.
There’s no such thing as a life without anxiety - anxiety shows up for all of us. But, when the struggle switch is off, it's easier to live with. Learning a skill which gets us out of this endless cycle and into our life is critical for mental and physical fitness.
"ABC" offers us the choice of turning the struggle switch off:
A = Anchoring ourselves when lost in fog is wise. It won’t make the fog go away, but it gives us safe harbour.
B = Breathing deeply gets oxygen to the brain when we are most in need of it.
C = Connecting…i.e. naming three things in our line of vision. This brings us back from some future or past place, relocating us in the present - the only place we have power.
Skills like ABC (practised and perfected) work complex magic, leaving individuals who have struggled with anxieties now looking assured, surprised, and relieved.
Skills can’t change life...but they can change the way we handle it.
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