How to move from anxiety to trust
“Find a place where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell from A Joseph Campbell Companion. Reflections on the Art of Living.
Acknowledging the experience of anxiety
Let's stop for a moment and be truthful - we need to acknowledge our anxiety and stop hiding it to not look 'crazy'. For some of us anxiety can be crippling and overwhelming. A few years ago, a 10 year-old girl explained to me how when she was writing an assignment she wrote one word and then erased it and kept erasing every word until the whole page was a mess. She just wanted it to be perfect. We sometimes do that with our lives; keep thinking of possibilities, keep fearing their consequences and staying stuck in this process while creating a mess.
Our anxiety is with us for a good reason
Let's face it, our anxiety is with us for a good reason. Sometimes 'it' thinks 'it' can protect us from future hurt, other times 'it' thinks 'it' can keep us alive. There are also some times of great significance when 'it' wants to show us that we are on a path that is not what we really want to be doing.
Your behaviour is a natural response to your past experience
Let's admit it, there are various complex reasons for being anxious. They vary from situational to chronic. A difficult situation that we are experiencing may cause intense anxiety and after enough time passes the anxiety will probably subside. However, when anxiety is chronic or caused by traumatic experiences that induce shock to our organism, it is a different case. Our behaviour is our natural response to our past experiences. When we are chronically anxious it may be that we grew up in an environment that was overprotective, and advised us to be careful about almost everything. Or it may be the case that we were neglected, physically abused or emotionally abused and experienced this world as a 'scary place'.
When anxiety has destructive effects
Anxiety is sometimes useful when we can employ it as a fuel or notice it and get guided to a better place in our lives. However, anxiety can also make our lives difficult and 'it' can be destructive for our careers, creativity, development of close relationships, social interactions, overall health and well-being.
Behaviour that stems from trying to escape anxiety can be destructive too. Some behaviours that we may employ to dissociate from our overwhelming anxiety are overeating, binge eating, chain smoking, binge drinking, excessive exercising, drug addictions, gambling and sex addictions. Chronic overwhelming anxiety may also lead to depression.
How to move from anxiety to trust
There is a way to move from anxiety to trust. Trust is key to overcoming anxiety. Embarking on a therapeutic journey with a therapist that you can connect with is crucial. In therapy you can uncover the roots of your mistrust on yourself and/or the world. Then you can re-learn how to connect with what is important for you, your inner truths and desires. Your therapist can assist you as a fellow explorer and as a guide.
Expressing your feelings and thoughts in a confidential therapeutic space can be a powerful release that can open you up to reconnect with yourself and others.
Learning breathing techniques, mindfulness and other therapeutic meditations can be of great help in order to learn how to redirect your attention towards where you want, and through that alleviate your anxiety.
Discussing your difficult emotions or/and situations in a safe and understanding space can also facilitate your capacity to deal with difficult situations and find solutions that you could not see possible before.
Your therapist can help you unlock your truths and your desires through validation and exploration. This may also make the overwhelming anxiety subside significantly.
Your therapist can act as an encourager and supporter that can help you build up new ways of focusing more on hope, trust and belief in yourself rather than over-criticism, distrust, doubt, and overwhelming anxiety.
And if anxiety comes up again, as it will, because it is part of our human nature, you will learn how to use it in order to fuel what you are doing instead of letting it keep you stuck and paralysed. Trust will be there for you to choose over anxiety.
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