Many kinds of love and rescue factors in anxiety: 1. philia
“We live in a fast-paced world”. That is how I had begun an article on trait anxiety, written some years ago and published here on Counselling Directory. Revisiting such a statement in today’s context after reviewed practice for the last couple of years – I would reformulate that opening statement as: “We live in a fast-paced world, still” - meaning both technology and lived experiences.
When describing the unbearable lightness of different types of anxiety in previous writings, there was an insufficient reference to what it means to live in such fast-paced times and how to relate it to our relationships with significant others: our family, our colleagues, our communities and our world at large. Previous articles on anxiety were more or less restricted to an emphasis on the relationship to self and self-development within such named contexts.
And that is the reason why this article and a few others to follow on the same topic, would suggest that particular attention could be given to how different kinds of love can and do shape our understanding of anxiety in a fast-lived environment. To start with, this article is asking the reader to consider the most important relationships in their life and then to decide whether or not anxiety affects how they relate to others.
What is philia?
The next consideration is to decide how a state of anxiety can impact our relationships with others. It would be helpful to single out specific types of love. For example, the Greeks name 'philia'; a type of love simply translated as 'friendship'. Philia is one of six such identified types and this is the type of love chosen for discussion in this article. Friendship, anxiety and a fast-paced environment are brought together as an acknowledgement of the times we live in, with the importance of love and relationships being central to our health and wellbeing.
Philia or friendship is a significant aspect of who we are at certain points in time - and at all times. Philia can be described in a variety of forms, such as the love and affection within a family unit between a parent and a child, or a deep closeness between siblings or cousins – a bond of blood, love and affection. Another subgroup of philia is the closeness between people in relationships of mutual interests, such as collegial relationships, partnerships of different nature (financial, political) or allies in common goals. Perhaps one of the easiest to recognise subtype of philia is that shared between people who have fought side by side – a type of camaraderie developed when people risk their lives together, where they consider themselves equal, share their sorrow and joy, and help each other in times of hardship. One subtype of friendship is developed in transitional times and during different stages in our lives, from childhood through adulthood. People form connections and friendships that are based on mutual respect, loyalty, understanding and collective life experiences.
Yet another type of philia is identifiable in close friendships where we can share our worries with others with whom we have common interests. These could be friendships developed through the same professional or social network, or friendships fostered at specific stages in our lives, such as in university, in PTA groups when your child starts school, through memberships to different clubs etc.
In today’s world where technology has advanced to the point of creating an automatisation over our calendars, our schedules, our calories; where we take its help in counting bad days and good days, sorting our schedule, rerouting our trips; and when it can take us so little time to befriend someone on social media apps and create large lists of acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, Snap etc, our sense of connectedness with self may be further enhanced and enabled. At the same time, one may question how much time we get to reflect on meaningful relationships and the philia we have in our lives.
This article is not suggesting that such accomplishments are not to be celebrated, rather it questions whether or not such connections are sufficient in themselves? Creating a strong network at both social and professional levels is essential in today’s fast-paced life. However, in terms of what an anxiety state would refer to as rescue factors, it is not necessarily sufficient. How much philial love do you have in your life? When was the last time you were emotionally open with close friends; when you were able to share your worries and celebrate your successes with them? These are all important questions that a fast-paced life, at times, may leave behind.
Philia and anxiety
A state of anxiety, in general terms, is heightened by a belief that our capacity to cope is diminished or insufficient to respond to life’s demands;- an overestimation of risk in our life at specific points in time or all the time with such a belief neglecting or underestimating our capacity to cope and ignoring rescue factors that can be involved in enhancing such capacity. Such rescue factors include our support network, our friendships and our relatedness to the world in general– it represents our external resources or reservoir, so to say.
Therefore, when feeling anxious about your future or uncertain for a way forward, one must bring self-awareness to mind and ask certain questions. When checking your schedule for the week ahead, or month ahead ask yourself: are there any appointments or meetings that could be considered as philia? Are there any future events that stem from such a connection with someone? Certainly, there are; and if not, perhaps this article could be just a gentle reminder to include such meetings in your schedule.
The timing of this article is deliberate. The whole world has experienced a halt in socialising physically and spend quality time with loved ones in close proximity, however, philia friendships have a real chance to withstand such times, fast-paced or otherwise. I hope that after reading this article your next week’s schedule would, if necessary, be amended to reflect not only a work plan but also friendship/s in your lives.
If you are experiencing anxiety and think it might be negatively impacting the relationships in your life then do consider speaking to a therapist. Counselling Directory provides a database of qualified counsellors offering talking therapy services face-to-face, online or over the phone.
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