Unwinding the knot of anxiety: My journey to freedom

Anxiety. It's a word that seems to echo through the halls of our modern lives. From deadlines and social anxieties to the general unease of an uncertain world, it's a feeling most of us know far too well. Today, I want to share a very personal story – a story of wrestling with anxiety for much of my life, and ultimately, the path I found to true freedom.

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My journey with anxiety began in the formative years of childhood. Adverse experiences, a truth I've come to acknowledge with compassion, left their mark. The constant undercurrent of worry, the feeling of being on edge and negative self-talk became constant companions. As I grew older, these anxieties morphed and intensified, manifesting in social situations, academic pressures, and a general feeling of unease about the future.

Looking back, it's clear these anxieties were not just random occurrences. As Dr Joe Dispenza says, "Where attention goes, energy flows." My focus was on the negative, the 'what ifs' and 'maybes,' fuelling the very fire of anxiety I desperately wanted to extinguish.

This dis-ease, this disconnection from a sense of peace, eventually led me down a path of addiction. Alcohol and drugs became my misguided attempts to numb the pain and quiet the constant chatter of worry. However, this path ultimately brought me to my knees. It forced me to confront a truth I'd been running from for far too long – the root of my anxiety lay deeper, in the unhealed wounds of my past.

It felt like a breakdown at the time, but on reflection, it was a breakthrough.

This was the turning point. Desperate for a solution, I found myself drawn to a 12-step recovery program. It wasn't just about addressing addiction; it was a profound journey of self-discovery. Through the program's spiritual principles, I began to understand the connection between my past traumas, my anxieties, and my addictive behaviours.

One of the most life-changing aspects of the program was experiencing person-centred therapy from a sponsor/qualified counsellor. For the first time, I felt truly heard without judgement. It was a safe space where I didn't need to have any 'filters' engaged. This experience opened my eyes to the power of therapy and the profound impact of having a supportive guide on your journey.

The program introduced me to the wisdom of various spiritual teachers. As Ramana Maharshi reminds us, “Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside”. Learning Transcendental Meditation offered the first 'break' in the thought stream and reduced the 'noise' of constant negative thoughts in my mind, allowing space and a deeper sense of being. Slowly, I began to see the world, and myself, through a new lens.

One of the most powerful shifts came from the concept of "letting go." As Alan Watts said, "The wake of a boat is what is left as it travels forward; the wake does not propel the boat." Meditation helped me observe my thoughts like ripples on a lake, not the water itself. I realised I couldn't change the past, but I could choose how I responded to it. I could let go of the stories I'd been telling myself about my limitations and embrace the power of the present moment.

This wasn't a quick fix. It was and continues to be, a journey of self-compassion and learning. There are still days when anxieties try to take hold. But now, I have the tools to manage them. Mindfulness allows me to observe my thoughts and emotions without judgment. Meditation helps me cultivate inner peace. Most importantly, I've reconnected with a sense of my own spiritual strength.

This profound experience of healing ignited a passion within me to help others on their own journeys. Witnessing the transformative power of therapy first-hand, I knew I wanted to be a part of that process. Following the completion of the recovery program, I enrolled in a counselling training course, eventually becoming a qualified NCPS-accredited therapeutic counsellor. The experience wasn't just about acquiring knowledge; it was about deepening my own self-understanding and developing the skills to create a safe and supportive space for others to explore their vulnerabilities and anxieties.

This is the message of hope I want to share with anyone struggling with anxiety. You are not alone. There is a path to freedom, a path to inner peace. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely possible. 

If you're ready to take that first step, consider seeking professional support. A therapist can provide a safe space to explore the roots of your anxiety and guide you on your own journey of healing. There are many different therapeutic approaches available, and finding the right fit for you is crucial.

You are not your thoughts. You are a being of immense potential, and beneath the layers of worry lies a wellspring of peace and joy. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to live a life free from the grip of anxiety.

If you are interested in learning more about anxiety. Meditation, or exploring the possibility of therapy, please don't hesitate to contact me.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol BS6 & Cheltenham GL50
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Written by James Saunders, MNCPS Acc. | Dip. BSoM | Dip. Couns
Bristol BS6 & Cheltenham GL50

Ex-high-pressure careerist turned counsellor, James helps individuals facing anxiety, addiction, relationship struggles and emotional challenges. Blending therapy with mindfulness, he offers a warm, relatable approach. Discover his unique journey & how he can help you: https://jamessaunderscounselling.com

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