what is anxiety, where does it come from and what is its purpose?
How can anxiety be the cause of so much physical, psychological and emotional pain and still be a good thing?
Points to note:
anxiety is spoken about as if it was a thing, a noun, something I own or have, or even something that is ‘wrong’ with me.
anxiety is not a noun, it is a description of something I might be experiencing and the combination of sensations are referred to as anxiety. To say I have anxiety is to say I have a number of sensations happening in my physical body, in my mind and in my heart when combined feel like something people refer to as anxiety.
so anxiety, as it is described here, is the result or effect of something happening in my whole self.
looking a little more closely at this sensation happening in my body I can recognise changes taking place. This includes a combination of chemical, electromagnetic and general physiological changes I can observe in my body. In addition, I might notice different thoughts and even a different way I process these thoughts.
taking a look at the possible origins of anxiety, in other words where it comes from, we can trace it back to underlying beliefs we hold about yourselves living in this world. What I believe about me as an individual living in this world will influence my thoughts about me which then influences how I feel – my emotional response. So the chain of pain goes something like, beliefs I hold cause thoughts I have to cause an emotional response which causes changes in the makeup of my physical body. This final description of the combination of effects is termed anxiety.
the next question about the purpose of anxiety is the game changer for me. Consider for a moment the many thoughts I have which allow me to feel awesome, happy, excited and generally “good”. These thoughts must logically come from beliefs which support who I am in this world. For example, if I am holding core beliefs which say I am lovable, and I then have a thought which supports this belief, the resulting feeling will be nice. The next question of course is, “what caused me to have that thought I am loveable in the first place?”. Well, generally it is something I observe in my everyday life. It is something I hear, something I see, in other words, something I perceive in my world which, in my mind suggests I am lovable. The keyword here is “perceive”.
let us look at this again. When I perceive something in my life (whether it is true or not, imagined or not), it is filtered through my belief system which then causes me to think in a certain way, which in turn causes me to feel something and the entire cycle starts again. The added problem here is, now I am feeling this discomfort my brain will want to protect me from it and so the self-protection response becomes even greater. This cycle repeats over and over until it can become so big in the effect, it can cause me to panic or even shut down.
so the purpose of anxiety along with many other emotional responses is to tell me I am believing and thinking something that either supports my magnificence in this world or I am thinking something that denies my magnificence.
what to do about it
first of all, let me say something about what “not” to do about anxiety or any other uncomfortable emotional state. Do not ignore it, push it aside or into a box. Do not numb it with drugs, alcohol, work, sex, exercise or any other prefered medication of choice. Do not keep thinking the same thing over and over because it will only get bigger. Do not go into blame and shame of someone else or something else for your pain, this only shifts the cause to an outside source and this isn’t where it sits. finally, do not blame or shame yourself, or abuse/berate yourself for causing this effect. You are not broken, crazy, or less than. In fact, you are functioning perfectly. It is a natural process and should be a welcome one.
The first thing to do is to acknowledge the feeling by giving it a thumbs up. Something like, “Hey painful crappy feeling, thanks for coming. Not sure why you are here but I expect it is a good reason and something I can benefit from.”
remember, if you resist this feeling that is ok, but be ready for it to grow in strength and consistency until you acknowledge it and look at it. What you resist will persist and what you look at will dissolve.
acknowledge the feeling and then you can focus in on where this feeling is in your body. Notice the one place in your body more than any other place where the feeling is most impactful. Now talk to this feeling saying something like, “Thanks for coming, it is now time to go! I want to accept the gift, the insight you have for me, and I want you to soften and flow out of my body. Soften and flow!”
now observe without judgement or analysis. Watch the feeling in your body as it changes in intensity and will probably begin to move in your body or slowly dissolve. Most important, observe without judgement. Keep repeating, “Soften and flow, soften and flow.” Do this until the feeling has dissolved your body altogether.