As a society, we have made anxiety a noun or a ‘thing’ that we now all have in various doses. It has become an identity, a marker of how we function in the world, and something we just have to live with. I think it’s crucial to look under the hood at the elements of this ‘noun’ we have become accustom to owning. Once we identify the elements underneath the word ‘anxiety’, we can address the heart of the matter and create alchemy within ourselves. The identification creates an unnecessary and rigidified structure.
I invite you to ‘disown’ anxiety as a noun or an identity, and own the actual body sensations, feelings and thoughts that are forming this illusive named thing.
4 Ways to De-mystify Anxiety:
A volcano is a metaphor for how unexpressed feelings can build up and form into pressure that we associate with anxiety.”valtate.com
1) A Volcano: a build up of feelings that are unexpressed or repressed. Feelings are like waves in the ocean. They come and go, but if we don’t express them, they become like rocks in our body and weigh us down. Time puts pressure on these rocks and come out all at once or in ways we might not want.
When you feel ‘anxious,’ ask yourself what you are feeling and identify a few core feelings like sad, mad, afraid, embarrassed, etc. Separate out your thoughts from your feelings. For example your thought might be: I am not smart enough, while the feeling might be helplessness.
Write down the thoughts and the feelings as if they are in the volcano.
You might choose to express those feelings to the person, your therapist, a friend or just to yourself. All are perfect ways to alchemize the energy.
Alignment happens when we honor the yes or no we received and take action on it. Not trusting leads to a feeling of anxiety.”valtate.com
2) Lack of alignment: Inner guidance that told you to take action on something, yet you didn’t listen. This creates a buildup of frustration with the self (it can be subconscious frustration) and this creates a feeling of something being wrong, because it is!
Identify what you are not in alignment with between your internal self and your actions. Awareness is power. Once you realize something, it’s not as easy to get away with not listening.
Consider taking action on the inner guidance you are receiving.
Practice the idea of flipping the ‘fear of the unknown’ into ‘engaging in the mystery of life.”valtate.com
3) Fear of the unknown – you are afraid of certain life outcomes you can’t control.
Practice the idea of flipping the ‘fear of the unknown’ into ‘engaging in the mystery of life.’ Life can be more like a treasure hunt, where we are excited to see what will happen next if we listen to the clues unfolding in front of us. Fear of the unknown keeps us on our heals in a passive state of being. Mystery is engaging, while fear keeps us stuck.
Trauma memories can come up as body sensations. Place your hand on the sensation and inquire in a self-loving way.”valtate.com
4) Trauma memory – sometimes we feel anxiety as sensations in the body including a tight chest, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, a panic attack or a heavy sense of dread or even a panic attack. This is our bodies talking to us and trying to share about a memory from the past that was scary, threatening or shocking.
Talk to your therapist, a friend or yourself and put your hand on the part of your body that feels the discomfort. Ask your body part, if you could talk what would you say. Allow your body to tell you the stories of what they have experienced in the past or what they are afraid of now. Just like expression of feelings, stories need to be shared. We all want to be witnessed. Witnessing one’s own experience or being witnessed helps to alchemize it and helps the nervous system to return to a place of calm.
Sharing our stories is transformative. Check out this new game from Esther Perel: Where should we begin game.
Anxiety is not a noun, but rather a way to explain the experience of repressed or unexpressed feelings and thoughts, lack of alignment between intuition and action, fear of the unknown and trauma memories expressed as body sensations or memories. By attending to the sublayers of anxiety, we are more apt to alchemize and return to a more calm and relaxed state of being…our birthright.
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