I used to feel anxious pretty much all the time, and then I had a spell of it becoming so severe it was frightening and disabling. That was some time ago and now I live almost entirely free of anxiety which I still find incredible considering how badly I suffered with it. Anxiety is a horrible feeling and ironically feels frightening and impossible to escape.
Anxiety is a fearful feeling that is an essential part of the natural mechanism we have to deal with threats and impending danger; in this respect it’s working as an early warning system, something is about to be a little or a lot scary, like speaking in public, taking an exam, going for a job interview. Once the threat passes the fear/anxiety subsides. This is completely normal even though we don’t like how it feels it is playing a part in preparing us for and enabling us to handle the stressful situation or event.
Like our animal kin we have a mechanism built into us to alert us to and protect us from threats and dangers in our environment. The stress mechanism is formed when we’re young and can be damaged by trauma, adverse experiences, and the relationship with our primary caregiver. This can affect how we handle stress and how we manage our emotions as we grow up and indeed right through life. If it is damaged it can leave us vulnerable to stress and less able to regulate our emotions.
Modern life is so complex, and we now have more perceived threats than tangible ones and these place a huge demand on our stress capacity and a small thing can tip us into burnout, breakdown. Being chronically in the stress state is seriously bad for our health and well being.
Early Life Shapes Us
Adverse experiences and trauma when we are young get etched into our psyche. Likewise traumatic events later in life disrupt the stress mechanism, are internalised, and can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We attach meaning to all these events and they are laid down in the story of our life, the unconscious narrative that we bring to life. It also leaves an emotional imprint that gets buried in our innermost self.
As we go through life, everyday thoughts, situations, and other people trigger the unconscious memory of earlier events, as they carry an echo of the story that we wrote.
So if the anxiety isn’t in response to a passing situation, if it seems to arise from within for no reason, it is likely to be the manifestation of deep-seated issues, hurts, wounds, traumas – like a part of you is crying out to get your attention, to understand why it is there, what the hurt is so to heal it.
The Thought Monster
Thoughts have the power to literally shape how we feel each moment. Broadly we can divide them into external thoughts – a response to situations, other people etc and internal thoughts – the person in our head that chatters away to us about how we’re living our life, the narrator of the Story of Our Life. That person is the sum of all the aspects of our self that are not whole, that we’re not at peace with and the constant narrator and interpreter of the story we wrote. They are ever present keeping us tied to that narrative whether we like it or not.
The feeling that our heads are simply full to bursting feels stressful and it seems that modern life puts more and more strain on our capacity to hold everything in our heads.
Thoughts, situations or other people’s behaviour acts like a flashback to the story we wrote at an earlier time about our lives and we unconsciously interpret current events through this lens and react from a place of pre-determined thought and behaviour. It’s like a vicious circle – we can be aware of it and at the same time feel completely powerless to get out of it.
Panic attacks are an extreme form of anxiety which can result from a highly fearful or overstimulating situation or from our thoughts about a situation. Once the situation has passed or we have got our thoughts under control the panic attack passes. If they are coming out of the blue and happening frequently, this is most likely a case of the inner you coming to the surface and an indicator of deeper issues.Rather than having to use techniques to try to keep anxiety at bay, we can use the knowledge that it can result from a disrupted stress mechanism and can be a manifestation of deep-seated hurts, wounds or traumas to get to the root cause of it and eliminate it – that’s what I did. Apart from being free of chronic anxiety, I also now am very good at regulating my emotions, something that used to be very difficult for me.
- The stress mechanism is formed when we are very young and effected by our early relationships
- Trauma and adverse experiences leave a negative imprint in our psyche.
- We write our story early on in life and keep adding to it
- Thoughts, situations people are constantly in touch with this story which triggers anxiety
- This sets of the pattern of incoherence that takes over us
- Anxiety is a natural reaction to a fearful or challenging situation.
- When it is overwhelming it could be an expression of deep-seated problems we have internalised. It can have its origin in a fearful narrative.
- The amazing thing is that we can re-write this and free ourselves of anxiety for good.
As a footnote I want to say that I think that anxiety can be a part of menopause because I have been experiencing some mild and unexplained anxiety in recent years. It is very different from the extreme and chronic anxiety I used to have which was coming from the deep psychological imbalance which I healed myself of.