So what exactly is anxiety?
So what is happening when we feel anxious? And what can we do about it?
When we feel anxious in the present, we are actually worrying about an event in the future. Anxiety occurs when we are faced with a situation that we think will end badly in some way. Our brains are pattern matching machines. This ability helps us to plan, to pre-empt potential disaster, or mishaps and to feel more certain about the future. But this ability to plan can actually create problems as well as helping us to avoid them.
When our brain pattern matches a situation that is due to happen with one that has happened and turned out badly (in our recollection), it throws out into the future every possible worst case scenario imaginable! That date you’re going on? You fall over. He doesn’t show. You spill food down your front. That work presentation? You trip over your words. Or worse, you trip over as you step up to speak. That job interview… You get the picture.
When we are in a state of anxiety we are projecting into the future a negative outcome (or outcomes) based on some past event(s). As a result, we are no longer present in the moment, we are busy living in a scary imagined future. Anxiety has a very physical quality to it. Certainly if, like me, you have ever experienced a panic attack, you will know that it feels as though you are going to pass out and die!
We’ve all been there at some time or other – the quickening pulse, racing heart, nausea in the pit of the stomach – the symptoms are many and can be quite scary. Anxiety. Who hasn’t experienced it at some point in their life? I used to feel anxious all the time. At its worst, I was having panic attacks every night before bed. It was horrible.
When we are entrenched in these feelings we can feel like we have no control. That we are enslaved to the feeling. But, here’s the thing, we are in control – we just don’t know it at that moment.
So, what can we do about anxiety? Well, if it is becoming a problem, we can learn techniques to calm ourselves and bring us back to the present. That deals with it in the moment. Longer term, we can actually resolve our perceptions of the past events that are throwing out the future disaster and creating the feeling of anxiety in the present.
That’s a lot of ‘pasts’, ‘presents’ and ‘futures’ right? If you are struggling with anxiety and want to chat about how I can help, get in touch here to arrange your free consultation: