About 15 years ago I wrote a dissertation for my CBT masters course investigating the efficacy of the integrative psychotherapies in the treatment of anxiety.
It feels like a long time ago and there’s been many changes in the world since. Yet, what I see unchanged is how anxiety affects people.
So, I’ve been asking myself in time what is actually happening with us people? Are we dependent on the benefits of anxiety?
What seems to come up all the time from my reflection is that what we call anxiety is not an illness as such but a sense of fear we all experience to a degree or another in life.
So the question is now, why some people experience less fear and other much more? Why some people can move through stages of temporary fear whilst others get stuck in them? Is it an illness or a personal choice, a learned behaviour?
What comes accross more clear is that genetics has little to do with anxiety. We are not born with fear, we learn to be anxious. Think of a child that is pure and naive and unspoiled. The child does not fear. It is us adults feeling fearful and instilling that in children.
Now, a certain level of fear is not bad at all, it is necessary. Fear is what helps us survive and thrive because it helps us concentrate, stay alert, pay attention to the outer world and it protects us from illness, accidents and injuries.
However, this is only one facet of fear. High levels of fear can make our life experience negative and debilitating.
So the most important question is why some people remain blocked in that anxious way of thinking and behaving in life? Strangely enough we can become familiar and even comfortable with anxiety. Some of us get dependant of the benefits of anxiety, what we get from others, how other respond to us when we feel vulnerable.
You can get rid of your anxiety
The more I work with people the more convinced I am that anxiety is a learned response to life. Yes, threats exist, we cannot control everything, but in fact all that we can control lays within ourselves.
We can control what we think, how we behave, how we experience life inside and there’s no doubt that anxiety is very toxic. Anxiety releases in our bodies very poisonous chemicals that impact severely our health.
The new science of epigenetics tells us a lot about the impact of our inner and outer environment on the neurologic, endocrine and immune systems and they are clear that living in fear is linked with many physical and mental conditions.
So if you suffer of the so called “anxiety” I’d like you to explore what is it underneath your feelings. Have you allowed your inner fears to take residence into your mind? Because if you did, unless you will kick them out, they are there to stay. Like squatters.
So rather than thinking you have an illness called “anxiety”, I would like to challenge you to imagine that this fear is making you feel unsettling, but that you have full control over it if you wish to.
It is important to get support because living in fear will make your inner life very toxic and will deprive you from the beauty, love and kindness surrounding you every second of your life.
If you are really decided to change your life and strip yourself from the unhealthy ways of living until now, the good news is that you can absolutely do it and only by making that decision to change you have sorted half of the problem already.
Just make a plan and get the right support. Start with a short session of introspection and go within yourself to find out how you learned to function that way, what benefits it has served you, and what do you need to let go off to create that amazing life you deserve.
Do not give up. You only get this shot at life. Stop following medical news, reading self-help books and indulging in anxiolytic medication. Take back the control over your life. You can do this. I’ve seen many people doing it. You can do it, too.