Anxiety is a Symptom: NOT the Problem

I see many clients who are experiencing anxiety and they want it to stop. Many of them come to my therapy office due to physical symptoms such as panic attacks, high blood pressure, or a feeling of being on edge. Some of my clients have put restrictions on their lives in an attempt to avoid anxiety. Some of them have been told by their physicians that taking medication may help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Most of my clients would rather avoid taking medications due to side effects, the expense, or due to the fact that they want to conquer the anxiety themselves. I see anxiety as a symptom of something rather than it being the problem itself. In other words, anxiety is our body’s way of telling us that something within us needs to be addressed.

I think of anxiety as a red flag that the body is waving to say, “Stop and listen to me!” What most people do when their body starts waving that flag is to run away from it. Isn’t anxiety the reason that so many of us work too much, smoke, drink, overeat, or pleasure-seek in other ways? If we fear feeling something we don’t want to feel, that can lead to wanting to alter our mood. And why would we want to feel? There are so many things on this earth that cause us not to want to feel whatever we’re feeling at that moment. All you have to do is turn on the news for a minute and you’ll be struck by the suffering that exists in the world. All you have to do is examine your relationships to find one that you would rather ignore because there is so much unexpressed and difficult emotion associated with it. All you have to do is let yourself hear the critical voices that get loud in your head when you imagine standing naked in front of the mirror. There are many things that leave us feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed, and pained in this life.

Despite how you may be feeling at this moment, I am not writing this to cause anyone a feeling of doom and gloom. Instead I want hope to be found within these difficulties. If you let yourself feel the pain and darkness of buried and ignored issues, you can start to find the path that leads to the light. I help my clients identify the true root cause of their anxiety so the actual issue becomes conscious and surfaces for us to examine. I help my clients learn to sit with their discomfort and find their true path. I use a combination of hypnosis, shamanic journeying, meditation, and talk therapy with my clients to help them learn to listen to the sensations, feelings, and messages in their bodies. I help my clients learn to interpret those messages as a guide rather than as something they want to escape. And the amazing thing to me is that the better someone becomes at listening to their body, the more gently their body is able to talk to them. In other words, if someone is running away from the message their body is trying to send them their body will have to yell to get their attention. This may mean their body speaks in panic attacks or causes their body not to function in some aspect of their life. On the other hand, if someone is truly listening to their body then a whisper is all that is needed to be heard.

I recently received a call from a potential client who told me how anxiety was affecting her life. She was having such bad anxiety that she couldn’t go to work and she hadn’t eaten in several days. When I told her that I work with hypnosis in order to help my clients learn to listen to the message that their anxiety is trying to send them, she said “That sounds scary.” I started to explain how one is conscious and in control when doing any of these activities and then it struck me: this person hadn’t eaten or gone to work in days and was scared of dying, but the fear of what she might have to feel as she was healing was still very strong. She was stuck. My philosophy for my own life is that I would rather feel what is already in my body than to sit in a cage as I try not to feel it. Sitting trapped in a cage of one’s own creation is far more terrifying than anything else. Anxiety can be powerful as it tries to tell us all of the things we shouldn’t do or can’t tolerate as we try to relieve it. I see that as anxiety’s voice of self preservation rather than as the truth. I think we are all incredibly powerful and that when we tap into our hearts and spend less time and attention on fear and anxiety, we can live our truth. My wish is that we all learn healthy ways to manage the powerful emotions that arise in us so that this earth can be a better place for all of us to live.

Are you or a loved one muddling through difficult issues in your life? If so, please call or send me an email to discuss how working together might help.

Read More Articles