And it sort of sounds like exactly what we’re after.
But here’s the problem.
Anyone using the term ‘cure’ when it comes to anxiety has misunderstood what anxiety actually is.
For more than a decade now I’ve been helping people overcome their anxiety issues and get back in control of the way they think, feel and behave.
The one thing I haven’t been doing is trying to cure people of anxiety. And there are three main reasons why.
To suggest we try and cure something is to imply that we are talking about an illness of some kind.
The simple truth is that anxiety is NOT an illness. Anxiety is an emotion. Put things simply and briefly feeling anxious isn’t an indicator of illness, it’s an indicator that you are alive and you care what happens to you.
This is healthy.
Even in those instances when we’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder this simply means that currently our anxiety response is in some way confused. Changing this response isn’t about curing any illness, it’s about clearing up any confusion at a subconscious level so that our emotional responses fall in line with what we would deem appropriate.
If we accept that anxiety is an emotion it’s also important to realise that every single one of our emotions is functional and aimed at achieving something.
So for instance fear is the emotion designed to steer us away from danger, anger is the emotion that inspires us to try and right a perceived wrong.
Every one of our emotions has a purpose.
The purpose of anxiety is to steer our conscious focus towards whatever our mind regards as the most important issue for us to deal with right now.
This might be something we can take action on or unfortunately it might not be, but ultimately all of our emotions are trying to steer us towards happiness and anxiety is no exception. So for that reason trying to rid ourselves of anxiety is a misguided aspiration. Feeling anxiety fairly regularly isn’t just inevitable it’s kind of essential.
Without our ability to feel anxious we wouldn’t regard anything as important enough to be worthy of our attention and we’d live a largely meaningless unfocussed existence.
We might not find ourself worrying so much, but we wouldn’t necessarily be achieving anything meaningful that might bring us the kind of long term happiness we, as human beings are ultimately seeking.
Whilst we might regard inappropriately high levels of anxiety as in some way a disordered response it’s important to realise that every single person on the planet will experience inappropriately high levels of anxiety at some point or another in their life.
Maybe many times.
Perhaps even fairly regularly. This is because as I already mentioned we are all human, and human beings make mistakes.
It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow.
Our emotional responses are part of our flawed nature.
So for example, when the public speaker walks out on stage to deliver a speech, it’s highly likely their heart will be pounding as they fill with adrenaline in the pressure of the situation.
It’s the mind putting them into fight or flight in the face of perceived threat.
Yet of course this isn’t appropriate.
They’re not about to go into battle or flee from an attacker. They’re just going to talk about something.
The most appropriate emotional response would be a calm body and a clear and focussed mind.
Filling with adrenaline is a mistake in this situation.
Yet every single one of us can probably appreciate and completely understand why we might feel some level of physical distress in that situation. In fact every person on the planet will at some point have the experience of a situation FEELING like it’s life or death when they know it just isn’t.
To try and cure anxiety is to suggest we can become at some point immune to that response.
We can’t and we shouldn’t be trying.
None of us are perfect beings and any attempt to become one will ultimately lead to a life of disappointment and perceived failure.
Sometimes we just have to allow ourselves to be human…and that’s ok.
Anxiety is not an illness that needs curing.
It’s an emotional response that needs understanding and accepting as a natural and vital part of our human experience. Once we stop regarding any feelings of anxiety as an indicator of illness we can stop fearing feeling anxious.
Then once we get rid of that fear we start to experience a lot less anxiety.
So if you ever find yourself talking to someone who suggests they can cure your anxiety, please be sure to ask them why on earth they would want to do that.
The Control System | Master
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