Q. What is Anxiety from an ‘ Emotional Intelligence’ viewpoint?
A. Anxiety is the equivalent of the surface presenting symptom of varying degrees of old emotional pain just below the level of conscious awareness. This emotional pain is close to coming out and because painful emotions are deemed as ‘bad/dangerous/no- go-zones’ by the body’s & mind’s defence system, the ‘fight or flight’ defence mechanism is activated. This ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is fear and adrenalin based, which is why an anxious person experiences the symptom’s of being on edge and ‘strung out’, hyper vigilant, feeling as if something ‘bad’ is going to happen or go horribly wrong.
As a result the person who has ‘emotional pain’ coming to the surface, ends up due to societal & cultural conditioning, and simply human nature, needing to keep busy and distract themselves from/ avoid feeling, the emotional pain which is trying to get their attention. It is often simply human nature and the way we are ‘wired’ that makes us want to naturally avoid ‘unpleasant’ emotions.
This busyness will be either compulsive physical activity or mental activity or a mix of the two. This is why anxiety will very easily be covered up by ‘workaholism’ and can be masqueraded as ’striving for success and accomplishment’. If success is not a person’s focus they will simply become ‘Do-Aholics’ and keep themselves busy in a 101 different ways, doing anything from cleaning the house, organizing and re-organizing things such as clothes drawers or the kitchen cabinets or indulging obsessively in their favourite passion/ hobby.
The mental activity is also a favoured mechanism used by us to distract ourselves from/ avoid feeling, our emotional pain. If you have a look at the workaholic mechanism you will see that a work/do-aholic will do anything to avoid sitting still with themselves and what is really happening in their emotional world. When your average work/do-aholic is forced to sit and be still, they will find that the activity, which is the distraction from the emotions, will suddenly go into their head and they will think, plan, analyse, turnover things in their mind, they will even think of the same thing from different angles over and over a 1001 times… anything as long as they are thinking and being active mentally so they do not have to enter the ‘space’ of being-ness and passivity , within which emotions rise to the forefront of their consciousness.
As the ‘anxiety reaction’ is undealt with over time and builds up/ escalates as a response, or if a person experiences a ‘triggering of’ of a past emotional trauma, the anxiety response can become one that is so amplified it becomes gradually (or overnight) what mainstream psychology refers to as ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ or even the ‘Up/Manic’ phase of the Bi-polar/ Manic depressive cycle (as anxiety is in 9 out of 10 cases an indicator of up a coming depression phase in the next 2 weeks to 2 years). When the drivenness to ‘do’ or ‘think’ becomes extreme and ‘irrational/ illogical’. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just higher up on the severity scale of the Anxiety graph. It is the same mechanism behind it. It is that simple really, over thinking about it and over analysis of it (due to the collective humanity being at the mercy of too much thinking/analysing due to the collective avoidance of our emotional pain) has made the contemplators of the past try to distinguish it from the common everyday degree of anxiousness and ‘controlling’ behaviour.
Q. So I assume since it is old emotional pain at the cause of the symptom of anxiety, than this has to be addressed to deal with the root of it?
A. Yes, how to deal with it is actually straight forward. Since the it is the old emotional pain coming to the surface that triggers of what we call the anxiety symptoms, a sufferer of anxiety needs to be willing to deal with their emotional baggage. The first step of this is coming out of denial that there is something to deal with in the first place. That there is actually something very straightforward behind the symptoms of hyper-vigilance, restless sleep/ insomnia, obsessive thinking and overall state of angst. Something that is not really dealt with by taking legal drugs such as Xanax and Valium. Unfortunately traditional psychological/ counselling approaches are very out of date to the point of useless in their ability to help people understand and ‘experience’ what they have buried in there unconscious. Experience is the only true knowledge. It is only when someone experiences a release of old emotions that they did not even know were there for them, do they truly start to understand what was behind their anxiety (or depression) symptoms and then a natural understanding and coming out of denial can occur for them as to the job they have ahead of them. The good news is that the same tool that enables people to experience unconscious emotions also enables these emotions to be able to be permanently released and dealt with relatively quickly and symptoms of anxiety to noticeably go down in the short to medium term. This tool is Cathartic Style Breathwork. A 60 minute cycle of a particular style of breathing that needs to be guided by an experienced professional and results in the breaking down of the defence between the conscious and unconscious realms of the mind.
Jaan Jerabek is the founder of ‘The Depression Solution’ and ‘Transformative Education International’. He trains therapists and facilitates ‘Advanced Life Transformation’ programmes for sufferers of Depression & Anxiety. You can find out more on www.thedepressionsolution.com or call 1800 500 881