Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is Natural

Anxiety is a natural and instinctive reaction to potential threats in the outside world that involve some degree of uncertainty.  The problem is that is has not evolved to deal with the insidious threats of modern society, the pressures of life and the stresses of an ever more demanding work environment.

Carl Sagan expressed it wisely.

For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten. The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood.

Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural process that deals with that period of uncertainty when we are not quite sure if a threat is real or not. In normal situations where there is no pressure or threats, we make realistic judgments about the future based on probability and consequences. However, when we are unsure about the threat we make worst case judgments as a survival mechanism to prepare ourselves in case things go south and we need to react quickly. This works fine in the jungle but does not work that well in the concrete jungle.

The process plays out something like this:

  • We sense something may be wrong
  • Our subconscious mind runs back through our memories looking for a similar situation that we encountered in the past
  • It brings that memory forward into the present along with the state we had at the time
    • This state includes the feelings, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and actions associated with that memory
  • If the previous reaction was to panic and run then we find ourselves running without a second thought
  • When we sense that we are safe from the threat, we stop and turn and re-evaluate the situation logically

If we live in the jungle and we panic and run for no good reason nothing is lost. In modern society we can panic but generally we cannot run – and there lies the problem.

Coping with Anxiety

Often people attempt to mask the unsettling feelings with comfort food, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, or even risky behaviour; simply to find that these coping mechanisms compound the problem and pose a threat of serious long term harm.

Alternatively people turn to medication which can mask the discomforting feelings, but this does nothing to resolve the uncertainty and lack of control that is at the heart of the problem.

When Does Anxiety Become a Problem?

Anxiety often arises when the threat is not present and you create a fantasy (an image, a movie, or runaway thoughts) inside your head. You then dwell on this fantasy and react emotionally to it as if it is real. You then embellish the fantasy by going back into the past and dredging up old memories with their dramas and what ifs and should haves. Then you look through this kaleidoscope of embellished memories and imagine a future where everything is going pear shaped and you don’t like what you see or imagine, even though in all probability things will not turn out anything like what you have imagined.

The Solution

The problem lies in the fact that where one person looks inside their head and sees uncertainty and fear, another looks out into the world and sees challenge and adventure. The solution is simply to get out of your head and evaluate situations realistically to put the problem back in perspective.

FEAR = Failure to Evaluate Actual Reality

Hypnosis For Anxiety

To help clients deal with anxiety we use a modern approach to clinical hypnotherapy that employs strategic psychotherapy, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and Ericksonian hypnosis. First we explain the misunderstandings that are at the heart of the problem, in addition to giving you tools to deal with intrusive thoughts and feelings. Using an outcome based approach we do not revisit the past. Instead we shift your focus from inside your head to outside your head, and also from the past to the future to give you perspective and clarity. We teach you strategies and decision making skills that you did not develop as you grew up or have lost due to trauma or stress. Following this we use deeper hypnosis to re-align any dysfunctional cognitive processes and bring your conscious mind, subconscious mind back into harmony.

In a Nutshell

We do not see anxiety as a problem and you can feel assured that you are not broken. You are simply suffering from being human. Positive results have shown us that anxiety can be rectified by settling your thoughts and feelings and shifting your focus back out into the real world and the future beyond.