‘Anxiety’ – it’s a word that was far from commonly used when I was a kid. Let’s face it – it’s a buzz word for ‘fear’. It’s just that it’s taken on a diagnostic implication. If you were to say “I’ve got fear”, you’d realise you’re saying: “I’m scared”. Then the natural next question would be: “why am I scared?”
Living in fear can be a dreadful way to live. It’s debilitating, and takes so much of the fun and joy out of life. It also impacts those around you.
So, why the fear?
Why the sense of being unsafe, even when you know you’re safe?
PURELY AND SIMPLY
It’s the result of unresolved stress or distress from the past.
What do I mean by unresolved? Good question!
I mean that the body and mind didn’t fully self-regulate after that stressful time or event. The event wasn’t properly stored away as a memory by the hippocampus.
BRAINS AND MEMORIES
The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for converting short term memories into long term memories. It’s the main part of the brain responsible for processing memories.
When we’re in a stress response the hippocampus isn’t functioning properly because we don’t need to be using energy to store memories when we’re fighting or running from danger. The problem is that the stressful event can sort of get stuck in No Man’s Land inside us, and not filed away properly as a memory. It can stay in the system like a video tape loop, running over and over and over: “I’m not safe, I’m not safe, I’m not safe”. The subconscious mind and the body don’t know that the stressful time is over, and the video tape loops stay on repeat. The system is stuck in “I’m not safe, and it’s still happening. I’m still in danger”
You get the picture.
Sometimes the fear is set off by an outer occurrence, or ‘triggered’. Think panic attacks. Sometimes we consciously know what sets it off, and sometimes not.
Other times, the internal video tape loop is on auto repeat, and just never switches off. Think constant generalized anxiety, or complex PTS(D).
RESOLUTION AND MANAGEMENT…
… are two very different approaches to dealing with anxiety. We’re often told we just need to manage anxiety, or somehow live with PTS(D).
Not true. It can be resolved.
How? Again, good question!
Well, you need to turn off those video tape loops, and let the body and the subconscious mind know: “I’m safe. And it’s over.” The hippocampus can then file that event or time away as a memory. Done. Dusted. Over. Finished… and I’m safe now.
Don’t let anyone tell you these things can’t be resolved. They can. I see it week after week. Just today a client left a voicemail message for me celebrating feeling “neutral”, not triggered:
[In the last 48 hours] I’ve had 2 instances that would normally send me off on a major trigger. And I felt nothing! [LOL with hilarity and disbelief!!!] So I’m just celebrating feeling nothing.”
Yesterday I took a DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Score) for a client. It was a score of 8, and registered ‘normal’ in all three areas. When she came to me 3 ½ weeks ago her DASS was 35, with severe depression and extremely severe stress – and she’d been feeling relaxed compared to ‘normal’ at the time!
You can resolve anxiety. Resolution, calm and a good life are much closer than you may have thought.
If you want to explore this further, book a complimentary chat time with me here.