When a client first approaches me they usually want help with navigating their anxiety in relationships, whether that's romantic or otherwise. They are also a little puzzled by the idea that their anxiety is a real gift that is waiting to be opened up.
It’s hard for them to see past how they are feeling right now in the moment. They usually long for someone to tell them what to do to get better and get rid of the anxiety. They want to get to the other side of it, to that place of grounding, inner peace and clarity. And it cannot come soon enough.
As a Master Jungian Life Coach, perinatal practitioner, my role is not to tell you what to do*. I help you overcome your internal barriers to finding the gifts of your anxiety.
One of those barriers is the misconception many of us have over what attending to our emotions look like.
Attending to your emotions is very different to talking yourself out of feeling the way you do. Attending to your emotions is not an attempt to reason with yourself or dismiss how you feel. It is not an attempt to by-pass your emotions either.
So many of us grew up in an environment where we were not taught or role-modelled a healthy way to work with emotions.
I remember being about 5 or 6 years old. After watching the real Little Mermaid by Anderson, I was inconsolable over her death at the end of the tale. My loving parents were a little puzzled and didn't really know what to do. They very much did their very best to try to comfort me by telling me not to be sad, because it was just a story.
This is not an unhealthy way to deal with emotions. But an alternative would have been to allow me to experience the grief and sadness I was feeling without trying to contain or reason with it. Children are conditioned through emotions. At that age, we're not able to reason the way an adult would. When such instance happens, the child unconsciously absorbs that emotions need to be reasoned with or are shameful in some way.
As an adult if you struggle with anxiety, telling yourself not to feel anxious because the fear is not real, will not help. It would be like telling a crying toddler not to cry over a snatched toy. Is it helpful? No. Is it effective? Not really.
But that's how most of us have been consciously or unconsciously taught how to how to keep uncomfortable emotions at bay. And how this shows up is that we feel something uncomfortable or that feels threatening. For instance, you start feeling apprehensive and anxious as your wedding date approaches. You associate those feelings with the fact that something must be wrong otherwise you wouldn't feel the way you do. Instead of attending to the very reasonable and healthy grief that comes with the end of your single life and the start of a new area, you repress it. This will only contribute to the anxiety growing bigger.
By dismissing the anxiety, you also dismiss the emotions that lie underneath. Those emotions need to come through. And anxiety is your alarm signal telling you something needs to be seen and acknowledged.
Next time you feel anxious or any kind of uncomfortable emotions, become mindful. Instead of pushing it away, making it feel like such an unwelcome guest, ask yourself: what lies beneath this? What wants to come through?
Give yourself space and time to be with this.
Are you wanting to uncover as part of a small and intimate group how to work with your anxiety to uncover the gifts it has for you so you can feel deeply connected with who you are, want you want and bring that to your relationship free from worries, insecurities and anxiety?
I am putting together a group coaching programme which will launch next month to help you do just that. Make sure to register your interest by simply emailing me to be the first to know when it launches.
* if you ever suspect a coach you’ve hired is giving you advice or telling you what to do, I would urge you to reconsider your relationship. Here is a post I wrote on Life Coaching red flags.