Welcome to my most recent attempt at the annual A – to – Z blog a day. I’ve not done this for a couple of years and might be a bit out of practice since I’ve devoted the past couple of years to becoming a counselor rather than writing, but hey, it’s high time the two halves of my life introduced themselves, because I can’t be one without the other. I can’t be a counselor without writing and I really want to add writing to my counseling career, and what better way to start?
At first, I thought I’d write A is for Anxiety. Turns out I’ve done that several times already, so I pondered what else might be applicable. As I considered my options, I realized that Anxiety is a perfect place to start and from there it’s a hop skip and a jump to those other A words: Awareness, Authenticity, and Allow. It so happens that I have many clients who are living with anxiety. Anxiety permeates every aspect of our lives these days whether we are students, workers, parents, or children. Everyone seems to be facing down this demon. Over the past year, as I’ve talked to dozens of individuals and couples, I have come to visualize anxiety as the tension between what we want to be and where we are currently, this distressing in-between place. And because we feel trapped and uncomfortable in our anxiety, we try to suppress our discomfort when instead, in order to work with our anxiety, we need to first Allow it to be. And then we need to Ask it what it wants.
I did not come up with this strategy on my own—I learned it from one of my counselors who told me I need to invite my feelings “in for tea” so I could “get to know them.” What I have learned from this exercise is that if we can allow ourselves to face our fears, we can stop running and listen to what they are trying to tell us. To be aware in our lives, which allows us to be fully present, and in being fully present we can become authentic, our real true selves because we have faced our worst fears and found ourselves more powerful for our bravery.
Try it. I dare you. Interview your Anxiety. Ask it to sit next to you on the couch. Hell, give it a name, introduce yourself, and ask it what it wants. What needs to change in order for you to lessen the tension between what you are and what you want to be? Allow yourself to become! (thanks Michelle Obama)