Tag Archives: intense anxiety

Love & Anxiety #4: A racing mind is not your friend!

As I suggested in the series previous blogs, there are quite a few tools anyone can use to help bring the brain/body out of the avoid-danger mode; many of them target the body directly. Sometimes, we try to use our minds to logically think our way out of anxiety. However, if you have been anxious for any length of time, usually your Cerebral Cortex/logical system is not much of a deterrent to your worrying, or imagining future catastrophes.

Some people call the mind, a monkey in a banana tree, but I have another metaphor. If you will join me in your “right” brain for a few minutes and try some imagery. Please imagine you are a large and lovely, green, tree. Try it, I dare you, take at least a minute to see the grounded strong tree that is you. For another 30 seconds, enjoy your strength and solidness. Here, the branches represent your mind, and your brain/body is the trunk and roots. Now, see a huge wind sweep by you, notice how it whips the branches frantically about, but does very little to the trunk and roots. The wind is similar to stress and anxiety, it gets our mind so whipped into a frenzy that we can barely think straight, or calm down. This is the best time to ground down into the trunk/root system of your body.

When you practice the tools of mindfulness, guided imagery, meditation, yoga, prayer, relaxation, breathing exercises, etc., you will discover that as your body relaxes, your mind slows down and settles. The best way to reduce racing thoughts, obsessions, and worrying, is to ground yourself in your body (tree trunk) using any one of the above disciplines. However, for some, this can be scary. If you have been anxious for any length of time, you primarily experience your body, as a repository of anxiety and source of discomfort. Therefore, you are motivated to stay out of your body. We often want to stay far away from those sensations and upsetting feelings in the pit of our stomachs, chests, or throats. It is a paradox, or counter-intuitive perhaps, but experiencing those uncomfortable sensations without being controlled by them, is actually the route to relaxation and freedom. We need to relax, let go, and be with what is occurring, without fear or judgment. Fleeing from our awareness of anxious or unpleasant feelings is the problem. The more we fear them, the more they tyrannize our lives. So, do your mind and body a big favor, slow down, relax, and begin to learn to trust. It will all work out.

Going deeper:

1.)What do you do when your mind is like a monkey in a banana tree, racing about from thought to thought? What happens in your mind when you focus on your body instead?

2.)Can you take some time this week to pay particular attention to your body and see what changes you might experience? Write this down as a goal for yourself.

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-wk anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.

Love & Anxiety: Part one

It is no wonder that sometimes love & anxiety can walk hand in hand, like two very different people on a bad blind date. Emotions related to early attachment (how much and well we were loved by our first caretakers), and the amygdala, that tiny group of nuclei in the brain- sometimes referred to as the brain’s smoke detector, both reside snugly in the limbic system.

Love can send us spiraling into intense anxiety (ask a teenager on a first date, or someone unlucky enough to be insecurely attached). Or love can bring us back to bliss, and the body sensations of safety and relaxation from a place of frightened fear. The following three things swing the moment-by-moment pendulum that determines whether love causes us anxiety, or whether love calms our anxiety: Where we focus our attention, our early attachment history, and any subsequent traumas we may have endured.

Love is more powerful than anxiety; watch any loving mother with a hurt and terrified child. The message of peace the mother’s touch and her love send into that child’s body, eventually triumphs over the child’s state of fragmenting fear and he calms down. However, experiencing too much anxiety, can block out the messages love sends: Like an abused child meeting a teacher who tries to be kind and care for her. The child will often be so suspicious, her anxiety becomes a fog of fear blotting out the teacher’s messages of love, the way a dense fog covers the sun.

If love causes you a lot of anxiety, you can do some research on your attachment style. Diane Poole Heller has a wonderful website to help people learn about this subject. Many well-trained therapists also understand attachment issues, and can give you some guidance. If you have trouble loving others or being loved, you may have experienced a traumatic event(s) that has twisted your previously safe worldview into a view from a funhouse mirror. Love then, feels terrifying, or insubstantial and unable to reach your heart.

So how do we use our ability to love and be loved, to blow away the messages of fear and anxiety that have been programmed in many of our brains, like messages from a crazy radio station?  Stay tuned to the next blog for some answers….

Going Deeper:

  1. How do love and anxiety interact in your own life? Are you aware of the ways your past history of love impacts your current love relationships? If so, write down what you notice.
  2. Think about some ways in which your loving relationships can help you counter or decrease anxiety when it hits.

Evict the anxiety from your life. Join one of my 3 wk Anxiety Reduction workshops. See http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for details. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount.