“Something more important, more urgent”. This is a voice that comes to me quite regularly. And I answer it with “what could possibly be more important than me remembering right here and now what is real”.
What is going on in this moment. I use my senses to bring myself into this moment. I’m sitting writing here at the table, I can feel the seat under me, I hear muffled cars passing, the fridge buzzing lightly. I can smell my newly washed hair, and taste the tea I’m drinking. I can allow myself to settle into this moment. It is the only one I know, so let me make it a conscious one. And I always discover that actually I am completely safe.
Anxiety appears. ‘Hello anxiety, welcome, here-have a little compassion and a metaphorical hug, let me know what you are saying, I’m listening”. Often I don’t know what it is saying, little Anxious Annie doesn’t need much prompting to visit me. She hovers around me a lot just in the background always looking out for me, for dangers and threats. Even when there are none. And there mostly aren’t any real threats. Sometimes she invents one like “shouldn’t you be worried about such n such happening and take immediate action?”. And sometimes I believe her and I feel the stress rise in my body.
I take a breath. Actually for all that anxiety that has been generated over the years I’m still sitting here safe and comfortable and always have been safe. Okay maybe my feet are getting a little cold, I’ll put my socks on. Ok done, nice n cosy.
It’s unpleasant feeling anxiety. No doubt about that! I can feel it right now, even though in a minor way in this moment. It is part of who we are as human beings, we have evolved to detect threats. Many of us have a bit of a trigger happy threat detection system. We are all being manipulated by the advertising and media industries out there who know how to grab our attention by suggesting threats. Some of us had childhoods that led us to have a predisposition towards anxiety, and some of us just have a personality or constitution that inclines us to feel it easily.
First of all accepting that it has arrived and being honest about it lessens the pain of it. Trying to deny or replace it can just add to our discomfort. Just saying “I feel anxious”, can lessen the pain of resisting it which can be actually more uncomfortable that the feeling of it.
That is why I turn towards my Anxious Annie with love and tenderness. She is trying to help me after all. But she is only one of many characters that travel with me. There’s a Bold Bertha, there’s a Caring Connie, and an Irritable Iris, a Gentle Gertrude, and a whole host of others including a Wise Winifred. And behind all those aspects of my makeup, there’s a wide open spacious awareness that I can sit right back into and watch and experience the show from.
Wise Winifred is a close friend of this wide open spacious awareness, she knows that she is in good hands there. She has learned that thoughts come and go and she has learned not to get caught up in them. She notices them and lets them go. She knows she is like the sky and the thoughts are passing weather. Anxious Annie is coming round but she still isn’t quite sure about it, but Wise Winifred is coaxing her gently to let her experience that it’s a reliable place of safety, refuge and peace. And she hugs Anxious Annie often.
A link for some further info on accepting anxiety.