Article By Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, Guest Expert and author of the award-winning book It’s Not Always Depression.
3 Minute Read
Recently, I was at my dentist’s office when I heard the assistant, I’ll call her Emily, talking with the office receptionist. Emily had asked her boyfriend to buy her an anxiety cube. My ears perked up when I heard the word “anxiety” so I asked her if she suffered with a lot of anxiety. She smiled sheepishly nodding yes. I told her I was a psychotherapist who teaches people how to ease anxiety and asked if she wanted me to share a bit of education that might help. She and the office receptionist both nodded yes.
Anxiety is a Signal
Commonly, we block fear and our other core emotions with anxiety. Anxiety can manifest in many physical ways including muscular tension, holding our breath, stomach aches, headaches, and many other ways, including out of body experiences. So now, instead of experiencing our core emotions, we experience these other symptoms. In a way, knowing this is great news! Because now, when we have anxiety, there is something we can do to ease it: we can look for the underlying emotions. In fact, with practice, any time we feel anxiety, we will immediately remember to look for the underlying core emotions coming up and tend to them in healthy and safe ways that lead to relief. The look on their faces was something close to enthralled. “Wow. That really resonates,” the receptionist said. I gave them my card with my writing website and invited them to check out some of my articles and YouTube videos to learn more about emotions. I thought it would help, I told them.
Using Anxiety as a Signal on Our Own and with a Therapist
When I first met Sally, she got anxious any time she felt angry. Through our connection and by teaching Sally techniques to lower anxiety such as grounding and breathing, she could connect to her anger again and use it wisely. Sally listened to what her anger was trying to tell her. She soon learned to use it to assert her needs and to set boundaries with her family so they could not take advantage of her.
Easing Anxiety Using the Change Triangle
Hilary Jacobs Hendel is a certified psychoanalyst and AEDP psychotherapist and supervisor, as well as the inspiration behind our Wiggle Warrior Training. Learn more about her contributions to our programming here >>
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