ANXIETY: From Anxiety to Freedom
How we choose to see the world deeply affects our attitude and how we perceive the world around us. When we see ourselves as separate from others, we may feel anxious, depressed or disconnected. Fear, anxiety, as well as the inner tension and stress that accompany them, are internal behaviors occurring only in your mind. Although you may have been trained to react fearfully in general or in specific situations, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy educates you to retrain your nervous system by changing your thoughts, moving your muscles and becoming more aware of the present moment. This trains your nervous system to create new neuropathways that override the fear/tension response. Mindful awareness (often called Mindfulness) allows us to use the present moment as an opportunity to become more conscious of what is actually occurring rather than looking regretfully into the past or fearfully into the future.
Many times, fears are linked to specific things or events. It is not the event we actually fear, it is the sensation. By practicing changing our thoughts, moving our bodies and evolving our consciousness, we can learn to overcome our fear reactions by having a choice to how we can respond.
Anxiety is a general term that refers to both a set of symptoms and a number of different psychological disorders, all of which are associated with fear, panic, nervousness, apprehension, and/or worrying. These disorders can change our emotions and feelings and affect how we behave. Due to the many interconnections between mind, body, and emotions, they are often also associated with the development of physical symptoms of anxiety (headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, elevated blood pressure, etc.).
Everyone experiences some of the symptoms of anxiety from time to time – perhaps as a vague, unsettling feeling that arises in the face of certain demands or challenges in our lives (before a speech, interview, test, deadline, or performance, for example).
It may be mild, of brief duration, and of no consequence. On the other hand the symptoms might be as strong as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Rage /Excessive Anger, or symptoms might appear only at certain times as in Social Anxiety Disorder, or Phobias. Sometimes symptoms appear to come to the surface as physical symptoms as well. Severe anxiety, on the other hand, can be extremely debilitating and have a serious impact on your life. When symptoms reach such a level that it our functioning is impaired by interfering with sleep, relationships, performance, or physical health it may be time to realize what you are doing is no longer working. If we are to truly transform our minds, we must find the willingness to realize that “there must be another way.”
Symptoms can include:
- Preocuppation with the past or future and what might happen
- Change in Appetite
- Feelings or terror or panic
- Rage and Anger
- Avoiding certain situations that trigger fear or anger
DEPRESSION: From Depression to Joy
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Depression can be mild or severe, ranging from low feeling when your team fails to reach the Super Bowl, the weeks of grieving following the end of an important relationship, to the deep kind of depression that can last for years.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment but in truth becoming sick of sickness can be seen as an opportunity for real change. The majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which also involves developing a meditation practice of mindful awareness (often called Mindfulness). CBT and meditation can greatly improve the symptoms of depression as well as anxiety, again by evolving our consciousness, changing our thoughts and moving our muscles in order to become more present, mindful and realistic.
The power to choose determines our experience. If we believe the world is dangerous and imperfect, we seek constantly to attack and defend. We can learn to overcome our habitual reactions and respond in a way of joy and peace. If we are to truly transform our anxiety into freedom, and depression into joy, we must find the willingness to believe that “there must be another way.” A psychotherapeutic relationship that teaches the practical application of CBT and Mindfulness is the way for such healing. The path to inner peace always begins with you 👼