“I feel like I am meant to say to you that I have anxiety because I had a deeply traumatic childhood. But actually I have anxiety because the world is f**ked…” So said Tom Odell in a recent interview with ‘Gentleman’s Journal’.
…and so say thousands of others who suffer with serious anxiety disorders (I used to be one of them).
It’s brilliant that people in the public eye speak out about issues like this. On the other hand, speaking about these issues, from this perspective, only serves to re-enforce beliefs about high anxiety and panic that simply aren’t true i.e. that it’s about the outside world and that it’s an illness.
The reality is, it’s about our internal world; the fear we’re carrying inside ourselves.
Like millions of others I watched Nadiya Hussain’s documentary, ‘Anxiety and Me’.
The main thing that struck me was her fantastic attitude. Nadiya didn’t want a coping mechanism, she wanted a ‘cure’; to be free of anxiety altogether. Relaying this to her doctor she was told that “anxiety isn’t that kind of illness’.
So what kind of illness is it then?
It’s the kind of illness that isn’t an illness at all which is why, when you approach it from a medical position, there is no way forward.
When we have an experience that frightens us, particularly when we’re young, we do one of two things:
We process it out or we don’t.
If we don’t process it out, it gets locked in. Locked inside us, we become ‘sensitised’. As a result, we become more ‘reactive’ to our environment.
As we get older and have other scary experiences, particularly those that remind us of the first one, our ‘pool’ of internalised fear grows… and grows… and grows…!
When it’s big enough, it starts to dominate. The more it dominates us the more easily it’s ‘triggered’ and the harder it is to get under control.
Once you understand this, you realise that the mental and physical side-effects we’re so worried about, don’t reflect our state of health. They reflect past experience; the more intelligent, imaginative and creative we are, the more likely we are to create a pool of internalised fear that creates problems later.
Think about it. Tom Odell – highly creative, imaginative, successful – his new album? MONSTERS. What’s at the core of his fear? If I had to take a guess, I’d say it was something to do with a party and a snake; an experience he’s probably forgotten about, but his system definitely hasn’t!
Tackle anxiety from this perspective, identify the root experience and when the penny drops, you’ll find high anxiety is a thing of the past!