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Mid Wales Hypnotherapy

Paul Thomas MWFH; MBAThH; MSHA... Therapy rooms in Aberystwyth; Machynlleth; Llanidloes; & Borth

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I keep seeing this strip about Anxiety on social media sites, and, each time I see it, I want to respond more passionately, as I don't agree with some of the statements made. I've finally got round to writing something. To see the strip, click here

I have a lot of compassion for the person in this strip, and empathy too, as I've certainly been there myself in the past.
I wonder if the person who created this is still suffering in this way, and, if so, whether she has sought professional help with the way she's thinking. It would be nice to think that she has still at least the same kind of loving support she talks about at the end.

This strip certainly illustrates wonderfully exactly how someone suffering with Anxiety might think about it. However, as I said, I don't agree with some of the statements made, because I know that there are many ways in which she could learn to feel better about herself and be more independent.

I know many therapists that help people suffering in a similar way, all the time.
The first thing they might teach this woman is that 'Anxiety' is not a thing - it's an activity....

                                  Go to page and read whole strip
 We all have our own unique triggers for anxiety, dependent on our past experiences. As more and more people are realising, we can learn to ease the physiological symptoms of anxiety through breathing and relaxation techniques etc, but it's also essential to learn to be mindful of what kind of thoughts we're allowing ourselves to pay attention to, as it is these that can keep anxiety going.

Anxiety is an activity in which we have to participate, in order to suffer from it.

It is certainly NOT like the weather, as this unfortunate person is suggesting. Apart from anything else, most people would agree that taking the weather personally would be insane. The point being that, in order to be affected by this anxiety/activity, to the extent that you keep it going like this, you have to take it personally.

In this poor woman's case, it seems that she has thoughts about what other people might think of her, and worries about this. This is a very common way of keeping anxiety symptoms going. But it's important to understand that the cause is that she's BOTHERED by those thoughts, and NOT those thoughts themselves.

Because, the next thing to remember is that, unlike Anxiety (which is NOT a 'thing'), thoughts ARE things; they're just objects - even ones such as 'What will everyone think of me?' - they're just thoughts; objects in awareness. Thoughts just come and go.

They can only harm us if we BELIEVE them.

This is why many therapists often work at the level of beliefs with people suffering in this way, as well as making sure that these clients are able to rationally refute self-attacking thoughts.

Showing curiosity about thoughts that seem to grab us in this way can be a good way to lessen their power. A question such as 'What would I have to believe in order for these kind of thoughts to bother me so much?' etc

What we often get to is a fundamental belief that we are worthless in some way - 'I'm just such a (terrible/selfish/stupid etc) person...'

As well as seeing that this is actually just another 'thought', we can notice that these words are judgements - they only make sense as a comparison; and, even if it was a comparison with a specific (kind of) person, it's usually not too hard to remove the power from it, when we remember that everyone is a unique individual, with their own unique experience.

We usually pick up beliefs like 'I'm just such a (terrible/selfish/stupid etc) person...' when we are too young to have the ability to discriminate what we allow ourselves to believe about ourselves. Children tend to take criticism personally, and can easily learn to see mistakes they make while learning to do something, as evidence that they are no good.

As this well-meaning and charming strip suggests, a person suffering from the process of keeping anxiety going can easily believe that there's nothing they can do to stop doing that. As it also suggests, "consistent reassurance and patience" can usually do a pretty good job, but is unlikely to be very sustainable.

However, with the right help, a person suffering like this can learn to develop a non-judgemental adult perspective and become free from the tyranny of self-perpetuating anxiety.