How to Be Empowered by Anxiety
Anxiety is ubiquitous. As a psychotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and previously as a counsellor to teachers and students, I recognize anxiety as one of the primary problems people are seeking help for. There are many ideas and perceptions written about anxiety and its complexities from numerous professionals in a variety of health fields. We are blessed to have many insights and approaches to anxiety; we get a lot of options to experiment with. I am writing this blog entry as an option because I have a perspective that I feel is underrepresented, and has been a great benefit to myself and my clients:
Anxiety, when understood as energy, becomes an invitation into a way of life that is empowered, magical and full of possibility.
The general sense people have about anxiety is it is a pest that they want to do away with. The popular treatment forms of anxiety; cognitive behavioural therapy, and medication, aim to help people get rid of the anxious feelings so they can "get on with their lives", and not be derailed by anxiety. For certain people, at certain times, myself included, these methods can be a helpful option. However, what if by "getting on with our lives" we are missing an opportunity to step into a version of our lives that is truly extraordinary?
I understand that thinking of anxiety as anything more positive than a pest to get rid of could be triggering for people who deal with high levels of anxiety. By no means do I want to dismiss or downplay the difficulties you are facing. I am presenting some ideas, and inviting you to consider, ask questions and explore. With some experimenting, you may find another tool to add to your toolbox to help navigate your life.
Anxiety is an invitation into experiencing and working with life as energy. This is remarkably empowering and awakens me and my clients to a sense of awe and possibility. In this view, anxiety, like all things, is energy. Anxiety shows up as body sensations, energetic experiences that the mind tells stories about, which often amplify the body sensations. Anxiety brings us into a heightened state of arousal, an energized state. If we work with it as energy, we step into a magical world.
For the sake of identifying it and bringing our awareness to it, let’s first discuss commonly known triggers of anxiety—public speaking, being in a crowd, exams or tests, social scenarios, and interviews, to name a few. Other triggers may be less common or consciously considered, such as exposure to radiation, making a transition, picking up on another person’s energy or emotional state.
Empaths, or highly sensitive people may experience anxiety more often. Also, individuals who have a heart yearning, or a soul’s calling may experience anxiety as a way to WAKE UP to make change.
I have been awakened by anxiety on many occasions, some little bouts of it and in other times, heart beating out of my chest, choking on my breath experiences. I have used these moments as check points, presenting me with my power of choice to choose a world that stays stuck or is full of possibility.
You may have heard it said that we create our worlds with our speech and our thoughts (our inner speech).
So we start here...
I often hear clients talk about anxiety as, “my anxiety”. What if it changes to "the anxiety", or "the energy tangle", like a tangle in your hair to be smoothed out? By removing the ‘my’ there is more room for learning and empowerment. Also, thinking of anxiety as an energy tangle helps to keep it from hardening up with all the stories that the mind puts on it, where it can become an immovable beast that we are powerless against.
So...what is needed to smooth out, or free up an energy tangle?
This is where energy practices come into play. We know energy moves quickly–plug something into the end of a long extension cord and it comes almost instantaneously, or send a text to another country and receive a reply moments later. If "my anxiety" is interpreted as "an energy tangle", all of a sudden, I have great potential to move it, even to move it quickly!
Check out the energy practices on my youtube channel, the type of practices that need to be tested out, and practiced, to know their efficacy and to build their power and make them your own. To smooth out and move energy!
Let's explore examples from my own life of how anxiety, when engaged as an energy, invited me into being a more empowered, awe-filled, joyous person.
When I graduated from my psychotherapy training all the graduates were invited to give speeches at the ceremony. It was an emotional situation, trying to sum up what this life-changing course had meant to me. I stepped up to the lectern and started to speak. I became aware of a scramble in my mind, as my throat tightened and my breath became shallow. My body was covered in tingles and my body temperature rose quickly. This was anxiety.
In that moment I resisted the well-trodden neural pathway of self-doubt, shame, blame, embarrassment, etc... and decided to be a model of how to move in the world with an understanding of anxiety as an energy tangle. I stepped away from the microphone, stretched my arms up in the air, and threw them down with a loud exhale. I shook my limbs and then gave out a vocal yelp of release, breaking up the energy tangle in my body and in the whole room (from what I heard...) I stepped back to the microphone and gave what my husband still says is the most authentic and powerful speech he has ever heard.
Another, more every day example, with a different application of energy practices, is that I often notice anxiety (energy tangles) when I'm working on my computer. As an entrepreneur, the work I do on my computer relates to my survival/livelihood and my self-image, how I put myself out into the world. These are things that can arouse quite a bit of energy tangles.
I deal with these energy tangles through strategies I have developed; many have led me to making bigger changes in my life. On a practical level, I've found that setting up my computer near a window that I can look out and connect with nature is very helpful in keeping my energy moving. Also, having precious gems and rocks nearby, which have a grounding and clearing effect, wearing a silver-lined blanket, eating regular healthy snacks, and of course taking breaks to do energy practices.
As I tend to energy/anxiety I move from contraction to expansion, and tune into what feels alive for me. From this place I go deeper into my places of inspiration, creativity and courage. Engaging energy tangles with receptivity, understanding their call for refinement of my needs, lets me protect myself so I can stay open to truly feel the joys and triumphs of what I'm growing in my life of service.
As an alternative to medicating anxiety into submission, or using cognitive behavioural strategies to bypass it and keep moving in our desired direction, I propose accepting anxiety's invitation. Anxiety calls me to step into an understanding of the world as energy, where I have more power, more freedom and more joy.
If you would like help working with your anxiety in a liberating and empowering way, connect with me for a free consultation, or join my free online community YOUR HEART COMMAND CENTER-RELATIONSHIP FUEL to take part in what I'm offering.
With grounding and expanding
Love and Light!
Margo Lee Burton
R.S.W., M.S.W., B.Ed., C.Y.T.
Social Worker, Psychotherapist
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