Remember who you are!!!!
While working with a client recently, I was reminded how easy it is to forget who we are as an individual. Anxiety is very good at hijacking our identity and forcing us to believe that we become something other than ourselves – which we become anxiety itself.
How is this possible?
Although the term “anxiety” covers several conditions that people deal with – from anxiety disorders, panic disorders, phobias, etc – the one thing that is consistent in all of the conditions is the fact that the mind creates a constant loop of thoughts and images that seem to play over and over again. These loops are either trying to relive the past or predict the future.
In the process of this anxious thinking we forget to pay attention to ourselves. We become conditioned to looking away from the things that define us, and ultimately we allow the anxiety to define who we are. Our identity slips away from us and we lose touch with who we are as individuals.
I asked my client to tell me something about him – and he started talking about his anxiety. I brought him back to the question, “tell me something about YOU”. He looked at me almost confused and said he didn’t understand. Then I rattled off a list of questions, everything from his favourite colour to what he likes to watch on television. As he started to recall all the things in his life that he enjoyed – the things that truly defined him as an individual – there was a tremendous shift in his focus. His focus went from “anxiety” to “me” – almost instantly he was reminded of a confident, empowered self that used to exist before anxiety started to dictate his life.
Having a moment of awakening like this can be extremely beneficial for recovery. One needs to harness this confidence and empowerment and apply it to further recovery over and over again. Anxiety disorders are a conditioning of sorts that may have taken years to get to the point where the client starts to seek help in recovery – therefore no one can expect recovery to happen in a short period of time. We have to learn to string together many moments like this before we can expect any lasting benefit.