Joy Ignites Success

Drop the Anxiety Label

By - Wednesday, February 24, 2016


When I am working with a client it is not uncommon for me to ask what is happening in the body (probably because I am a body-oriented psychotherapist!). All too frequently, my client responds by saying “anxiety” or “stress”.
Anxiety is a label based on a past experience.  And most of the time, not a very useful label. Sure, it’s expedient (much like the word stress), but the ability to move through a feeling or sensation is not supported by calling it something. Quite the opposite. When you say you feel anxious (or stressed) there is immediate resistance to it and a desire to have a different experience. By resisting what’s happening, you are giving it energy (what we resist, persists).
Instead, when you are experiencing what you have historically identified as anxiety, try dropping the label and see what you are aware of in this moment. What sensations are occurring?

Is your breathing shallow? Is your heart racing? Sweaty palms? Negative thoughts? As you bring awareness to what is happening right now, you might notice something shift.  And shift is good; it means there’s movement. So watch the shift and see what comes next. You might notice that the sensations begin to lessen and thoughts become clearer. This is the first step towards being able to handle whatever is creating the distress.
Remember, your body is your friend. It is never intentionally hurting you. When you stop and listen to it, often sensations dissolve and wisdom arises. 

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Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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