The Gifts of Anxiety
Updated: Feb 18, 2018
One of the many reasons people work with me is to help them with their anxiety. Using the
techniques of energy therapy and coaching as well as the tools and practices of yoga, we explore ways to help manage anxiety more easily and effectively. Many times clients see
their anxiety as a burden and something that prevents them living a life they enjoy.
In our work together we discuss their individual concerns and how anxiety plays itself out in their lives. Many times we discover anxiety is information. It’s a tool that they can learn to work with so that they are able to more easily live a life they enjoy.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health anxiety affects over 40 million adults over the age of 18 or roughly 18% of the population. I recently read an article on social media from Curious Mind Magazine called The 4 Powers That May Be Hiding Behind Anxiety Disorders written by Simon Segal. It piqued my curiosity. The majority of my clients have mild to intense anxiety and over the years I’ve come to realize anxiety is information. It’s how you learn to manage your anxiety that it can be seen as a gift or as a challenge.Typically referred to as ‘fight or flight’ response, anxiety is one of our earliest mechanisms for survival.
Back in the day we used our sensing to help us intuit danger. People who have anxiety seem to be more in-tune with their bodies.They are more easily able to sense the energy of potential threats and danger their body and mind are communicating. In this way, I believe, it can be seen as a gift.
During my anatomy classes in my yoga teacher training we were taught that we have two minds, the body mind and the brain mind. The instructor talked to us about how the fight/flight response comes from the body and then communicates this information to the mind, not the other way around. The body mind is always communicating information to us while we tend to listen with our brain mind.
How many times have we heard the phrases “trust your gut” and “I feel butterflies in my
stomach” or how about, “what’s your gut telling you?” These are phrases that help us connect with those anxious feelings. They help us remember to listen to what the body is trying to say. The gift of anxiety is to pay attention, get ready to stay and fight, or run to safety.
As a young school-age child I found myself in a dangerous situation with a stranger. I’ll never forget the feeling of butterflies in my stomach and my mind shouting at me to “get out!” I was in danger! I knew I had to be clever and quick. As a child my ability to listen to what my body and mind were communicating to me saved me from physical harm. Too many times we ignore the information communicated to us from our bodies and go straight to our heads instead.
One of the things I found interesting in this article is the author pointed out that people with anxiety tended to constantly obsess over how other people feel. I couldn’t help but wonder whether this obsession is actually a heightened empathic ability.
As I read I found myself nodding in agreement based on what I see with my clients. One of the things I also notice with people who have anxiety is the ability to have a lot of empathy but also the ability to take on the emotional energy of others. Taking on the emotional energy of others can be very draining and make us feel ill or hesitate to be in the world because we feel too sensitive.
When working with clients who are highly empathic, I teach them that taking on the emotional energy of others is not ours to do. We do not have permission from that person to take on their suffering and we need to allow them to navigate their feelings. Together we
explore what they can do, which is to learn to use their gift of heightened empathy, to “see" that someone is struggling and
come up with ways that they can communicate support for others. Then they can avoid taking on energetically someone else’s struggles which reduces their own anxiety.
One of the other points brought up in the 4 powers article is that people with anxiety “seem to be able to sense lower levels of energy like negativity, and tend to want to avoid social situations because of their ability to read people’s energy.” While I have seen and experienced that statement, I would also add that people with anxiety not only sense lower levels of energy but they also sense the higher energy levels of people who are positive and outgoing. Feelings of anxiety and excitement are experienced the same in the body how we interpret it in our mind and in our body is what makes us react positively or negatively.
In my work over the past 14 years I have learned that many people with anxiety have strong abilities to read the energy of other people. It seems possible that a person’s heightened anxiety and sensitivities are the result of something they may have witnessed or experienced in the past which activated their higher sensing abilities. They experience this as anxiety. Working together with my clients, they learn how to reduce their anxiety by being grounded and centered. They practice how to connect with themselves on an energetic level physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Knowing what your energy feels like is the first step in recognizing when you’re letting in another’s energy. Learning to “see” how a person is feeling without taking on their energy will significantly reduce your anxiety and allow you to be supportive in a more healthful way.
For more information about Deana Downs Integrative Healing, or to schedule a session please visit my website: www.deanadowns.com