top of page

You don't have an anxiety disorder

The term 'anxiety disorder' gets banded around a lot. I feel it's pretty misleading and can actually keep you locked in the belief that there is something seriously wrong with you if you experience anxiety regularly. Here's why:

Firstly, let's look at the definition of what a disorder is.

"An illness of the mind or body" (Cambridge)

"An illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions" (Oxford)

But anxiety is NOT an illness. Anxiety is a normal, healthy response. We all need to be able to feel anxiety - it keeps us safe from situations that could be harmful, right?

Anxiety stems from our thoughts. Purely from what we are thinking about a particular situation.

It's just that when we dwell too long or too much on an unhelpful thought it can morph into a big, scary thought very easily! And that big, scary thought begins to hang around and consume more and more of our headspace. Very soon we have conditioned ourselves to think of that situation in an anxious way. So whenever we think of it, our unconscious mind reminds us in a very powerful way, by producing the symptoms of anxiety - shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, sweating etc.

And because our minds are pattern-matching machines, whenever it notices another situation that could be even remotely similar, it triggers the same response by causing that fight or flight response to kick in again. This is how anxiety grows and spreads to other areas of our life, causing us to feel a loss of control over what we are feeling. As an example, a recent client I worked with had a fear of flying, but it had mapped across to other forms of travel. All because of one unhelpful thought that had grown too much for her to control consciously.

So the problem with anxiety is not anxiety itself. The problem lies in when it gets triggered for no good reason. And it gets triggered because you thought an unhelpful thought and it was given the space to grow into a big, scary one.

That is not an illness, it's not a disorder. That is your mind doing what it thinks it needs to do to keep you safe. It's doing exactly what it should!

So here's where I come in. When those big, scary thoughts have grown too big, I can help you reprogram your response so it no longer bothers you. I can help you learn how to react more appropriately to your thoughts, to become aware of them, to challenge them and decide which ones you are going to put your attention on. Which ones you want to grow and which ones you want to let pass on by. And yes, I can teach you breath work and grounding tools and techniques - but that's a bit like putting a sticking plaster on top. I want you to be equipped with the knowledge of how to help yourself in future, so things never get out of hand again.

You're not ill. Your mind is doing its very best to protect you with the information you are feeding it. You're not an anxious person. You're not even a person who has anxiety. You are a person who is DOING anxiety.

So when you experience anxiety remember this: it all stems from your thoughts, and no thoughts are permanent. You can return to that underlying state of peace that we are all born with, but you may need some help to do this.

What thought is causing you to feel anxious today?

Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page