Anxiety is Not An Emotion
Yesterday, I read a post about emotions being neutral, a concept to which I also subscribe, and recently wrote about.
The post mentioned how if you observe emotion without judgment, the emotion passes, or transforms into something else. Someone made a comment on the post regarding anxiety. She mentioned that she lived with anxiety for years, and it never passed or transformed into something else.
Since this was a random social media post that I was reading, I didn’t engage with her comment. But, I thought it might be helpful for me to share some things here.
The reader referenced anxiety as if it was an emotion. Anxiety is not, in and of itself, an emotion.
From my perspective, anxiety is a result of suppressed or repressed emotion.
It might be an acute emotion, or a build-up over time.
Now, hear me out, because you might be thinking, “hold on now, I’m not suppressing anything. I’m super emotional.” It is, indeed, possible to be both emotional and also be suppressing, or repressing, certain emotions, simultaneously.
Suppression is when we are conscious about something, but push it down, in order to cope. Repression is when we are not conscious about something. Most of us both suppress and repress experiences, and the subsequent emotions that arose, in response to those experiences.
Since, feelings are non-linear, they have this annoying thing they do—they can surface WAY after the fact.
Because of this, we no longer have a connection to the source of the emotion. So, instead of understanding that our body is just doing something beneficial and clearing out an old, unprocessed emotion, we get frustrated—thinking that our soul is betraying us with these intense feelings, and instead, we continue to suppress the feelings.
Or, sometimes the original experiences and feelings are so repressed, that we cannot even recognize them as feelings when they finally do emerge. They just feel like an unsettled state of being.
When the feelings are suppressed, or repressed, they do this other thing, that affects our nervous system—they hover.
So, again, think of it like the emotions are seeking movement—an outlet. And when there is no outlet, they cannot move, so they hover, under the surface.
When they become stagnant, we experience this energy as depression. When the emotional energy is actively pushing against our psyche, we experience this as anxiety.
So, what do we do about it?
We go full circle back to the original statement I mentioned. We work on releasing judgment of emotions, so that we can begin to give ourselves permission to feel everything.
Not just the stuff that you think is appropriate or comfortable.
Under the surface are usually the feelings that you, or others, have judged: fear, shame, anger, jealousy.
Once you begin to understand that none of these feelings were ever bad, they were simply messengers of unmet needs, you begin to allow the feelings to flow.
Yes, you may need some friendly, or professional, support with this process. And yes, this process falls into the category of simple, but not easy.