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Imagining your Way to Calm: Use the Power of Your Mind to Reduce Overwhelm

Some say anxiety feels like drowning,

others experience it as a dark cloud hanging over them,

some get the feeling as if the air is cut off their throat by a thick rope,

others feel a knot in the stomach, to begin with,

some describe a feeling of heaviness, like a stone,

others shiver like a leaf in a storm.

As you might notice there are so many images that could describe the same thing. Yet, it is experienced in so many different ways. Some sound familiar, others completely outside of one's own scope. We all have our very personal metaphors of how we would communicate certain feelings.

If asked, people find their individual descriptions, images that pop into the mind, maybe in combination with memories of something, analogies. It is your unconscious mind finding its language in the outside world.

Anxiety is not driven by the conscious mind. No one decides to get anxious, now or maybe later, or maybe only tomorrow or next week. It happens, when it happens and we experience it as if it is happening to us. Our body and mind are working perfectly together to protect us from danger and keep us sane and happy. And so they are acting FOR us, not TO or AGAINST us. When people feel anxious, they get ready for survival and to get out of the situation they are in.

There was a time in your life your unconscious mind learned to keep you away from certain situations that have caused you discomfort, embarrassment, or stress. Some might even experience themselves frozen in avoidance of anything in their current life, which could cause that feeling. Anxiety wins, and our unconscious mind found its way to keep us alive.

So when anxiety is run unconsciously, how can we learn to influence it? There are a lot of possibilities to choose from. Learning breathing techniques to signal calm! NO DANGER! can be part of them.

And you can take it further by communicating with your unconscious mind in the way it communicates with you and finds images and stories to tell you, how anxiety feels like.

So, when you begin to feel anxious, or you remember an event you felt anxious at, what is it like for you?

You can close your eyes and see what images or symbols pop up if you were to describe your feeling. And when you found something, you could ask yourself:

What would I need now to:

blow that dark cloud away,

calm down the storm the leaf is shivering in,

get my head above the water,

release the knot in the stomach,

or what has to happen in order to change whatever it is.

Find images and symbols, stories and metaphors that could serve as a means to be the antidote to the feeling you have. Close your eyes, if they are not closed anymore, and imagine doing exactly what has to be done.

Play with it and allow yourself to get creative. Notice how much better you feel.

Christine Philipp


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