Where there is Anxiety, Fear is not far behind.
The Fear and Anxiety duo is the equivalent of a snare trap. Imagine you are in a room and you want to be in the room. You may have an impending Fear lingering on the other side of the door, but so long as you want to stay in the room, you’re fine. So long as you conform and obey, everything is fine. The problem comes when you desire something outside of our proverbial room.
When you want to do something, but Fear is in your way, anxiety develops. To be more precise, when you want something, but you believe pursuing that what you want will bring out a circumstance or consequence that you are afraid of, then anxiety develops. So you choose the Fear over the Desire.
Now, you feel trapped. Anxiety is the building pressure between what you want and what you Fear. The only way out of Anxiety, is through the Fear in pursuit of what you want.
Addiction and Guilt
This is where those who avoid conflict through avoidance find temporary comfort in Addiction. The Addiction not only provides the temporary comfort desired… but they also get a shot of “faux-emotion” to supplement what they desire. As a result, Addiction provides a brief escape from the anxiety and a quick-fix to the problem with minimal energy spent.
Our system is hardwired to preserve energy. It takes very little time for our Subconscious to replace Addiction for the real thing.
But for those of us who don’t seek Addiction or Avoidant behaviors, we sit in Anxiety that just builds. The desire stays. The Fear grows. The room gets smaller. The Anxiety grows. Anxiety turns into panic attacks and the feeling of being trapped continues while those who seek to escape and avoid find consolation in the Addiction Cycle.
The only way out is through. There truly is no other way.
Breaking the Cycle
The first problem many people encounter is not knowing exactly what they want or not knowing exactly what they fear. In many of my articles about the Subconscious, I talk a lot about all the great lengths the subconscious will go through to protect the conscious mind from re-traumatization. The subconscious will lie to you, hide things from you, and wipe your memory clean all to prevent you from seeing what it is you’re afraid of.
To determine what you are afraid of, begin with a conversation with your Subconscious. Sooth your Subconscious, and reassure your Subconscious, telling it that whatever it is afraid of is not nearly as bad as it thinks it is. In soothing the Subconscious, yes soothing… and yes, it works… When you soothe the Subconscious, you talk to the Subconscious and you validate the fears, which calms the Subconscious and lowers the defenses that are activated to protect you.
Another way to determine what you want and what you are afraid of is to do the thing that you are most avoiding. By doing, the urge to run or react or avoid the Fear will grow stronger until, eventually, you will be able to identify what it is you fear.
Once you are able to confront your fear, embrace the worst case scenario. Truly. What is the worst thing that could happen? Sit with this for awhile. Accept that the worse case scenario will happen, then proceed anyway. By exposing yourself to the situation you fear, your subconscious will learn that what it feared was not actually anything to be afraid of.
But Wait… Proceed with Caution
Now… before you run in and expose yourself to your fear, re-traumatization is a very real thing. You must decide if the fear you are avoiding is a PTSD trigger, and if you are ready to confront this fear, or if you the fear is imaginary and blown out of unrealistic proportions by your Subconscious. If you are not aware of what the actual fear is, then the real question is why is your Subconscious keeping it from you?
Occam’s Razor says that your Subconscious is protecting you from what it perceives as a danger. The question is, is the danger real, or is the danger from an old memory? Without knowing your exact situation, it’s not something I can just plug in via an article.
If the danger is real, then the anxiety of being trapped reflects a serious situation. Are you in a bad situation? Do you regularly fear for your life? What things can you do to prove to yourself that you are safe? That you do have the Power of Choice.
If the danger is not real, but your Subconscious thinks it is too soon to address the trauma, then Shadow Work is required before your can confront the fear or prove to yourself (and your Subconscious0 that you do have the Power of Choice.
If the danger is not real and you are ready to address the trauma, then it should be safe to proceed.
Allow yourself to argue and debate with your Subconscious why the object of fear is something to be afraid of. In some cases, the reason is silly or ludicrous and you may find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of it. In other cases, you may dig out an old wound not yet confronted that may leave you emotional. This response, when handled properly is healthy.
Parental Love and Fear of Pursuing Our Desires
In many cases, the fear is old and is often tied into our parent’s love.
For example: You want to pursue a job, but deep down, you know it is not the job your parents want for you. Maybe your very kind and loving parents boasted often about how you were so smart that you were destined to be a lawyer or a doctor, which you then obediently pursued to make them proud.
But deep down, you desire a different career path. The fear is a loss of your parent’s acceptance or love. So your Subconscious associates what you want (a different career path), with losing your parent’s acceptance or love. So you stay where you are. Now… you feel trapped, and the anxiety begins.
The feeling you crave may be financial security or job recognition… maybe even the feeling of being true to yourself. You may find an addiction that provides you with a temporary similar feeling of financial security or job recognition, which may become a source of relief from the Addiction.
In the end, until you confront the feeling you wish to pursue… until you confront and identify the thing you truly desire and the fear that prevents you from pursuing what you want, the Fear-Anxiety Cycle or the Fear-Anxiety-Addiction-Guilt Cycle will not end.
The goal is to prove to your conscious mind and to your Subconscious that you in fact do have the Power of Choice. Find a way to prove that you have the Power of Choice, and you end the feeling of being trapped with no choice or control over your life.
The Power of Choice
The Power of Choice, often referred to as “The Power” or “The Control” is the abstract concept that arrives with your birth and immediately passes over to your parent or caregiver. In a healthy environment, the parent or caregiver nurtures your Agency while they give your Power of Choice back to you in small doses, usually in your teen years and in proportion to your maturity levels and growth.
In controlling environments, the parents or caregivers not only suppress your Agency, but they also withhold the Power of Choice well into adult hood. This begins a Power Struggle often seen between adult children who can never seem to earn the respect from their parents who never seem to see their adult children as nothing more than toddlers or rebellious teens.
Abusive partners or spouses may also keep the Power of Choice from you, providing you with a sense of familiarity, thereby making you feel comfortable by not having any Power of Choice.
In most cases, this leads to adults who often feel trapped in the Fear and Anxiety cycle.
Do not be surprised if the Fear you are avoiding is simply an old power struggle between you and your parents.
Anxiety from Loss of Control
In other scenarios, multiple and highly stressful situations that bombard you without end also can result in you feeling like you lack the Power of Choice to end the barrage of bad situations. Your car broke down, you lost your job, your spouse divorced you, your children now hate you, your grandparent passes away, and your dog dies all within a few months… It is very normal to feel like you have no control, you lack escape, and the ability to choose your own life is inaccessible at this point. Anxiety is now a frequent visitor. Panic attacks are likely.
In this case, fear is not present, but the same feeling like you lack no control leaves you feeling trapped in the present with insurmountable grief and loss… it’s enough to send anyone spiraling into weeks or months of panic attacks.
The solution in this case is not confronting a fear, but learning how to process grief and piling on as much Self-Care as possible while you learn to balance grief with Self-Care and Self-Compassion. Grief is a long and difficult road where much of our loss is invalidated.
If you are experiencing Panic Attacks, talk to your doctor. Seek out Meditation. Meditation and taking time to Find the Breath is a solid place to start.
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