Did you know that anxiety is a type of anchor? It is a mental anchor, which is associated with the unwanted feelings caused by memories or events that have caused us distress in our past. So, whenever something happens in the present that might remind us of those feelings, our anxiety anchor is quick to act. It is trying to protect us from harm, by stopping us from entering situations which might trigger them. We all have many anchors associated with memories and events throughout our lifetime.
On your journey through life, you set your sail and determine your course. But the wind blows, and at times it can alter your direction, take you into choppier waters or storms. There may be obstacles in your way. These may be things that are not in your control. And you can either try to beat them, or work with or around them. But you are the Captain of your ship. You can choose to put down anchor and weather the storm, risk being beaten by it. You could change tack and head for sunnier waters. You might send out a distress signal and hope that someone notices. We put out distress signals as adults sometimes. These signals may show in our anxiety, or depression. But children do it a lot... their distress signals flare up as challenging behaviour!
When anxiety is alerted it sets off a chain reaction, triggering your Flight, Flight or Freeze Response. The Panic Button Alarm alerts your emotions of worry, fear and panic. They want to get your attention, to alert you to the perceived threat. So, your emotions become bigger in order to get you to react. And this is all very well if there really is danger and you do need to Fight a band of pirates or Flee from a sabre-toothed tiger or other such threat. I’m not sure what good the Freeze option would be in these circumstances, but that’s another story.
But when this happens, and there is not any real emergency or life-threatening danger, anxiety does not know this and is programmed to react anyway. And you will feel all this rush of emotion and stress.
In the Ollie Coaching model, we give all our feelings and emotions a persona, or name them. We explain that anxiety is your ‘lookout’. I imagine my ‘lookout’ or ‘anxiety’ as a little chap with binoculars or a telescope, who sits up in the crows-nest of my ship, looking out for danger. Your lookout is very good at his job! He or she will spot dangers for miles around and will alert you to them.
It doesn’t matter who your “Anxiety’ is, or how you picture him or her. He may be the Captain of your ship, the Captain of your sports team. He could be your ‘James Bond’, your ‘Superwoman’, a lookout, a personal bodyguard or just an ordinary name that you assign to this emotion. Whoever you picture, anxiety is just your ‘instinct’, ‘6th sense’, ‘gut reaction’ or anxiety!
You need him, or her, to alert you to possible danger or unwanted feelings. He or she is only a small part of you. And when anxiety reacts to something, you should acknowledge him, thank him for his help and concern and then take over from him. Anxiety is just an emotion, a feeling, a ‘lookout’. So why let him anchor you to the spot, keeping you controlled by panic, fear or worry about a situation. He is your Fight, Flight and Freeze Response and is only there to hit the panic button to raise the alarm, to alert you. He is not able to work things out logically or calmly as you and your logical brain can.
Anxiety can be calmed. If you know how. And talking to this part of you is a really great way to do this.
Anxiety anchors, associated with subconscious feelings and memories, can be loosened and moved. If you are shown the tools and techniques to enable you to do this.
Better, more positive anchors can be found and put in place. If you get the right help to guide you.
Different ways of thinking and approaching things can make a huge difference to an outcome.
But sometimes it is difficult to control anxiety. It can be very persistent and may overcome you. Keep you anchored to the spot. You may need to call for help. Allow a someone with a different viewpoint, different experience or different tools to help you control your ‘lookout’
Sending out a mayday call or a cry for help is not in any way an admission of failure.
It is a well-considered action. After all, we are not all experts in all areas of everything in life. So, find someone who can help.
This is what ‘Ollie Coaches’ do. We help you to be the Captain of your ship and be in control of your anxiety and your emotions.
We don’t fix your ship. - It isn’t broken!
We don’t show you the way or make judgements or decisions for you.
We don’t give you our advice.
But we do help you to find your way, we show you where to find the advice you need from within, because only this advice will be the right advice for you. We help you to take control of your ship and your ‘lookout’. We give you tools and techniques to make sailing your ship easier, steering you towards being the best you can be.
And then, after a short while, we watch as you sail off on your chosen course, calmly and in control, without the need for further help, as you now have all the tools in your own toolbox, a less anxious lookout that you can manage, and an exciting voyage ahead.