Have you ever thought that maybe the reactions we like the least about ourselves – anxiety, fear, shame, quick temper, to name but a few – could actually be of benefit to us? What I mean is, perhaps these often unpleasant-to-experience emotional states, could in fact, be a sort of alarm system for us. When we feel those feelings, maybe we need to take a look at what we are doing in the moment that is bringing up those emotions.

Let me give a little example…I have this wonderful patient that I have been working with for the past year. (He knows I’m writing this about him, without revealing his identity.) He’s one of those people that when he sets his mind to something, he gets it done. He’s been anxious much of his life. It’s been an automatic response. When something he doesn’t like occurs, he tends to get anxious about it, feeling a loss of control. We’ve been working on some physical symptoms that he’s been experiencing and looking at them as things that just “are.” He began to learn to examine his response to these symptoms and in particular, he began to examine the perspective he was taking. Soon he noticed, he would still get anxious initially in response to the symptom, but with awareness, he was able to look at why he was worried, come up with a plan to deal with it, and soon enough the anxiety would go away. He began to see that the problems that made him anxious were problems that did need solving, but the anxiety made the problem bigger rather than smaller. Once he learned to recognize his anxiety, he was able to tap into his intuition about what he needed to do, he was able to solve the problem, and ultimately he was able to feel better faster. He realized that while he still had some anxiety, once he became aware of it, he was able to use it as a cue to solve a problem that needed solving. His anxiety was no longer “bad”, instead it became a valuable tool that helped him recognize when there was work that needed to be done.

So, what do you think? What are your “alarm bells” telling you?

Be happy and well,

Sari Roth-Roemer