PREVIOUS: T.E..A. & Anxiety (#1)
1. T.E.A defined
2. Experiencing Anxiety
3. CHICKEN or EGG
Whether anxiety (physically & emotionally painful) has been a life-long companion, always in the background of everything you do, OR an occasional unexpected ‘visitor’, seemingly out of nowhere, two important questions come to mind:
Where is it coming from? // What can I do about it?
a. Not everyone is self-reflective. Most people go thru life ignoring or using other defense mechanism to sidestep emotional pain. If you’ve asked yourself these Qs, you get a shrug: ”I don’t know”. They’re just baffled & stay that way
b. Some see a connection between an event (action) & anxiety, but don’t know what it is, & attribute it to something that shows our imperfection:
— making a mistake, forgetting something, being late, saying the wrong thing, losing something valuable (even temporarily), making a fool of ourselves, failing at some effort…..
OR, more often something or someone outside of ourselves
— waiting for an important phone call, being called into the boss’s office, a break up, anticipating an attack or punishment, the death of a family member, someone important turning against us, being verbally attacked or accused wrongly, caught in a character defect …..
c. Emotionally oriented ACoAs feel the anxiety intensely, (possibly Enneagram 2, 4, 6 types, & anyone with a lot Water signs in their Astrological natal chart – Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces), but only then ‘hear’ obsessive thoughts – some call it “spinning” – & assume it’s a way to explain the emotional distress, after the fact.
Sensitive /emotional ACoAs may assume that a stressful situation (from self or others) generates anxiety, which CAUSES the spinning. obsessive thoughts, as a way of explaining it to ourselves. We may do this kind of endless ruminating:
— to beat ourselves up, taking on all the blame for a situation
— to identify how bad/weak/inadequate… we truly are & in what ways
— to figure out how to fix it, but from a narcissistic perspective (“It’s all about me!”), via people-pleasing, groveling, hiding out, being belligerent…. depending on our personal defensive style.
HOWEVER – the reality of our internal process is that, as adults, all our anxiety is the result of our harmful THINKING!
NOTE: We usually speak of T.E.A. in terms of what generates our behavior – that is – Thinking + Emotions = Actions.
➼ In this case, we start with what we are immediately aware of – the Emotion of anxiety – then work backwards to correctly find the cause:
Action + Thinking = Emotion
TOXIC anxiety: Here we always start with some action – most often our own, which we judge harshly (see Laundry List & list above), the harmful/ negative/ self-hating thinking about some ‘failure’ of ours in the present. Only then do we become overwhelmed by fear/ anxiety/ panic. OR it can come from someone else who is treating us the way our family did.
RULE: Our self-hating, narcissistic, paranoid beliefs ALWAYS PRECEDE anxiety. Many of us don’t know this because we:
— don’t notice what we are unconsciously saying to ourselves (CDs)
— don’t pay attention to the chatter in our head
— don’t realize it’s distorted alcoholic / co-dependent thinking
— don’t believe that most of it is just a bunch of dangerous LIES!
We just FEEL scared, worried, in danger!
• Yes, we do indeed carry with us piles & piles of old anxiety – from our traumatic, abusive, chaotic childhood. So, present-day distressing events – often beyond our control – can re-traumatize us, bringing to the surface long-held anxiety & panic from our past we may not even have known was there. It’s the intense terror we were subjected to on an almost daily basis as kids, which never got explained, not given comfort for, & then punished for if we cried or objected!
Those unresolved emotions are stored in our body as feeling memory – which need to be cried out & pounded out, as well as talked about with safe people.
• At the same time – we currently add emotional stress to our lives by many self-defeating actions & inappropriate relationships, but more commonly by continuing to believe the abusive messages we got at kids, which we hold as gospel truths!
ALWAYS remember that both accumulated fear & current anxiety come from our WIC (“If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”), who still believes & loyally agrees with the Bad Parent Introject’s messages.
If this wounded Child Ego State was in charge – then it could not have done anything differently! It’s not up the child part of us to know how to function in the world!, especially given out woefully inadequate upbringing. Rather, it’s our grown-up responsibility to develop a Healthy Adult & Loving Parent (the UNIT) who will be capable of acting in safer, more successful ways.
RECOVERY anxiety: some times anxiety (& guilt) will come any time we break family rules are we Heal & Grow, when taking better care of ourselves, when letting others be loving & kind toward ourselves, when changing our way of interacting with other in new positive ways…..
This anxiety is part of our earliest experiences, the WIC still believing/thinking: that we’ll be punished/beaten (again), that we’ll lose the love of our family, spouse boss, friends, children…., that we don’t deserve good things, that we’ll be all alone forever, that we’ll hurt other people… if we change our patterns & focus on taking care of ourselves!
PAY ATTENTION! Al-Anon’s 3 As starts with Awareness – so we need to stop & ask: “What is my WIC saying to itself about this situation?” // “How accurate is it?” // How do these ideas reflect my alcoholic family? // Do I need to check out my thinking with someone sane & trustworthy? // What would be a kinder, more loving way to think about what I did or didn’t do?
NEXT: T.E.A. & Anxiety (Part 3)