Emotions that create unpleasant feelings are often labelled “negative emotions.” Generally, people want to avoid them, push them away, or silence them as soon as they pop up.
The thing is that each emotion has its own role and purpose.
We have the ability to experience a wide range of emotions, from “feeling great” to “dreadful“. Every single emotion within this range has a role, and gives us important information about ourselves and our environment. For example, fear warns us about potential danger, anxiety can indicate insecurities or unpreparedness, anger can signal that someone or something has crossed the line. The emotion itself is not the issue. The difference between moving on or getting stuck hinges on how we deal with this information. You can’t always change what’s happening to you, but you can decide how you act. In some cases, we confuse the emotion with the issue that generated it. We focus so much on the messenger that we don’t deal with the problem.
Let me explain by comparing anxiety with a fire alarm.
If your fire alarm was triggering every half an hour, the first thing you would do is check for an actual fire. If you find one, you deal with it; the alarm has done its job. If you can find any fire or smoke, you would then assume that there’s an issue with the detector itself. You would want someone to inspect it, fix it or reset it for you. Maybe, while doing the work, the maintenance engineer will discover that the alarm is fine and that there is a genuine issue (carbon dioxide build-up, the flat below you is on fire, your house is built on top of a volcano, etc…). You can then deal with that and move on. Again, the alarm has done its job. Maybe the fire alarm is too sensitive and needs to be reset to more a reasonable threshold. Problem solved.
The issue is that many people are stunned by the alarm, spend too much time trying to muffle the noise or learn to cope with the noise. They forget to check for the potential cause. In the meantime, the house is now burning more and more, or they are suffering for no good reason. Day after day, they are deafened by the alarm, they can’t think straight and it makes everything more difficult.
They are now a victim of a FAD. Fire Alarm Disorder.
It’s a similar thing with anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is normal, useful even. The problem is when something goes wrong and it becomes a disorder.
When you visit a therapist about an anxiety disorder, we check what is going on, just like the alarm maintenance engineer would. The therapist helps you assess what is really going on. You can then deal with the source of the problem if it’s relevant, or learn how to reset your alarm.
Even if you have been suffering from it for a long time, the “maintenance job” can be quite fast, and you will then have an opportunity and time to heal. Just like if you suffered from a deafening alarm, you might need a bit of time to get your hearing back.
So no matter how long you’ve been suffering, call us now to book a long overdue service.