February 22, 2018 | By More

What is it, how does it affect people, and what can you do if you suffer from anxiety? It’s interesting that as a youngster growing up, the term anxiety didn’t really exist. Certainly, the term social anxiety didn’t exist. Generalized anxiety and specific anxiety didn’t really exist. I wasn’t aware growing up in the 90’s of many people being on anti-anxiety medication, whereas now people are on anti-depressants. That’s another story for another day. But as far as I know, there weren’t many people suffering from anxiety or taking medication because it wasn’t really a diagnosed disorder then.

As I look at anxiety now, as a change worker (an agent of change) dealing with forms of anxiety for about 20 years, anxiety is not something that’s done to you. It’s not that somebody comes along and creates anxiety for you, it’s something that you do to yourself. There could be some people who may say, “Oh, I can’t believe you said that, Luke.” Why would I bring anxiety to myself? This doesn’t make any sense. “You’re out of your mind.” I’m not saying that you’re doing it consciously, and I’m not saying that you’re sitting around your house saying, “You know what, I’m going to make myself feel really bad today.” Therefore, I’m going explain the formula for anxiety for everyone from all walks of life.

This is how everyone experiences anxiety. It’s done very quickly. You go out to a future because you can only have anxiety for the future – you can’t have anxiety with things or events that happened in the past or for right now – it’s always future-based. Go out to the future to some event that hasn’t yet happened. Imagine it going poorly, come back towards now, bring all those uncomfortable feelings towards now and basically pre-ordain or set that compass inside to draw that to happen to you so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now you might say, “Well, why would anyone do it?” because it’s not something you do consciously or sit around thinking about, but that’s how people do it. They don’t do it like that – they do it faster than that – because I know people who have anxiety who do it really well so they could do it in a millisecond. They go from zero to a hundred.

Now you might ask, “Well, why? Why are we doing anxiety?” Every problem we have, overeating for example, causes depression. We have anxiety on some unconscious level. We’re getting what we call a secondary cane. We’re getting something from the behaviour. I’m not suggesting you know what that is or you’re sitting around concocting it. I’m not saying what there is, but on some level, you’re getting something from it; otherwise, the problem would cease to exist. It would almost be like being poor, having to pay the bills, having to make money to pay the bills, yet going to a job for 40 or 50 hours a week as a volunteer and never making any money. At some point, you’d have to stop and get a real job to pay your bills because you’re not getting any money. You’re getting something from your problem; otherwise, it would cease to exist. It’s not something you’re getting consciously; you’re probably not even aware of it, but on some unconscious level, you’re getting some kind of payback from it.

For some people, it might be that they get more attention from their family or their loved ones. They’re all there and they’re all anxious, saying, “Tell me about all your problems.” They start to feel significant because people start to listen to them. Perhaps they don’t have to work anymore so they don’t have that burden or perhaps they get a cheque from the government because they’ve been diagnosed with anti-anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I’m not saying these people don’t truly feel these things. Please understand that, but there’s that added benefit that they get to stay at home or they get sympathy from people or people look at them differently or people look at them as the anxiety people – that’s their significance in the world. One of their human needs is met just like that, just by having this disorder, and people start to look at them differently. I don’t know what it is for you, if you do suffer from anxiety, but it might be for one of those examples noted above or it might be for another reason.

When I work with people with anxiety, they want to tell me why they are anxious. I can always tell they’re anxious from the way they’re talking, and it starts to make me anxious. You can’t get sucked into that reality because here’s the thing: as a good change worker, I just need to know what your problem is. You suffer from the symptoms of anxiety, you suffer from the symptoms of depression, fear, or phobia or whatever it may be. However, I do not need to know necessarily when it started and I do not need to know what the event is. I’m not a counselor, a psychotherapist, or a psychiatrist; I don’t believe we need to go back to that memory. I don’t want you to tell me about it so you get traumatized and have to relive it over again by telling me about it three times a week for up to four years. As Sigmund Freud, the father of modern-day psychology, says, “Someone could see me three or four times a week for years, and I couldn’t even guarantee their problem would be lessened, let alone gone.” I work fast with people, I care that they’re hurting themselves, that they feel terrible and they want to stop. This is where I come in to help them stop. I just care about getting them to end their suffering so they can get on with their life and do whatever they want to do without this anxiety.

There are many different things you can do to deal with anxiety. Do I believe that talking about it repeatedly helps? Maybe 10 percent of the time it does, but oftentimes it just reinforces it over and over again. There are many different techniques you can use such as a kinetic shift technique, something that Kyle Smith, a famous hypnotist, uses, for example. Other powerful techniques include neuro-linguistic programming or hypnosis to really help people shift intense anxiety.

Here’s a story of an older client who came to me (name withheld for confidentiality) quite a while ago. He came into my office because for the last 20 years he’d been reporting that during the autumn and winter seasons when the nights started to get darker, out of nowhere, he had this cloud that essentially appeared – metaphorically. It stayed over his head and just made him feel really, really sad and also really, really anxious, and his sense of loss would take over him. There’s no logical reason for any of this. Nothing happened, yet this really bad feeling of anxiety and depression would be all mixed into one. His doctors had given him some medication, and as long as he used the medication, he was on a nice clean path.

However, the problem was that he didn’t want to take medication for the rest of his life. He’d been on it way too long and it was affecting him, quite frankly, sexually because he couldn’t perform anymore, and he just didn’t want to rely on medication. So, he came to see me. I don’t ever work with clients on medication because obviously I’m not a medical doctor, and I’m not here to dispense medical advice in any way, shape, or form. I asked him to discuss his problem with his doctor, and his doctor was happy to start to reduce his anxiety medication. He then booked eight sessions with me, even though I wasn’t sure how many sessions he would require. Eight sessions is a very, very extreme situation. We usually do things about this for two to four sessions, but I gave him the option, and he wanted to come and see me for eight, so I agreed.

He came into my office and the first session was for an hour. I did a technique with him and his anxiety disappeared. I set the anxiety off in the office because I wanted to see him go into his negative state. At the end, we knew it had worked because he wasn’t feeling that way anymore.

He came back a week later, and as I do with all my clients, I simply asked him, “So hey, how’s your last week been? What’s happened?” because all my sessions are based on finding out – getting a reality report from all my clients as to what happened between sessions. The pre-ordained notion of knowing exactly how my clients are feeling doesn’t unfold until they come in and report what happened over the past week.

This client said, “So I’m ready to go to step two with the anxiety – let’s go.”

I ask if it’s gone and he replies, “ Yeah, yeah it’s gone.” He reported that the strangest thing happened on that Friday at home after our session. “I couldn’t sleep that night. I was up the whole night, and all those triggers and memories that we discussed in the session with one another came up one after the other. I had no emotional reaction to them at all. Wow, isn’t that amazing?”

I responded, “Yeah, so what do you want to do with the next seven sessions?” I’ve never had a client pay to have a problem disappear who had been upset when it went away quickly; each client is always really happy to quickly get rid of it.

But with seven sessions left, he responds, “Well, you just reinforce this somehow.”

Absolutely,” I reply. “We’re going to do that anyway.”

Because he’s an Italian chef, he likes to eat too much bread and pasta. “So, can you do some work on this?” he asks.

I respond, “Yeah, but will you still be a true FBI, full-blooded Italian, if we get rid of your bread and pasta?”

And he laughed and said, “Yeah.”

I said, “Listen, I mean, is it something you want to reduce, or is it something you just want to stop completely because it’s a lot easier to stop doing something than it is to control it?”

He says, “Yeah, I’d actually like to stop it altogether.”


Stay tuned for the second part next week. 

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Always Believe, 

Luke Michael Howard, Ph.D

Clinical Hypnotist


Category: Articles, Health & Natural Therapies

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