Hate Anxiety? Love It Instead

The Tiger of emotion or fear only bites when you run from it or try to cage it. Set it free.~ Kari Hohne, Cafe Au Soul

I’m in my 48th year on planet Earth, and anxiety has been something I have spoken and written about a lot over the course of this blog (and in my podcast). When I was younger, I would push away anxiety with drugs, alcohol, or food. Anything that was a distraction. At school, I just remember living in fear almost every day. I didn’t know how to handle anxiety or what it meant for me. And after much self-reflection, I realised that I can’t run away from anxiety or fear because in the very running or pushing away it feels and becomes larger and louder for me. I suspect this happens to most people who have a heightened sense of the world around them and inside them.

It feels to me that people who suffer with anxiety more consistently probably never had a feeling of safety in their childhood. Perhaps they were abused physically or psychologically, or their parents were unstable, and we grew to not know when things would be alright in our world. For me, also feeling very empathic towards the world around me, I sensed since early childhood other people’s feelings, and even if words said differed, if the energy from someone didn’t match what they said, it made me feel unsafe. My mother suffers from anxiety, and I think my dad did too. I witnessed extreme worrying and panic at the slightest change as a child that was out of their control. I learned to fear the outside world, especially people.

In primary school, I remember the first time I shared my skills in art, and my favourite teacher praised me in front of the class. I remember feeling my eyes dart around the room, almost like an antenna looking for hostility or a lack of safety, and I found it. I could feel the early stirrings of envy when I revealed the best of me, and so I learned early on, from school and more powerfully from how my mother envied me, to dim my light and to always be on the lookout for tigers and lions around every corner.

This left me living a life of consistent fear, and it takes time to feel safe. I’m still working on this after 48 years. I feel a lot safer in myself now, but still, when with other people, I can be in a state of social anxiety, on high alert, or ready to defend myself in some way.

Why Anxious?

Anxiety can be social, or we can also feel anxious about simply living. We may fear the future more than your average person, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is why it is important to discover core beliefs we may harbour that have been unconscious for most of our lives. I worked through Teal Swans completion process and do parts work. By doing this, I found out I was trained to have expectations of the worst, and I realised the programming I had received as a child made me feel that insecurity was actual security and that I didn’t feel safe to feel happy, joyful, or calm because when I was happy, I didn’t get the love I needed. I did when I was sad, scared, or upset in some way.

Changing this programming is so important, as is simply validating the fear when it arrives at our door. Instead of pushing away, we move towards the scary tiger, even going so far as to allow the tiger to have its way with us and eat us. When anxiety arises, it can be easy to punish, to judge, and to be self-critical. We feel broken or wrong inside and feel frustrated that we just can’t get rid of it or feel at peace inside. Yet what we find is that as we turn to face the tiger and hold it in a space of love and care, the tiger calms down without us even trying to make it so. The tiger just wants stroking, wants some attention, and wants space to be seen and heard.

We may then find that the tiger isn’t a tiger at all; instead, the tiger is a child inside of us that is still living as that small, scared child. To the child, it never grew up; nothing changed. As far as the child knows, it still lives in the past with parents who didn’t know any better or how to nurture its growing creativity or help it grow and bloom. Anxiety is the child we may have tried to disown and push away; it has been crying out for our love and care all this time.

Anxiety And Your Inner Child

Inner child healing is a very important tool in understanding where the anxiety comes from. My earliest fear memory probably comes from around age 2, when my mother turned to face the wall and pretended I didn’t exist. Other memories come from when my best friend at age 4 was taken away when her parents moved, and I never got to say goodbye or anything, and I loved her so much. All these little things add up, and we have many inner children in need of so much love and care. They want to be understood, and sometimes they may not be ready for a hug because they don’t trust us. We need to build that trust. Over time, we help show them that we live in a safer reality; we bring them into the present and show them our new world and how, as we grow up, we can take care of ourselves and take care of them too.

Does your tiger need to be embraced?


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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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