Anxiety Has a Right to Exist

Anxiety Has a Right to Exist

The above photo portrays a typical human response to anxiety: trying to tune it out, in this case quite vigorously!

Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes, some of us more than others.  Many advocacy groups as well as pharmaceutical companies would like us to pathologize anxiety, assuming that it is something “wrong,” “bad,” or “abnormal.”

So You Have Anxiety, Now What?

Of course, if anxiety appears to be causing us great and unremitting suffering, or appears to be blocking us from doing what we want to do in life, then professional help of some sort is likely needed.

What is probably not needed, though, is what we usually instinctively engage in: an all-out assault on the anxiety, with an aim to “kill” or squash it.

Ask yourself:

  • Have such attempts to destroy or obliterate your anxiety been successful in the past?
  • Have they been fun, rich or added to your life?
  • Have they in fact led to more problems, rather than fewer, and fewer meaningful events in life, rather than more?

Anxiety is a basic human emotion and it has a right to exist.  How would you like it if someone tried to squash YOU?  Wouldn’t you fight back?  That’s what anxiety, or any other emotion does, when we try to squash it.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy teaches us to live in peace with our emotions, and instead focus on our values, on what is most important to us, on what we want to do with our time on this planet.

If anxiety is allowed to exist, if we practice mindful willingness (also called “acceptance”) with it, many things become possible for us that seemed impossible before.

Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?

Would you be willing to be anxious, if that meant that anxiety did not have to stand in your way anymore?

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Joseph Rhinewine, PhD. People collaborate with me to live life fully: with principle, passion and vigor. My expertise is providing and teaching Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an evidence-based, experiential and relational behavior therapy. I also apply Acceptance and Commitment processes to coaching those who wish to take their lives to a new level.

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