Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"What is right with you?" Pt. 22: Now that I am in the anxiety, what now?

So now that I have decided to enter into these feelings, be open to and be subjected to all that I have been avoiding, what now?  If I allow myself to experience the tension of this, say a situation where I am afraid of being criticized, or making mistakes, or facing a task I am not very competent with, or just simply not knowing how to handle something I cannot control, what can I do?

Because we are so oriented towards taking a side to relieve the anxiety, whether it be to escape, make the other bad, make ourselves bad or any other such way of getting out of the tension, it is hard to be (t)here.  One thing that can help is to try to suspend our prejudgments that insist that the same thing will happen every time.  If we only see the same outcome with the same choices, we will be unable to create the space for any creative thinking to produce other perspectives, other possible solutions.  In short, we need to be able to experience the tension to get out of this trap and find the necessary space for creative thinking, new solutions, and new perspectives. Attempting to solve or work with the situation in the same old way, will only perpetuate the problem and convince us that life will, rather cynically, never change. So try to watch for how you re-create the same thing.  This will not help.

Thomas Ogden tells the story of a toddler who slipped in the bathtub and went under water, who was faced with his next bath.  Terrified, he grips his mother tightly and they are at a standstill. The choice seems to be drown or hold on very tight. The mother suggests a tea party and the toddler asks her to pour him some tea (with the bathtub toys) and slowly (albeit some time) the bath might be experienced in another way.  This infant metaphor is an important illustration for many transitions where anxiety is paralyzing, and how space needs to be explored to find a manageable and creative response to a situation where it has felt like there was no way to go...MY WEBSITE.

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