Anxiety is overwhelm. Overwhelmed means we are full. This is physics as well as psychology. When we are full we are in danger of ‘drowning’, and thus ‘dying’.
No matter what they say in football about ‘giving it 110 per cent’ there is only 100 per cent and we are finite. We treat ourselves like planet earth. We treat earth as if it’s infinite when it is not. We use the year’s resources of earth by august each year. We do that to ourselves as well. The basic rule is we treat others, including the earth, the way we treat ourselves.
We can feel we can’t say ‘no’ or ‘enough’ to stop the drowning. As the saying goes ‘no is a complete sentence’. Ireland couldn’t say no to Germany during the bailout and now we are drowning in their banks’ debt and we have to bear that and the anxiety that goes with it.
We drown ourselves with the defence of rationalising. Rationalising is denial, our mind’s way of trying to convince us we are not drowning when we are.
But these thoughts are seeped in anxiety so they are anxious thoughts. These thoughts make us more anxious. This feeds into our body which shows the signs of panic – fast heart, shooting adrenalin, this makes the thoughts more anxious, faster and faster, in a loop. So thinking can be like throwing petrol on a fire to put it out.
As we are looking for safety, we have to imagine what is the worst thing that can happen here. But in imagining the worst possible scenario, we frighten the hell out of ourselves with that. In trying to make ourselves feel safer we are making ourselves more anxious. We are looking for safety we cannot find.
People come to therapy because they are full and drowning.