The presenting problem of clients who come to see me is often anxiety, seemingly. They meet the criteria for anxiety conditions and their thoughts and behaviours match those with anxiety trouble. But, here’s an important secret I need to share…anxiety is often the result of repressed emotions! An emotion is a physiological reaction to a situation or thought. If this physiological reaction (be it happiness, sadness, frustration or anger) is not expressed, our body will seek out another outlet. If you have decided that emotions are just too hard to deal with, your body will create anxiety to satisfy its need for release. Scientifically, emotions are supposed to last for a total of 2 minutes in your body. Two frikin’ minutes, people…no more, no less. Humans unfortunately become scared of emotions somewhere along the way and instead of letting them happen, we avoid them or push them away. This is very dangerous, folks. You are doing a lot of damage to your well-being with this foolishness.
Working on emotional expression with clients is sometimes difficult because chances are, if anxiety is has manifested, so has the repression of emotions. If your emotions are really buried, we will not be able to work on emotion expression. Instead, we will work on symptom management with CBT techniques. But if you, at least, have access to the fact that you repress emotions, we may be able to have some ‘fun’ and dig a little deeper.
I’m thinking about of my clients with severe anxiety. He has worked with other practitioners who have helped him decrease symptoms and feel better. However, he has never explored his emotions. My client initially came to see me with returning anxiety and insomnia. As early as our second session, we discovered the presence of anger towards his mom for her un-empathic and judgemental nature. Upon working through his anger and the unfinished business with his mother, he felt a world of better. He sent me a text the next day indicating that he slept for 9 hours straight that night (rest that he hadn’t had for over 2 weeks).
Folks, do not underestimate the power of the expressing your emotions! Let them out! Find a journal, find a friend…find a way.