By Linda K. Laffey, MFT
Anxiety often serves as a secondary emotion, which means it surfaces in place of another emotion. Most of the time, this occurs because the real emotion is too challenging to face. Or, it’s merely a cover-up for a more complex feeling.
For example, you might genuinely feel lonely, confused, or disappointed, but it manifests as anxious feelings. No matter what emotion you authentically experience, it’s not uncommon for anxiety symptoms to show up. Thus, you might seem confused about what you’re honestly feeling.
Little by little, anxiety becomes your default emotion, and it’s hard to feel anything else. Of course, this pattern can cause significant distress and upheaval in your life.
Here’s how therapy can help to end the anxiety cycle, creating more calm moments for you to enjoy.
Learn to Understand Yourself
The cycle of anxiety becomes more forceful; the less you know yourself. It works like a storm hovering over the ocean. If left unchecked by rocky cliffs and hills, it can cause substantial damage to anything in its path.
When it comes to your mind, anxiety is the storm, spinning emotions out of control. Natural storms are so threatening, because they’re often unpredictable. When anxiety masks true feelings, it can seem just as unpredictable.
It’s best to get to know your emotions to help you battle this mindset of uncertainty. Ask yourself how you feel, and practice naming that emotion. Explore what you’re feeling rather than settling on anxiety as a default. Not only will this approach take the force out of the anxiety storm, but it’s also a significant step toward emotional intelligence.
Instead of merely accepting anxious feelings as what you’re genuinely experiencing, therapy helps you to challenge those emotions. Your therapist will guide you in ways to dig a little deeper. The more you learn to identify your feelings, the less power anxiety has over you—and the less damage it can do.
Pinpoint Disguised Feelings
As mentioned, anxiety often serves as a masquerade for other feelings. The top three feelings that individuals tend to mask are anger, guilt, and grief. However, we cover up many other emotions as well.
Therapy can help you to identify those masked feelings. What’s more, though, therapy works to uncover the origin of those disguised emotions. You can explore the reasons why you feel the way that you do. In short, therapy provides a safe and secure place for emotional exploration.
Understanding your emotions and why you feel them are two vital steps to reclaiming your calm. Therapy focuses on teaching you how to accomplish both tasks. Once you’ve unveiled and faced underlying emotions, anxiety has far less room to show its ugly head.
Embrace Tools for the Future
Once you learn more about yourself and can uncover what anxiety tries to hide, you’re well on your way to overcoming it. Therapy can offer you tools and teach you management skills as well.
From breathing techniques to finding healthy distractions, a therapist can instill profound confidence in you. Armed with tools for the future, anxiety will no longer work as your default emotion. Instead, you can genuinely experience your true emotions and manage the situation at hand with precision.
Therapy isn’t a magical cure, but it is a journey and a comforting pathway to wellness.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to create more calm in your life in place of anxiety, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT