Updated: Apr 13, 2020
I said at the start that I personify anxiety a lot. Why? Because, to me, it makes sense to turn anxiety into an actual tangible 'thing'. If you think about it, anxiety is an emotion. It's also a reaction, known as the fight-or-flight response. We all have it. It's an extremely useful tool we possess in situations where we need it most. For instance, in the face of a perceived threat, such as riding a rollercoaster.. or climbing the Eiffel Tower when you're afraid of heights.. or power walking down the street when we're afraid of the dark. All are necessary adrenalin rushes.. you get my drift. In anxiety sufferers this response is unjustified a lot of the time. And that is because we are super sensitive to feelings and emotions. Sometimes without even being conscious of it. Anxiety turns up at the most inconvenient time. Like an unwelcome, unscheduled visitor! And that is why I like to personify. Because if I don't, it manifests into an entity that engulfs me. And we don't want that, do we?
Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not asking you to create an imaginary frenemy (I suppose I am in a way) or conjure up voices. Far from it. What I am suggesting is to 'put it in a box'. That 'box' can be whatever you want it to be. An animal, a person, a cartoon character, a monster, whatever you would imagine it to be if it were an object. Mine is a girl. She's skinny with dark, straggly hair and menacing eyes. She has no colour, just black and white. When she turns up, I often let her have her 5 minutes of fame and then tell her in no uncertain terms to get back in her box! This goes on in my mind most of the time. But if she's in a particularly annoying mood, I tell her out loud! She's done enough damage for one day! She has her own set of emotions too. She's defeated when I tell her to get lost. She's laughing when she is making my life hell at that moment. She sulks when she loses the battle with me - this is usually when I'm far too busy to deal with her! She's an attention seeker!
You might think I sound cuckoo. I get it. I felt like I was a bit crazy at the time. But on the contrary, I feel more normal now than I did when I didn't give anxiety an identity.
I started to do this a while ago and it has definitely made her easier to manage. An extract from a post I wrote on my Facebook page is a better example of what I mean:
14th January 2019
"My anxiety has tried to rear her head, particularly last night. She tried to convince me there was something wrong and I believed her for a short while. Until I decided to let her have her fun and not give her the attention she so desperately craves! I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be her host. But I will not succumb to her demands. I’m the boss. Not her! I will sap all of the negative energy she tries to flood my mind with and I will turn it into fuel for my success in overcoming her devious plans to take over my life!"
Does that make more sense?
So to summarise, personification of anxiety works for me. It helps me separate myself from my anxiety. Sometimes she wins. Sometimes she doesn't. It's not a miracle fix and it won't guarantee results for everyone. But it's a technique that I employed over a year ago and although she tries to dominate, she fails more than she succeeds.
Give it a whirl. It's controversial but you never know...
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