I need some tools to help me manage my anxiety


“I need some tools to help me manage my anxiety.”

Us therapists hear this often.

I understand.  What I hear is “my anxiety is causing me difficulty and I want it to go away.”

What I want to elaborate on is the difference between tools and psychotherapy - or the relationship between them.

Most of us therapists certainly have tools that we suggest:  Breathing, mindfulness, stretching, journalling, tapping….

What I want to bring to consciousness however is the thinking in our language when we ask for tools.

I want a tool to fix my anxiety.

I want the anxiety to go away.

I want you to tell me what to do so the anxiety goes away.

I want to fix myself.

I want to change this part of myself.

The thinking focuses on one particular thing and, as western medicine has taught us to do, sends us to a professional to get the fix.

I think if all most of my clients wanted was the tools they could google them honestly.  Or get the Head Space app.

My question is - what is happening that you have so much anxiety?  

What is the tension in your life that is expressing itself as anxiety?

My assumption is that everything you are experiencing is meaningful.  It points us towards something important about you that needs expression or tending to.

Over time we will come to understand what the experience you are referring to as anxiety is expressing.  And we will understand it from the inside so that you have access to what it means. And perhaps you will come to care for it as I do.  And in the process of all of this it may well fall away…. Unneeded now that it is heard.

There is an objectification in the desire for tools.  You - therapist - give me tools so I can apply them to my self and fix myself.

Who are we?  Are we machines?  

Are we currency?  

Discrete parts that can be obtained?

The impact of our thinking is vast.  The weight of our language heavy.

When we objectify and machinize ourselves and others we perpetuate the harm we see everywhere, including to our planet.

Our unconscious participation in this pain can be brought to consciousness and healed.

Sometimes it is annoying when a therapist doesn’t answer a question directly.

And our profession is not a profession that serves what is requested.  Our profession is not a profession that maintains the status quo.

We ask you about the question so you can learn about yourself.  

We offer you a relationship and a conversation that is much more difficult and much much richer than a tool.

We offer you a way of being.  Not something we teach you but something that emerges between us.

Naturally.  Uniquely.

Discovering what this is is allowing you to bloom.

And when you bloom you are much much more than a machine.

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