Anxiety creates many symptoms, both psychological and physiological. High blood pressure, irritable bowl syndrome, insomnia, obsessive worrying, and irrational thinking are but a few of the problems created and produced by anxiety. I have found in my work with clients that there are three symptoms in particular which anxiety loves to unleash. Anxiety is unquestionably the big boss, the Godfather (Don Corleone) who orders his three most lethal hit men to attack. (SEE BERMUDA TRIANGLE OF ANXIETY HANDOUT) Please click on Handout.
These three marauders are Self-Criticism, Why, and What-If. Self-criticism (Luca Brasi) reigns at the top of the triangle, leading both Why and What-If into battle. I always tell clients at some point during the first session how they will know that the therapy has been successful. I explain that once they begin to UTILIZE their symptoms as positive triggers, as powerful reminders to TAP IN to their therapeutic tools, the symptoms of the Bermuda Triangle no longer stand a chance. Not yet knowing how to access their tools, clients typically shoot me a look of disbelief that also communicates curiosity and hopefulness.
So how do you UTILIZE symptoms? Whenever stricken with a bout of self-criticism you can say,” Thank you Ms. Self-Criticism for reminding me to support myself…or Thank you Ms. S.C. for triggering me to talk to myself like I would my best friend Lindsey”…or, depending on your mood,” Bleep You Ms. S.C. for reminding me to take five deep breaths and imagine how my Best Self is compassionate and self- supportive.
Self-Criticism is trying to fight with you. It is a symptom that lives in the conscious mind (SEE HYPNOTHERAPY) and works for anxiety. Your Best Self, which thrives in your subconscious mind, is infinitely more powerful than any symptom. Your best self is an expert at utilizing symptoms and transforming them into solutions, into powerfully calming energy. Your best self knows that there is no fight if you thank the symptom for reminding you that you really do not want to fight. Imagine someone trying to argue with you and you realize, “Wow, what a reminder that I want to chill out.”
Symptoms can remind you to visualize loved ones, to breathe deeply, to really let go. Symptoms are relentless, yet when they are utilized as positive triggers to unleash your tools, they quickly dissolve.
The therapeutic trance, or zone, that clients are guided into allows the subconscious mind to create a seamless integration and application of this utilization principle. The conscious mind, where the symptoms live, has great difficulty accessing the inner tools discussed throughout.