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Charting A Way Through Anxiety

Written by: Luke Hampel, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Anxiety is the most common psychological affliction today and is connected with the emotion of fear. Fear and anxiety can be said to have 3 main sources. Anxiety that arises from the past, which deals with the concepts of learning, memory and trauma. Anxiety that exists in the present, which deals with the concepts of belonging, self-worth and individual expression, and fears about what could exist in the future, which is related to the concepts of storytelling, ideals and imagination.

The first source of anxiety is connected to the idea of the past. In its healthy expression, anxiety gives us the gift of learning. The brain has been called by researchers the “prediction organ”, anticipating at each moment the next. This gift of memory allows us to draw from our entire past to apply in each present moment.

In its unhealthy expression, however, the “prediction organ” anticipates a future that is not at all like the past. Loud noises may be anticipated as gunfire, a song becomes conflated with rejection, or a lover's tone becomes connected to vivid memories of manipulation and abuse. If the duration or length is acute enough we say the person is traumatized. Even small stressors can trigger their bodies and minds to quickly seize up, become aggressive or run away. Something painful has happened, and this must be confronted, grieved and integrated into the psyche so that new learning can take place.

The second source of anxiety deals with present fears or concerns. This not only involves attention to surroundings for safety, but also the search for social belonging. When presented with a group of people we must search for commonality and acceptance. When combined with activity, anxiety can become what has been called “flow” or total immersion with the moment. When we are immersed in the moment, all insecurities give way to the fullness of expression.

In its unhealthy expression, however, anxiety gives us the impression that we do not fit in, even though we actually do. We might feel overwhelmed or self-doubt might be taking over. There may be a willingness to connect with others, for example, but we might doubt our worthiness, and, as we are social creatures, it is only natural to fear social rejection. Perhaps we are comparing too much or even have an underlying identity crisis that needs to be resolved first. Whatever the case may be, the self must trust the other to feel comfortable enough expressing themselves, or even being receptive to connection.

Finally, we have anxiety that arises from the future, or from what might happen. In its healthy expression, anxiety keeps us engaged and on “the edge of our seat”. There is great excitement in the unknown because it is new and surprising. Surprises expand our worldview and provide new pathways to growth. When we feel safe and loved, our imagination can receive positive, empowering stories that energize us forward.

In its unhealthy expression, however, it feels like our mind can only think of the negative possibilities. There is an overarching need to control ourselves and others. We don’t trust ourselves to take any kind of risk, fear of judgment or even anger with ourselves and others dominates. When anxiety about the future dominates it feels like a great possibility of disaster behind every choice, and this disappointment will surely crush us.

To find any solution, we must first clearly define the problem, and while all psychological distress can be said to be happening now, there would be too much confusion in living a life without defining the past or projecting a future. To create a stable identity we must integrate our past experiences and project our ideals into the future. The concepts of past, present and future anchor the psyche against life’s waves of stress and the continual process of transformation which we call time. Therefore, in dealing with anxiety, we must first try to understand a person’s past, reinforce belonging and expression in the present, and ultimately create empowering stories about the future to inspire us in courageous, just and wise directions.

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Luke Hampel, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

For Luke, the most important thing in therapy is being authentic. He takes a fundamentally client-centered approach, and therapy for him is a balance between providing emotional support with a fresh perspective. He acknowledges that all his clients teach him something important, and he considers therapy a special place of healing and opportunity.

He believes therapy is for the wise and the brave. Being strong means connecting with others and opening up to shared experiences. He feels his job is to provide a space for you to be yourself and to provide a reflection of both your unconscious and conscious self so you can discover more of who you are.


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