Of all the things I work with on a regular basis, anxiety definitely ranks top of the list but it’s also one of the most socially acceptable states to defer to when it comes to labeling and recognizing how you feel. I’m coming to realise that, for the most part, any level of activation in the body that feels uncomfortable or takes us outside our window of tolerance is more often than not described as anxiety, but when you start to fossick beneath the surface, that’s not always the case. In fact, our internal walkie talkie system between our nervous system and our brain can be so unclear that it can be hard to pinpoint what we are actually feeling, even when we are in the midst of it.
For example, anger and frustration have a similar energy, but our culture and relationships have often deemed them shameful or overly negative. If we have no understanding or experience with healthy or mindful anger (which is necessary for us to be able to channel an energy of assertiveness and strength), then it’s easier to feel the experience of it and chuck it in the anxiety bucket for good measure.
Many of us have become so frozen and muted, that any level of vitality in our system feels dangerous. So even if it’s excitement or joy we are feeling, our nervous system cannot hold or contain the experience in a way that allows us to feel in control of it, and so we feel ourselves boiling over.
In order to be effective partners for our horses, we need to be able to hold the bigger energies without moving into flight or freeze. And we need to recognize that the uprising of energy in our system is not always anxiety, and to begin to track how it is we feel in relation to certain events and situations so that we expand our capacity and can stay rooted to ourselves in the midst of big emotions.
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