[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Week That Was discovers that boxing and labelling our condition does very little to ease it. It also looks at the science behind Shape of Emotion.
Everybody is anxious
We all get anxious. I do not know anybody who has never, or does never, get anxious. It's part of the human condition. Sometimes anxiety can be useful. My anxiety around upcoming exams may kick me out of my procrastinating stupor and get me to my books. (I'm not writing exams, my son is, just saying…) But when a beautiful 19 year old walks in, (let's call her Anna*) and tells us that she suffers from multiple types of anxiety, then there is something to worry about.
"I'm anxious about everything"
Anna described how she felt self conscious in social situations, worried about what others were thinking or saying about her. In addition, if someone didn't greet her, or suddenly wasn't messaging her, she immediately assumed it was something she had done. She was perpetually alert to the whims of others, believing she was at fault if things weren't going the way she believed they 'should' be going.
And then there was the test stress. The anxiety about her studies and the drive to do well inhibited her ability to settle down and study. She reported that she was sometimes so worried that nothing went in. Her overactive, worrying mind kept her awake at night, further impacting her ability to study successfully.
Anna was suffering from social anxiety, approval anxiety, performance anxiety and test stress. Does it matter what these different types of anxiety are all called? No. Labelling is something we like to do as a society. We think that by putting things into neat little boxes, somehow we can manage them better. It doesn't make it easier to deal with, or make it go away. In fact the labels and knowing that we suffer from several different 'labels' can add to the anxiety, make it worse. Anxiety is anxiety and it all feels unpleasant. What matters is that Anna's capacity to fully engage with life was being curtailed by her high levels of anxiety.
An effective way to relieve anxiety
Anna had come for a one on one Shape of Emotion session, bravely entering an unfamiliar space to do an unfamiliar process. There tends to be scepticism about the process. Some people think it is an off the wall, woo-woo, made up intervention like using snake oil or having Doom sprayed in your eyes to rid you of your demons.
There's nothing woo-woo about Shape of Emotion. It evolved from Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an evidence-based modality that also uses acupoints to release anxiety. Scientific research into EFT has shown that the acupoints used in EFT [and Shape of Emotion] reduce stress and anxiety. (Gaesser, 2018**).
Feeling lighter and brighter
As much as there are similarities to EFT, there are differences with Shape of Emotion. We don't tap - we simply touch. We don't focus on the trigger for the anxiety while using positive statements to reframe the situation. Instead, the focus in Shape of Emotion is on the structure of the difficult emotion and how it shows up in the body. We don't even need to know what the label for the emotion is. In Anna's case Shape of Emotion would have helped her equally well without knowing the names of the different anxieties involved.
Anna cleared her anxieties (all of them) that afternoon. She left with a tool she could use whenever she felt the familiar pangs of stress and worry in the future. She left lighter and brighter, more in control of her life, ready to fully engage with her university experience, friends and studies.
What are some of the ways you use to relieve your anxious moments? Feel free to drop us a note and share them - either via email or in the comments.
*Anna is not her real name. Her experiences are an aggregate of Shape of Emotion sessions.
**Gaesser, Amy. 2018. "Befriending Anxiety to Reach Potential: Strategies to Empower Our Gifted Youth." Gifted Child Today 41 (4): 10. https://doi.org/10.1177/1076217518786983.