Whether or not we SHOW our emotions, or are even aware of them a lot of the time, our bodies get activated. This means that even when we STUFF IT, our bodies still FEEL IT, but our bodies don’t get to ride the wave to completion and the energy from the feeling gets STUCK IN OUR BODIES.
This energy either gets funneled into anxiety, or defenses, like we talked about in “Feel Like Louis CK”.
PROJECTION is the main defense that leads to anxiety disorders – all that “what–if” thinking and catastrophizing are how we avoid being present with our feelings at any given moment.
Think of a time you were really into a scary or thriller movie. For most of us, when the bad guy comes around the corner our hearts start to race and our hands get sweaty.
Projection is the reason we actually FEEL physically anxious or upset when we even THINK we are being judged or going to fail. Even when it hasn’t happened yet.
We use projection as a distraction by bringing the PAST into the PRESENT and reacting as if it is real; putting our FEARS in the FUTURE and reacting as if it is real or GOING INTO OTHER PEOPLE’S HEADS and making assumptions about what they are thinking and feeling about us.
For example, if I was rejected and made fun of in the past when I met new people, I get nervous when meeting new people because consciously or not, I am bringing that past experience forward. Even when I just think about meeting new people in the future I get stressed for the same reason and it all gets fuelled by my making assumptions that they will think I am weird or dumb.
Do you notice how when we are in the past, future or in other people’s heads, we don’t have to be present with ourselves and our own experience? We successfully avoid facing and dealing with our own feelings.
We are putting our energy and attention AWAY from us in all of those cases. No wonder we find this exhausting! We don’t get to hold onto our energy.
It should also be noted that when people talk about projection, they are also referring to when we take parts of ourselves we don’t want to face and basically smear it on other people and react as if it is them. For example, if I don’t like someone, but I act and react as if they don’t like me; or if I am thinking about an affair, but instead I accuse my partner of having one.
What can we DO about it?
We have talked about how defenses happen automatically because they are part of our survival map, but that doesn’t mean they get to run the show forever.
Think of our defenses as being on a giant TV on one wall, and our experience and feelings are on a giant TV on another wall. They are both always present, but where we focus completely changes our experience of the moment.
If we are watching TV Doom and Gloom (our defenses) we will feel badly, but if we are focusing on being CURIOUS about our experience and taking the anxiety as FEEDBACK, we will be open and calm. We can’t watch both TV’s at the same time. Whenever there is uncertainty, stress or we are feeling depleated or ill, TV Doom and Gloom WILL get louder and we will start to feel weaker.
1. As soon as we are AWARE that we are feeling weaker, we can CHOSE to focus our attention back on being CURIOUS and use SELF SOOTHING (click here to see previous posts re: self soothing) to help us stay present with whatever feeling is coming up that we had been avoiding.
Another option is to just start writing or journalling and see what comes out of it. When we are actively engaging with a physical task like exercising, writing, painting, etc it can make it easier for our feelings to come up, almost like we are distracting our defenses.
Remember we talked about how the energy of avoided feeling get physically stuck in our bodies? When we focus on letting all of those activated cells surface, they get the chance to fizzle out and our bodies get to come down the other side of the curve. Think of it like shaking a pop bottle to allow all the fizz to form and then we will pop the lid. Then we are just left with the calm.
2. There are also physical causes of anxiety, so be sure to check with your Family Doctor to get some basic bloodworm done to ensure these have been ruled out.
Good luck! Feel free to leave any questions or comments on our Facebook Page– we love hearing from you!