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How shall we relate to anxiety?

Posted by Simon Parke, 28 February 2022, 11.02am

How shall we relate to anxiety?

Perhaps as a disappointed lover.

Anxiety arrives, unbidden; in fact, like a house guest who has long over-stayed their welcome, it hardly goes away. It’s just endlessly there.

And so we say, ‘That’s just how I am’. There doesn’t seem to be a choice.

But this isn’t quite true. Above all else, anxiety is a relationship; and in relationship, there is always choice.

Just because anxiety chooses us, it doesn’t mean we have to choose anxiety. And the relationship between our selves and anxiety is not one that is going anywhere good.

As you’re aware, anxiety is never about now; it is about then. Anxiety is a response from our past conditioning; an attempt at control of unsettling circumstances.

So, it has history; and like a persistent door-to-door salesman, is not easily hastened out the door.

But once we begin to question it as a partner; once we ask, ‘Do I want this?’ - the relationship does begin to change.

Once we begin to speak with it, (as opposed to believing its lies), it does lose its power.

An abusive relationship requires compliance. But once we begin to withdraw compliance, and use our own voice, the abuser is diminished.

And so it is with anxiety.

As has often been said, no one is an anxious person. Rather, we are people through whom anxiety passes.

It is not who we are, but an aberration from our past; a hang-over from old fears; and so it is a relationship in which we have some choices.

How shall we relate to anxiety?

Perhaps like a disappointed lover. This relationship is taking us nowhere. And so gently, and with endless self-kindness, we begin take our leave.

‘You appeared to help me once, my friend, but no more. So, as the Swedish say, thank you for coming, thank you for going.’


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