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Four Keys to Unlock the Wisdom of Anxiety

Heal

Juliette Belmonte

I wouldn’t have expected the ER doctor to say, “Welcome, you’ve just entered your dark night of the soul.” But if he had sent me on my way with information about what was happening, it would have been easier for me to arrive at the why.

A 60-year-old man bolts awake each morning at 3:00 a.m., worrying about his financial future, even though he’s financially secure. A 7-year-old girl worries that her parents will die. A 25-year-old woman ruminates that she doesn’t love her boyfriend enough (even though he’s everything she’s ever wanted in a partner). These are all people who are suffering from anxiety. While most people know what anxiety feels like, they often have a hard time describing what it is. Being able to define anxiety is one of the ways that we contain and soothe it, for what we can name and identify holds less charge than a nameless experience. Here’s my definition of anxiety: Anxiety is a feeling of dread, agitation, or foreboding associated with a danger that does not exist in the present moment. It can also be defined as a general and pervasive sense of dis-ease without an identified source. Anxiety, while often experienced in the body, is a head state that keeps its prisoners trapped in the realm of unproductive and fear-based thinking. Anxiety keeps you on high alert, and at its core lies the belief that you’re not OK, …

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has guided thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, best-selling books, online courses, and her website, conscious-transitions.com. This article was adapted from her new book, The Wisdom of Anxiety: How Worry & Intrusive Thoughts Are Gifts to Help You Heal, published in May 2019 by Sounds True.

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