I’m new to blogging and I noticed that I felt quite anxious when I posted up my very first blog entry last week. 

It made me think about how I, and other people, tackle things which are unfamiliar, especially when it seems like everyone else has been doing this forever and is totally at ease with it.  Sometimes it is just a matter of taking a deep breath and plunging right in, trusting that our skills and capacity for good judgement will carry us through a new experience.  Other times, it might be more sensible to hold back, look for further help, information or support, before tackling a new challenge.

Feeling anxious is a common response when the demands of our life draw us into unfamiliar territory.  What matters is how we respond to that anxiety- whether we allow it to paralyse us and convince ourselves that we simply cannot do whatever it is that is asked of us, or whether we learn to listen to our anxiety as part of our desire to expand our life experience.  We can make our anxiety into something that stops us moving forward, or we can think of it as potentially the creative energy which forms our motivation in life. 

In Gestalt therapy, anxiety is seen in relation to excitement.  In some ways, anxiety is the opposite of excitement, since anxiety is likely to stop us going forwards whereas excitement is about the desire for new experience.  But anxiety can also be seen as excitement which has become blocked due to a lack of support. Once we learn to support ourselves, and to ask others for support, then we free ourselves up to experience our energy as excitement about living.

Similarly, existential thinking has a lot to say about anxiety.  For one of the early existential philosophers, Sǿren Kierkegaard, anxiety was ‘the dizziness of freedom’, since it concerns the recognition that we do have choices about how to live and that we are responsible for those choices.  We often pretend to ourselves that we have no choice in many areas of our lives, but if we give ourselves time to reflect and attempt really to be truthful with ourselves, we discover that we have more capacity for choice and change than we had thought.  When we look more clearly at some of the ways in which we make excuses for ourselves, and face what it means to be in charge of our own lives, we are likely to feel anxious.  But this can also bring a sense of personal liberation, as we begin to appreciate our own skills and qualities.

I believe that counselling and therapy can be really helpful when we feel blocked or anxious, in enabling us to rediscover our creativity, courage, and capacity for living life to the full.