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  • Counselling for Anxiety & Depth Psychotherapy, 2: Flow

    counselling for anxiety

    Counselling for anxiety shows us that anxiety pulls us out of the flow of life, and /a-midlife-transition can show us how and why this occurs.  How can we avoid this hijack, and push through our anxiousness to live life in our natural rhythm?

    Anxiety Rips Us Out of the Present

    Our own experience of anxiety shows that we’re not really in the present when gripped by an anxious state.  Psychologically, that state pulls us into the past or the future — and possibly both.  Counselling for anxiety shows that our struggle with anxiousness will either maroon us in the past, in past failures struggles or conflicts, or in the future, paralyzed by fear around future outcomes.

    It All Relates to the Self

    Anxious states pose big questions for us about either our own security or capability — or both.  The questions most often associated with anxiety refer to oneself, such as,  “Am I going to be alright?” or “Am I going to be able to do or accomplish XYZ?”  In one way or another, our anxious unease poses questions to us about the well-being and preservation of the self, and/or about personal identity.

    Anxious States are Rooted in Our Complexes

    From a Jungian perspective, anxious states are rooted in persistent mental objects called complexes.  These are knots or clusters of emotional energy that gather around a certain stimulus.  When a complex is activated, we are drawn back into old emotions and feelings, which keep us disconnected from the present situation.  Often, because of the way that the brain works, when we are caught up in the intense emotion produced by a complex, we do not think clearly, and we do not have a good sense of ourselves, and of our boundaries.  We get tangled up, and are unable to move through the challenge of the situation with any sort of natural flow.

    Acting From Ourselves in the Now

    In the process of counselling for anxiety, the primary question faced is a question that is also found in /a-midlife-transition.  Put basically, that question might be stated as “How can I truly be myself in this situation, with confidence in who I am?”  A creative answer to that question can only be found when we understand in ourselves the emotional obstacles that stop us from “flowing” in the present – the complexes.  Untangling these knots, and getting to their sources, is a key goal in /a-midlife-transition work.


    PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by Yogendra174


    1. jamenta


      May 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm -

      Thanks Brian for another informative blog post. Your use of the word “flow” reminded me of a quote I recently read from a book by Allan Hunter:

      “Whatever we want to call it, I’d like us to consider it as ‘flow,’ as what happens when we get out of our heads and start listening with our whole being. When we are in such a space we know we’re doing what is right for us, no matter what others may say, and no matter how odd it may seem.”

      1. Brian C
        May 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm -

        Thsnk you very much for your comment, John. I think that there are some important connections between the way that Hunter is using the word “flow”, and the way I’ve used it in this post, in the emphasis on our whole being. When we can get past the complexes in such a way that we are here in the present, and when we are doing and being what is authentically ours, then we are living our actual life. When complexes drag us out of the present moment, we are left, very often, only with an anxiety in which our basic existence is a problem for us. It’s only over time as we work with our complexes that they give up the spontaneity and life that is bound up in them, so that we get to be ourselves. Thank for the insightful comment, John!

    2. Sarah Densmore
      May 17, 2012 at 11:56 am -

      It seems that there can be as many complexes as there are individual psyches. I understand that they each have their basis of origin in an archetype, but the exact formulation if you will would be unique according to one’s individual life experiences and psychic relationship to the archetype. Is that correct?

      Thank you as always Brian for another thought-provoking post.

      1. Brian C
        May 23, 2012 at 7:44 am -

        Thanks very much for your insightful comment, Sarah. Yes: while it’s true that every complex has an archetype at the core of it, the particular nature of the complex, and its structure, is going to be a result of very individual factors. These have to do with factors such as individual heredity, and with the particular experiences of the individual, and the ways in which they have formed the individual psyche. So the exact “shape” of a complex will always be unique to a particular individual who has it. Thanks again for the great question.

    3. jamenta


      May 23, 2012 at 11:40 am -

      “One gives one’s mind, as before, to outer duties, but at the same time remaining alert for hints and signs, both in dreams and in external events that the Self uses to symbolize its intentions – the direction in which the life-stream is moving.”

      Man and his Symbols, #Jung

      1. Brian C
        May 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm -

        Thank you for the quotation from Jung’s Man and His Symbols , John, which I think is very relevant here. Jung is here telling us about a psychological shift which goes on in the individual, as psychological energy and engagement is more caught up with the self and the inner life. The focus shifts, and externalities, while retaining a definite importance, are no longer the focus, in the same way. A fascinating quotation to bring in, in this context — thanks very much, John!

    4. Ruth Martin

      Ruth Martin

      August 27, 2012 at 4:04 am -

      Thanks Brian, for the topic(s) and Jamenta and Sarah for adding to them, Just went through a 3 day bout of anxiety! Figured it out via dreams, and finally thru recognizing 2 highly significant ‘anniversary’ dates only 4 days apart that strongly impacted my life (one being the anniversary of a TBI ). Although this has not happened every year, a third event seemed to be the trigger to bringing out the complex. the synchronicity of the blog w/anxiety being the topic, was very well received! -Ruth

      1. Brian C
        September 2, 2012 at 4:01 am -

        Thank you very much for your comment, Ruth. It’s still a source of amazement to me how powerful the “waking dreaming” phenomenon of synchronicity can be. I’m glad is anything around the post was of healing value at the time of the anniversaries you describe. I’m often struck by powerful ways in which anniversary dates of important and/or traumatic events can abide in the unconscious, and powerfully affect us. Thank you for sharing this very personal, but very profound experience with anxiety, Ruth.

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