Help for Anxiety Through Depth Psychotherapy 4: Concern
Concern sounds like such a benign word, yet disproportionate concern can be a sign of needing help for anxiety.
Well, Isn’t It Good to be Concerned?
Yes, of course it is !
Life is full of all sorts of things that need our concern — that’s the source of the meaning in our lives. However, concern can get distorted into anxiety so intense that it gets in the way of our genuine living.
We have concerns because we value certain key things in our lives. But when the concern becomes so intense that it destroys much of the value in our lives… well, …that’s a concern.
Concern for Others
Inevitably, we’re going to be concerned for people in our lives whom we love — children and lovers, for example. But that concern can escalate to a level where we definitely need help for anxiety.
In such cases, the line may get crossed between our genuine caring for the security of the other, and other factors such as:
- unconscious desire for power or control,
- out of control guilt feelings,
- unconscious identification with the other, and desires to live our unlived lives through them; or,
- radical insecurity, and fear of the future.
Any of these, and many other factors, can masquerade as caring, and can get blurred and mixed in with genuine feelings of love. Concern can get so extreme that it colours everything in my life — and becomes obsession.
We can defend ourselves from our own mixed feelings by wearing the mask of obsessive care — “I just love and care for her/him/it so much!” Such “love’ can actually push away unconscious feelings about ourselves and our lives that we’d rather not have.
Where our concern becomes overwhelming, or disproportionate, or it completely violates tour personal boundaries, we need to examine, not only the impact of this concern upon our lives, but also its deepest roots. In this way, our search for help for anxiety may take us into issues of depth that might not have been at all apparent initially.
This clip from WGN-TV in Chicago masterfully opens up one form of such overwhelming concern: the “helicopter parent” phenomenon:
In this clip, Linda, the mother, does have very genuine and deep love for her son, Anthony. However, her feelings of guilt and regret have built up her concern for him to such an extent that she cannot say “No”. This must surely be debilitating both in her own life, and in its impact on her son.
What’s the Real Concern?
When our concern gets in the way of our freedom, our autonomy and our capacity to fully live our lives, we may very well require help for anxiety. To free our concern from underlying entanglement with unconscious issues and conflicts can be a key part of our process of individuation, and a key part of work in /a-midlife-transition.