This is the fifth instalment of 11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety, an ongoing experiment in being kind.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Statistics indicate that the majority of people are extravert. Extraverts may not know what they think until they speak. So, whilst talking may not be everyone’s preferred way, for most talking is a great help in shifting the ground.
One of the characteristics of anxiety is that thoughts circle unrelentingly and to no profit. Talking can break the deadlock of circling thoughts. Anxiety clouds the mind and the issues; talking can help to unravel the issues and to bring clarity and perspective.
Sometimes, when we are in this state, we can keep quiet and hide away, perhaps for shame. There is that within and without us that acts against our best interests. Ignatius talks about the enemy of our human nature and the evil spirit but I will not be drawn into reifying what is human and quotidian. He suggests that this ‘enemy’ likes to kept itself secret and that opening ourselves to another is an act of appropriate humility and an opportunity for grace.
Find someone who will listen to you without trying to fix you. Ok, so don’t be the person who is always banging on to others about your problems and who everyone tries to avoid. But do not sit in a stew of shame, confusion and isolation.
Find someone who:
- really listens;
- is kind;
- takes you seriously;
- can be objective;
- does not need you to change;
- does not have a vested interest in what choices you make or the actions you take;
- gives advice you trust, but who is not wedded to their advice;
- will let you follow your own train of thought and not corral you into theirs;
- listen openly and compassionately without being partisan or controlling or invested in an outcome.
The point is that this body (a.k.a. ‘you’) already knows everything you need. What is important is to attend to this body waiting patiently for the wisdom that is already contained within. This is fundamentally about trust – trust that if you have the time to talk you can work things out yourself, that this body already knows all the answers that you need. A good companion will help you listen to these depths of this body, yourself.