Thursday, July 22, 2010
Anxiety, Depression & Fear Allow Us to Avoid Dealing With Life
Everyone experiences anger, depression, anxiety/fear, some more so than others. Some get overwhelmed and blocked by these emotions.
Did you ever consider how these emotions are coping devices, allowing you to avoid dealing with life's difficulties? When one is caught up in any of these negative emotions we are so consumed by feelings that we avoid dealing with the circumstances causing them. Buddhist's refer to kleshas, mental states which temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions.
Anger allows us to feel self-righteous in our view. This burning hot emotion keeps us stuck in seeking vengeance and retribution so that we don't move forward or feel compassion. No progress is made. This emotion allows our wounded pride to dominate so that we stay where we are and avoid dealing with the circumstances in a meaningful, productive manner.
Anger often hides hurt, which can lead to depression. We don't want to feel the hurt, so we stay in our self-righteous anger as avoidance behavior.
In acknowledging the hurt,we must admit that trust was broken, and the other party did not protect our best interests. Either we showed poor judgement in trusting this person/entity, or we must acknowledge their flaws and feelings towards us, which may not be as loving as we would like. Anger allows us to avoid looking at these circumstances and feeling the hurt.
The hurt can lead to depression. Depression is a sinking emotion which slows down all movement, creating inertia. Those suffering with chronic depression are not able to generate the momentum to get out of their situation. This inertia allows us to avoid dealing with the circumstances causing the depression. Life isn't working out as planned. Toxic relationships, dead end or unfulfilling jobs often top the list. Changing our lives requires dealing with all of the circumstances, and that's not easy or pretty. So the inertia of depression is a coping strategy that allows us to stay where we are rather than digging ourselves out.
Likewise fear/anxiety is similarly paralyzing. Fear causes us to freeze. Another coping strategy that allows us to skip out on dealing with the future we find so terrifying. Paradoxically, if we get started working on finding a solution to the problem causing the fear, we would find we are too busy to have time to feel the fear. Anxiety is due to uncertainty. If we work on finding solutions, we eliminate the uncertainty, and therefore the source of anxiety.
Chinese medicine can help support you in dealing with these emotions. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) recognizes 7 emotions (anger, grief, sorrow, joy/happiness, worry, fear, fright). TCM organizes disease processes into organ systems (different that the western physiological organ systems). Each of these organ systems has an emotion, taste, sound, color, body part & season associated with it.
Anger is the emotion of the Liver, it's color is green (spring, jealousy), its season is spring, its energy is upward (spring growth) it's sound is shouting. The Liver system in Chinese medicine is responsible for circulating the qi (energy) throughout the body and organs. When we get anger we tighten up, so the qi doesn't move, and we don't move forward in dealing with the situation, other than to seek retribution. In Chinese medicine we use acupuncture and herbs to move the Liver qi, to eliminate the constraint and calm the mind. In this way we support you so that you are able to move forward and deal with the situation.
Sadness can affect many organ systems: the Liver, as a continuum of anger (hurt) causing Liver Qi depression (qi stops moving due to the tightening). Sadness affects the Lungs when associated with grief, the emotion of the Lung. And the Heart, as it affects the Shen, or mind/spirit, which is housed in the Heart. Chinese medicine uses herbs to help calm the mind and tonify the depleted Heart and Liver Blood and Yin. An effective herbal formula, called Happy Tea has 3 herbs to tonify the heart and liver: licorice, dates and wheat. It's a sweet tea. These herbs are often added to other shen calming formulas for people who cry often, maybe after an emotionally traumatic experience, such as death or divorce, or for perimenopausal women. Acupuncture moves the Liver qi and also calms the mind to support you in moving out of this inertia.
Fear is the emotion of the Kidneys in Chinese medicine, associated with the color black, winter, ears, salty flavor and water (ocean). TCM uses herbs and acupuncture to build depleted Kidney qi, resulting in fear, lack of will, drive and motivation.
Acu/herbal therapy is effective in treating depression, anxiety & insomnia, giving you strength to deal with the life circumstances. KB