Heal Anxiety by Facing Your Shadow
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m a healer, and I have anxiety. That’s right. I didn’t really understand what anxiety was, nor did I realize that I have been suffering from it my whole life until a few years ago when I experienced my first panic attack.
My anxiety attacks are very physical. I can be perfectly fine one moment and then the next moment my heart pounds, I can’t breathe, and I become dizzy. I have chest pains, my arms and neck go numb and my mind begins to race down a spiraling tunnel. It feels like I’m going to die, and I feel all alone. That is the worst part of my anxiety, feeling alone and trapped in its vicious cycle. Anxiety manifests differently for each person and can be categorized into various anxiety disorders.
Befriending Your Anxiety
Although millions of Americans have experienced anxiety disorders in their lifetimes, those who suffer from it are often ridiculed, met with disbelief and a general lack of understanding. Yet, unless you have experienced it yourself, it’s hard to truly grasp how terrible and debilitating it can be. Like with any mental health issue, one cannot simply be told, “Can’t you get over it?” or “Oh just take a chill pill, you’re fine.” These compassionless statements are never helpful and further instill the feeling that something is wrong with the person. This can often lead to more anxiety.
I’m not a doctor or clinician, but my own healing journey with anxiety and the clients I support in their own process have lead me to a greater understanding. If we can look at it differently, we can begin to see that anxiety is actually one of our greatest friends. It just requires that we face our shadow.
How to Face Your Shadow
Humans are a not one size fits all when it comes to wellness. My own path to wellness with anxiety has been a mix of a holistic practices: talk therapy, plant-spirit medicine including homeopathy, herbal supplements, essential oils and various forms of body work (massage, Reiki, IET®, acupuncture, etc.) Each of these has been a tremendous support in my healing with anxiety, by supporting me in facing my shadow.
Modern psychology and various mystical and spiritual traditions all have the concept of a shadow, a secret part of us that for many is buried deep within, shunned and never acknowledged. For me the shadow is the part of ourselves that stores our deepest desires, fears, worries, negative thoughts, beliefs and emotions about ourselves, and the world around us. It is not necessarily what we would think of as our dark side, although it can certainly include aspects of that. Our shadow is the reservoir that holds everything in our life that we don’t want to face, keeping it the dark. But, it lingers and is ever present like our physical shadows. It is my belief that when our shadow becomes too big, it starts to take control.
Essentially our nervous system becomes overloaded and we short circuit, letting the shadow take the wheel. Our nervous systems have been wired to protect us from physical, emotional and mental trauma. It stores these experiences just like the shadow, so we can avoid the same experience in the future. Yet, humans aren’t so good at processing effectively and just store these highly charged experiences away only to have them potentially surface later as anxiety.
Through my exploration in talk therapy and receiving body work to help me get in touch with my emotions and core deep feelings, I began to understand and realize that my previous traumas and experience were controlling my life, and I was living in way that kept me stuck. At one point, I thought my anxiety was going to kill me, when in reality what it was actually doing was giving me warning signs that something needed to change.
Facing my shadow hasn’t been easy. It has required me to look at aspects of myself that I don’t like. I’ve had to view my thoughts and feelings about my family, my community and what drives my decisions. It has forced me out of living on autopilot and into a place of sovereignty.
Your shadow/anxiety really just wants to be heard. These are wounded parts of us that need love and acknowledgement. I would encourage those dealing with anxiety to seek out support while exploring the shadow. It’s not something to do by one’s self. Although your anxiety may want you to believe that you are alone, it’s simply not true. There are many healers out there including myself that have healed and are healing from similar experiences. Healing anxiety can simply be about developing a better relationship with yourself, examining how you truly feel and giving yourself the freedom to live the way you desire.
Dan Lupacchino, LMT is a Integrated Energy Therapy ® Master Instructors, Mas-sage Therapist, Medicinal Aromatherapist and Healer. He runs his practice out of The Healing in Harmony Center in Glastonbury, CT. Where he also offers classes, workshops and trainings. He was one of the winners of the Natural Nutmeg’s Readers Choice Top 10 Energy Healers in 2017 and authored a chapter called, “My Hands Lead Me Here” to the Natural Nutmeg’s most re-cent anthology, “Essential Healing for Your Spirit and Soul.” To contact please call Dan at 860-716-2740 or visit: integrativemassageworks.com.