The Workbook

I’m slowly, very slowly, reading through The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. I have to go slowly because it often gets my hackles up and I have to wait and see if that’s just a defense mechanism or a legitimate complaint.

I do think, though, that I do have one legitimate complaint–some of this stuff may be too “woo” for me. I know. Me. Who has a ritual to talk to her dead ancestors and the gods who might be interested every October.

But here’s the thing: if you’re doing something in a spiritual context and it’s full of woo, then that’s fine with me. I get it. In my mind, there’s Something or Some Things powerful going on in a realm we don’t really have good access to and we try to understand what’s going on over there through a series of metaphors and symbols that are, always and forever (or at least until we die), going to not quite get at it. In that way, to me, religion is like poetry. You’re using the words to make room and evoke something that can’t quite be put into words. And, so, if I said, “Frigg, work on my brain so that it’s not so fucked up,” I would expect weird shit that didn’t quite make sense. If my dead grandmother came to me in a dream and said, “Be a better mother to your inner child,” I would think that was wise, albeit confusing, advice. If some other ancient ancestor came to me and said, “You must move the negative energy out of your body,” again, probably advice I should take.

But if you are just a person–and in this case, not even a person I know. Just some person who wrote a book.–and you want to start rewiring my brain, I want science. Like, what does “energy” in the context of this book mean? Like, I have to start moving calories around my body in some way? Or is there some way I can control the electrical impulses in my nerves and rework them?

Or where does my “inner child” live?

Or fine if “energy” and “inner child” are woo metaphors. Do you, author, know that they’re woo metaphors? I’m not sure.

But also, I may just be being defensive. The author says that a lot of anxiety is unrealized anger, or at least, starts out that way. I was thinking about that while I walked the dog this morning. And you know, that’s not quite it for me. My anxiety arose when I finally felt I was angry. Before that, before I felt it was okay for me to be angry, I was just depressed. Not “just.” I was very depressed.

But I do think that I don’t always recognize that I am angry, not right away. Or, even if I am angry, I don’t know what to do about it. And looking back on the early big anxiety attacks I had, the ones that stick in my mind, I was angry about something and didn’t know what to do with it.

So, I don’t know. It’s also taking a long time to get through it–and I’ve not even started the exercises, the “workbook” part of it; I’m just reading–because it’s bringing up a lot of feelings I’m not sure what to do with. And I’m sure my defensiveness about the book is tied with that.

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5 thoughts on “The Workbook

  1. I read once that depression was anger without enthusiasm.

    And I do think a lot of patient workbooks are too woo. But it’s part of the therapy game to play along. Sadly.

  2. I think you have a good insight here about the source of your anxiety. You should share it with your therapist, who may be able to help you figure out what to do with your anger.

  3. Depression as anger without enthusiasm. Hmm. I’m going to chew that over.

    I will say, in my workbook’s defense, that I was relieved after reading all of the chapter on how to physically let go of tension, the exercise was “move this body part this way.” A real concrete thing I could do and know I was doing right!

  4. My irritation at ‘inner child’ crap is that it pretends that children are these innocent, pure, sweet beings. Children can be cruel and manipulative or kind and helpful just like other humans! Or at least I know I was. So do they really want me to ‘get in touch’ with the inner child that’s being a little jerk?

  5. They know that about children–good heavens, do you know the drives that Freud ascribed to the id? And “inner child” is a version of the id. You need to get in touch with the bad stuff, if you want to change it or get rid of it. As well as getting in touch with the hurt, to heal that part.

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