The Anxiety Balloon

Blog, Anxiety

The anxiety balloon looks like any ordinary helium balloon on a string. But the anxiety balloon is a special balloon. As long as you are focused on controlling it, it will never deflate.

I want you to imagine that you are holding the string of the anxiety balloon in a room in your house. Imagine that you are holding it for hours, days, months or even years at a time.

You are focused on holding the string of the balloon, making sure that your anxiety stays under control. You are scared of losing control of the balloon (and your anxiety with it).

The Anxiety Balloon 1

Occasionally whilst you are holding the balloon, the string will slip through your fingers, and your anxiety will begin to rise.

Your anxiety rising makes you more afraid, so you reach up to grab the string of the balloon and pull it back down.

Holding and grabbing at the string makes you feel safer, it is your coping strategy or safety behaviour.

Inevitably, even though you are trying not to, you will let go of the string again, and your anxiety will rise like it did before.

The balloon (and your anxiety) will always want to rise when it has the opportunity, no matter how many times you tug at the string to pull it back down.

But what if you didn’t reach for the string?

What if you let the balloon rise?

What would that feel like?

What would happen to you?

Well, the balloon can’t continue to rise forever. Eventually it will hit your ceiling and there it will stay for a while unless you pull it down.

Whilst it is on the ceiling, your anxiety may seem unbearable and you will be extremely tempted to pull the balloon down.

The Anxiety Balloon 2

But if you let the balloon be for long enough, without trying to pull it down, your focus will begin to drift away and the balloon will start to deflate. Your anxiety will slowly start to lessen.

Because you let go of the need to control your anxiety, the balloon is starting to lose its helium. The longer you let go, the more it will deflate.

Now, after some time, you might feel the need to reach for the string again and pull it back down from the ceiling. That’s OK, because when you do, you will notice that the balloon is not tugging at the string quite so much. And when you let it go, it doesn’t rise quite so quickly.

By shifting your focus and letting go of your safety behaviours you can lessen the power of anxiety. Eventually, your anxiety balloon may simply hover just above the floor on its own, and you will not feel any need to pull it downwards. This is what recovery looks like.

For support learning how to let go of your anxiety, contact me on: 07588 117305 or email me at: sophie@sbcounselling.co.uk .

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