If we’ve spent our childhood learning that certain feelings are Very BadTM and Totally UnacceptableTM, it’s no surprise that we may grow up to craft a universe for our adult self where anger, fear, sadness, or other big feelings aren’t allowed to orbit.
In this sketchnote based on a podcast, you’ll learn more about the roots of anxiety and how it often flows through families, religions, and bodies.
In the absence of a full range of authentic emotions, anxiety often takes hold, filling the vacuum with an uneasy dread of the unknown.
Emotion-embedded body sensations and the stories we carry from early experiences often hold the clues to deciphering the constellations of body-based emotion, naming, and processing.
This sketchnote was created as I listened to episode #109 of The Place We Find Ourselves, a podcast created by Adam Young. You can listen to the podcast for free via this link on Spotify or visit Adam Young’s website.
[Click here to jump to a detailed image description for screen readers.]
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Anxiety is meme-level normalized in our current culture- but maybe it shouldn’t be.
It’s normal for all of us to be familiar with the sensation of anxiety- feeling anxiety rise from time to time is part of being human. However, an anxious state doesn’t have to be a place where we set up a campsite and build a life.
Anxiety is often a mask.
Good therapy, authentic relationships, kind practices of genuine self-reflection, and stepping back from media voices that tell us narratives we know aren’t true can begin the process of removing the mask.
As we explore the anxiety, we can begin dismantling the field of anxiety-fueled thoughts that spins up when we’re avoiding deep and unwelcome emotions.
As I listened to episode 109 of the podcast “The Place We Find Ourselves” by Adam Young, I sketched out his dialogue on anxiety and the way it’s located in bodies, stories, and history. This episode delves into the roots of anxiety and the role of body sensations, narratives, suppressed emotions, and the impact of families (and religions!) on the common experience of anxiety.
The Roots of Anxiety: Body Sensations and Narratives
In this podcast, Young says anxiety is a product of our stories and experiences. It’s about feeling emotions in our bodies. These feelings differ for everyone, but there’s one thing we share in common: bodies can communicate powerfully.
Anxiety often shows up as physical feelings. A racing heart, shortness of breath, or a knot in the stomach. Recognizing these cues helps us understand their role in signaling anxiety.
Our past experiences, traumas, and beliefs shape how we see the world. This is the lens through which we interpret events. This influences how we react to the world emotionally, including anxiety.
In his pocast episode, Young highlights the role of childhood experiences in shaping anxiety. Anxiety in adults can often stem from kids who grew up in a family where they were punished for expressing emotions. Unacceptable emotions become suppressed, and suppressed emotions change into the formless, forboding sense of dread we call anxiety.
Young lists three emotions that are most often forbidden by families: sadness, fear, and anger. These may be forbidden emotions in families because:
- An emotionally limited parent or caregiver cannot tolerate their own emotional response to a child’s expression of anger, fear, or sadness.
- A belief system, like a religion, devalues emotional experience or only allows certain emotions as acceptable (joy, peace, contentment, etc)
- Dysfunctional family dynamics create a belief in children that the expression of unpleasant emotions might destabilize the family (i.e. cause a dad to leave or a mom to use substances)
Everyone has moments of emotional imbalance. For some, regaining balance is difficult. This struggle often leads to persistent anxiety. Current anxiety often ties back to past pain and unresolved emotions. Acknowledging this encourages people to dig into their past, start healing, and learn to manage anxiety.
The exploration of anxiety in this podcast focuses on body sensations, narratives, suppressed emotions, and the influence of families and religions. It promotes expressing emotions, validating them, and healing from past experiences. This helps manage anxiety now and in the future.
Image Description for Screen Readers:
This image is a sketchnote with an off-white background. The title in the top center is pink bubble letters with dark brown outlining that reads, “Anxiety.” Below, as a part of the title, is dark brown colored handwriting that reads, “+ Bodies & Families of Origin.”
On the left side of the sketchnote, handwritten text reads, “Anxiety is rooted in BODY SENSATIONS.” Next to this are yellow lightning bolts and a drawing of a pink heart that appears to be beating. The text continues with the word “Anxiety” written on a yellow banner with dark brown handwritten text below, “usually has roots in our NARRATIVE & life experience.” To the left of this is a drawing of a saucepan sitting on a burner, with pink and yellow fire blazing in the saucepan. Below this, dark brown handwritten text reads, “Example: FIRE does not create anxiety. It creates FEAR.”
Below this is a drawing of a child with pink hair and a yellow shirt who is crying. Next to the drawing is dark brown text that reads, “Kids who are punished (word is highlighted in yellow) for having emotions” a dark brown arrow points to the next line of text in the sentence, which is separated by yellow and brown circles, “become anxious (word is highlighted in pink) adults.” Text continues below, “ALL EMOTIONS are constellations of body sensations GIVEN MEANING.” An arrow points to text in parentheses to the right of this: “Psst… they can be a little different for everyone.”
Text continues on the top center of the sketchnote. A drawing of a yellow hand is above a block of dark brown text, “EMOTIONS SUPPRESSED in childhood become intolerable (word is emphasized and underlined in pink) emotion that sublimate as anxiety (word is emphasized).” Text continues below, with three words written on separate yellow flags with brown text underneath, “sadness, fear, and anger are emotions often SUPPRESSED (word is written in pink).
Text continues at the top right of the sketchnote. A drawing of a person with short yellow hair and a yellow striped tie has their eyes squeezed closed and their mouth open. A speech bubble says, “Emotions NEED to be expressed to clear fully.” Dark brown text continues below, “Families + Religions (word is written in parentheses and highlighted in yellow) that forbids these feelings create ANXIETY.” Below this is split text that reads, “Everyone gets dysregulated (word is emphasized and underlined in yellow) sometimes” – a line leads from this word to the next line of text, “for some people, it’s harder (word is written on a pink banner) to get regulated again.” Below this is a drawing of a yellow analog clock with text next to it: “ANXIETY in the present usually has roots in the pain and unfelt emotion of the past.” The phrase “pain and unfelt emotion” is written in pink.
The source of the sketchnote is the podcast from Adam Young “The Place We Find Ourselves,” Episode 109. Visual translation was done by Lindsay Braman.