“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

~ John Milton, Paradise Lost

One of the ways in which I explain anxiety to my clients is: “it's a mind/body system by which our subconscious mind (i.e. our out of conscious awareness) alerts our conscious mind (i.e. our conscious awareness) to potential danger”.

This alert from our subconscious allows our conscious mind, which is logical, analytical and imaginative, to start preparing to take action, so we can survive (physically and/or mentally) the future danger (real or imagined) when it arrives.

Our subconscious raises the ‘red flag’ when it appraises we’ll be exposed to a situation that will harm one or more of our Physical and/or Emotional Needs. Its appraisal involves firstly matching sensory information with what we already know. If a potential threat is identified, the second stage of appraisal involves the subconscious determining whether we have the resources to cope with the threat.



If we fail to heed the fact that our subconscious is waving a big ‘red flag,’ our subconscious may trigger a physical symptom such as pain to get us to pay attention to its red alert.

This is what happened to me when I experienced anxiety as a result of being made redundant. Consciously I was very happy about losing my job because, I hated the job, had a nightmare boss and, if made redundant, would receive a large pay-out. It was win-win-win as far as my conscious mind was concerned.

However, while I was telling myself, at a conscious level, how great it was that I was being made redundant, at the unconscious level my brain was thinking the complete opposite and perceived the redundancy as a big threat.

I developed a small pain in the side. I thought nothing of it. Over the next week the intensity of the pain increased driving me to the doctors. My doctor could find nothing physically wrong with me and told me to return for more tests if the pain got any worse.

It did. A week later I was back in his office, convinced I had appendicitis or an ulcer. Ultra sound scans found nothing. I was prescribed pain killers, which I chose not to take.

One night, a week after ‘redundancy day’, I went to bed in acute pain and woke up pain free. I was astonished. What had happened overnight?

A friend, who is a wellbeing coach, explained that my subconscious had been trying to alert my conscious mind of the dangers of being unemployed but, because I was so focused on all the benefits of being made redundant, I ignored the warnings. To get my attention my subconscious created the pain. Because I continued to ignore the warning my subconscious had continued to ramp up the pain to get my attention.

But why had the pain stopped so suddenly?

On the last day of experiencing the pain, I’d been offered a six month long contract. My subconscious had appraised that the threat to my Physical and Emotional Needs had passed, and a signal was no longer required, so it switched off the pain.

That experience with anxiety and, more importantly, my friend’s explanation were the catalysts for my career change from accountant to mind management coach. I wanted to learn more about this incredible mind/body system of ours and in particular how to avoid anxiety and stress in future. I’ve now been studying stress and anxiety for seven years, and over that time have built up a comprehensive toolkit of effective techniques that people can use, when they need to, to reset the mind/body system that creates and maintains their anxiety.

In today’s over-stimulating and hyper-connected environment, anxiety (the mind/body system) can become hyper vigilant and start to send out false alarms, as in the case of generalized anxiety. Sometimes anxiety can overestimate the level of threat as in the case of social anxiety. When the symptoms of anxiety stop us from living normal lives then the system needs to be reset.


What Next?

If worry, anxiety or stress are causing ongoing problems in your life, give me a call me on 021 056 8389, email tony@tycoaching.nz or use the Book Now button below and let's explore how I can help you reset your system.

REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."

Go well


Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise lies in helping people to 'change their minds' so they gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress, overcome limiting beliefs and unhelpful habits. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of solution focused coaching, neuroscience, positive psychology and clinical hypnosis.