Negotiating with your Anxiety

I work with Anxiety.

I train teachers how to negotiate with Anxiety.  My work is based on my own experience as an anxious person – negotiating with my anxiety is something I am very practiced in. I also have 15-years experience as a teacher and leader in UK secondary schools and 6 years systemic and psychodynamic psychology training at the Tavistock Clinic.

“We are all negotiating with our anxiety all the time…”


We need anxiety.

Anxiety generates momentum.   It drives us get something we are missing or get rid of something we don’t want.  These are not mutually exclusive demands.  The drive to find safety is also the demand to rid ourselves of fear.  We are all negotiating with our anxiety all the time.  It is the engine, ticking over, driving us from thought to thought, from action to action, place to place.

“The drive to find safety is also the demand to rid ourselves of fear…”

Depending on our own particular psychopathology, we all have specific anxiety thresholds. But whoever you are, as a human organism, you are wired to minimise your exposure to risk and to stay safe.  What’s more, one of the key roles of your anxiety is to help you recognise potential threats,  and it’s working to do this for you every waking moment.

As an over anxious person of long standing I feel threatened easily.  I have spent many years  seeing ghosts everywhere.  Many thousands of pounds in personal therapy, spiritual quests and psychology courses trying to get my anxiety in order have resulted in me becoming expert in understanding when I am in the driving seat and my anxiety is in check and when my anxiety is at the wheel and we are out of control and hurtling towards the cliff-edge.

“I intellectually understand that my anxiety is a sheep in wolf’s clothing…”

I intellectually understand that my anxiety is a sheep in wolf’s clothing – there is little to worry about. However, this intellectual knowledge has not stopped anxiety reeking havoc in my life.  This is because anxiety often lies beyond the reach of reason. It lives deep within us, it is an energy that comes up from the prehistoric past and it binds us to our animal selves and when aroused it overtakes our capacity to think.

To know this is to begin to know how to recognise and take charge of your natural in-built protective processes when you need to.  It is particularly useful for those who stand and take up positions of authority and so expose themselves to personal attack such as teachers and leaders.  The potential attack invites anxiety to ramp up and come and meet the challenge, to help you.  But too much anxiety, an energy that, in volume, incapacitates thinking, is not very useful when you need to inspire others to use their minds.

My On-line workshops, “A Mind to Teach”, are aimed at helping teachers and leaders understand the place of anxiety in teaching and learning; its potential to drive it off a cliff or drive it forward with purpose.

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Steve Carr

Good Relationships equal Great Progress When students (and teachers) feel safe they will risk everything in the service of their education. These ideas and theories are grounded in 6 great years of MA research into the link between child development and life-long learning and many years creating great relationships with literally thousands of students. The greatest complement I ever heard from many of those students was that my classrooms were the 'safest place to be'. I now run accredited professional development workshops for teachers, teams and school leaders to help them create safety and put the power of positive human relationships at the heart of progress. To find out more email: or subscribe to this blog

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