Look Around You
24th July 2019
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Tunnel vision

A strong fear can put us in a ‘tunnel vision’ mental state. Tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.  As well as being a physical response to anxiety or stress, we can view this from a somatic point of view.

The somatic body will show characteristics of our emotional and mental state.  The easiest way to illustrate this is to think of someone who has ‘the weight of the world on their shoulders’.  The heavy burden of negative lifestyle issues or a negative mental attitude ‘weighs heavy’ and results in poor posture through rounded shoulders, lowered head and lack of eye contact.

When we have tunnel vision, we have a very narrow field of vision, we get focussed on one thing.  We can become very fixed in our views and this can affect our performance in making decisions, managing people or being creative  We need to widen our vision and see the bigger picture.

A simple technique

A very simple technique to break this state, in addition to taking a deep breath and noticing your body, is to notice your environment.  This is part of a broader Gestalt technique which I’ll write about next week but for now,  just notice your environment.

Take, for example, fear of flying.  I often tell people they are not fearful of flying, they are fearful of crashing.  It sounds flippant but it is an illustration of using a Gestalt technique to mentally contradict your fear or anxiety.  If you are sitting on an aeroplane and you are anxious about flying try do this:

  • Look around you – what do you see?
    People reading a book, sleeping, drinking coffee, stewardesses looking after passengers,
  • Listen – What do you hear?
    The engine of the aeroplane running how it should, people talking. People looking relaxed.
  • Notice your body – what do you feel?
    The vibration of the aeroplane – which is absolutely how it should be.  The seat beneath you.  Your feet on the floor.
  • What can you smell?  The different smells in the air, the coffee on your table, the paper of the in-flight magazine?

What you will notice is that everything is normal.  There is no indication of a problem.  It is your fear that is making you anxious – and that is in your head – and you can change that.

This simple technique can be used in normal situations which are actually non-threatening where anxiety is present; giving a presentation at work, negotiating a pay rise, saying no, pitching for the business, asking your partner for what you want.  Virtually anything.

It’s a kind of mindfulness, it brings you to the present through your vision.  In the next blog, I’ll talk about how we can use our mind and what we say to ourselves to alleviate anxiety and lack of confidence.

If you have a forthcoming event or difficult situation and would like to explore this technique why not book a Discovery Session or call me on 01424 773 988.

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About the Author

Elaine Copeland Health & Wellbeing Consultant

Member since: 13th January 2015

Elaine is a consummate practitioner who has been working on herself and others for over 25 years. Combining her compassion and intuition with her commercial experience she has the rare ability to show...

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