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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Beyond anxiety: the true meaning of sweet nothing

What is (modern) anxiety?

A client and I were discussing this during a two hour intensive session.

Anxiety, fear and excitement share similar physiology. So in theory, we shouldn’t be too bothered, especially as we face very few real survival threats compared to our ancestors. The survival threats we experience just seem real.

Like any physiological state, it’s the meaning we attach to it that creates an emotional experience and becomes pleasant or not. How real we think the meaning and threat are determines the intensity of the experience.

One challenge about anxiety is that it doesn’t have a clear object. Fear and excitement have more obvious triggers. Anxiety on the other hand, has an insidious, nebulous quality in response to an imprecise, unknown threat. Much fog and generalised tension ensue…

The cure?

A few days later, I had a conversation with a doctor who has reinvented his career several times over 3 decades: to Royal Air Force, pharma, consulting and now politics - after a sailing sabbatical among other things including writing 2 or 3 books.

What I found interesting was his use of regular shaman-led Ayahuasca rituals.

Most people struggle with one or two career reinventions (which are becoming the norm in the new labour market). This is because a lot of anxiety emerges as you face the unknown and start to take risks outside your known world. It can be so crippling that you wait until you are forced to make a decision or your health is affected.

Could Ayahuasca and similar psychotropics help the work force of the future to take its destiny in its own hands leaping joyfully from one career situation to another?

I joked that for my coaching clients, I’m their Ayahuasca experience. He laughed.

Transformation and the sweetness of nothing

As an independent professional and scientist, I’m all for experimentation. As a medical doctor, I like to have clear indications and contra-indications when I use medicines to minimise the risk of side-effects.

However, it’s undeniable that a jolt to the system (whether in the form of a psychotropic substance or an unexpected redundancy) can help us reset our perceived limitations. It forces a re-evaluation of our basic assumptions.

A new state of mind (which may seem unpleasant to start with) loosens the hinges on our mental cage and we get a chance to see beyond. With a little courage, after the imagination settles, we touch the still calm core of awareness and go beyond into a quiet vastness – free of routine, repetitive mental noise.

And from that silence, a new idea, a new possibility, a new opportunity emerges. We feel on safe (new) ground again. Sweet! This is what an exceptional mentor, teacher, coach or guide of any kind will help you do. Cross the unknown. It’s the true meaning of whispering sweet nothings in the darkness until you get there...

If you’re not there yet, or unsure whether you’re ready for a plant-based jolt to your system, you can always try Transformational Coaching. Having been through several reinventions myself with only my native brain chemicals and some powerful teachers, I believe the common active component in any transformation process is this:

question what you think is real.

It may be a little tough to start with. Then…

…you’ll find your true power and freedom. And your life will unfold by flow.


The Leaders Circle in London is on for two new dates! Come and do the transformational coaching work with me to unlock the next step in your career and life. Find out more here. n.b. As this is a small group event, there is a simple application process.

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