First tenet: Anxiety must turn into fear - Getting ready for action
1 have been making it clear that the concatenation of introjected affect controls and - in conjunction with a sense of how enormous the threat to our situation has become - the lack of transparency in our living conditions is leading to a paralysis of our ability to act, which in turn generates massive anxiety. We defend ourselves against this kind of anxiety by using various methods of anaesthetising ourselves and also through selective inattention. Our first task is to allow this anxiety to surface. The pathway towards that goal is to interrupt - again and again - our chronic and most favourite forms of self-anaesthetising, and at the same time look at what happens with full attention and awareness. The resultant anxiety will have to be borne for a while since, when no longer defended against, it turns very quickly into fear which motivates action against any actual threat. Soon we don't hold our breath any longer; soon we give vent to our emotions; sometimes we shout. It helps to have company: for a time, we will have to become a self-help group of anxiety-ridden human beings. As soon as we are free again and able to breathe in agitation, paralysis dissolves all by itself, except that now there is no refuge anywhere; menace is everywhere. And then all energies flow into wanting to act.
Gestalt therapy teaches that the resulting liberation of our aggressive potential, possibly by reactivating our capacity for de-structuring the presenting Gestalts and for removing the obstacles we encounter, is of crucial importance for ensuring that the contacting process succeeds. Courage under threat requires the liberation of rage from the prisons of our self-control. But not the blind rage of wildly hitting the nearest pillow (or person) or of hectic activity: rather the clear-sighted rage of initiative arising from the connection between our readiness to face conflicts and our awareness. Exactly where each person finds their field of action at this point is not necessarily the concern of therapy, although feedback and dialogue about these matters are important. The core task of therapy is to liberate energy and to increase awareness. Both together transform that vague anxiety of being lost in the dark into a specific fear of a concrete threat. Once the danger has been identified and flight made impossible, only struggle remains. By necessity, readiness to act on environmental concerns entails willingness to engage in conflict. Energy flows into the argument and the argument in turn energizes.