Anxiety is not absolute

Marriam-Webster defines anxiety as: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill.

Believe me when I say this, it is not easy to do the thing that makes the most sense to anyone else when dealing with anxiety. Especially when facing someone we know does not particularly care for us or how they affect us. An article by Karen Young on Sigmund.com explains anxiety works by using a solid collection of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’ to haul even the strongest, bravest mind from a present that feels manageable and calm, to a future that feels uncertain and threatening. Experiment with staying fully present in the moment. Anchor yourself by opening up your senses. What do you see, feel, hear, taste, know? Stay with what is actually happening, rather than what might happen.

Anxiety is our natural response to a rapidly evolving environment. Although often seen as a fight-or-flight concept, anxiety is based more on “perceived” threats and what we do than it is based on actual “present” threats and what we see. At first this might seem counter-intuitive, but experience has taught me otherwise. It is our ACTIONS (not our desires) which determine results. Actions are based on how we individually feel, and we have a personal choice we can make about how we feel regarding changeable circumstances. My personal example occurred when I was a young NCO stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. One day while driving, I approached a green light and before I knew it a small sports car ran a red light and I T-boned that BMW. I immediately thought “Damn, what did I just do?” Fortunately, it was not a fatal accident despite me striking the passenger side of her car. For a couple weeks after that accident, every time I entered an intersection my mind raced back and forth to stress about the incident.

Although I wasn’t at fault, I couldn’t help but feel responsible for breaking this girl’s leg. I was macho and in my 20’s at the time so I tried to tell myself on the outside it wasn’t a big deal, but it truly bothered me because I let it. Things like this truly bothered me because I felt at fault for just about everything that went wrong not only in my own life but in anyone else’s life as well. Remember, anxiety comes from how we “choose” to perceive things. Although difficult, if we choose to perceive things differently in response to the feeling of anxiety and change our course of ACTION we will achieve the ability to change our circumstances. No one is going to remove our problems for us. If talking to the pretty girl at Starbucks causes us to shut down mentally, it is because we told ourselves we are not good enough to talk to her. If we are able to convince ourselves we are not only as good as everyone else but amazing in ways others can appreciate as well, then why wouldn’t we feel natural talking to the pretty girl in Starbucks? Especially since she should be the one to tell us no.

Anxiety is NOT absolute

Many people believe an incident must be in progress for one to experience and then address our anxiety from within but the reality I have observed is the feeling of anxiety comes through past experiences and not new and expanding knowledge. According to the psychology dictionary (psychologydictionary.com, 2015) Anxiety may be distinguished from real fear both conceptually and physiologically, although the two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably in everyday language.

When we feel anxiety, we are responding to our bodies informing us of a perceived notion and the response is causing pain or discomfort due to a standard previously established. Rather than ignoring the response and addressing the circumstance causing the anxiety to begin with, we often get stuck in a vicious cycle of response-withdrawal behavior versus simply learning to maintain momentum and press through experiences of uncertainty. That is how we overcome the feelings that come from our perception of anxiety.

You’re Welcome. Internet.

External Links:

M.S., P. (2015, June 23). What is ANXIETY? definition of ANXIETY (Psychology Dictionary). Retrieved from https://psychologydictionary.org/anxiety/

Young, Karen ( 2019). Dealing with Anxiety: Using the Strength of an Anxious Mind to Calm Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.heysigmund.com/dealing-with-anxiety-anxious-mind-calm/

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