Anxiety Issues: Eliminate Your Angst Once And For All
Research tells us that millennials are the most anxious generation to date. But, while life is undeniably – and unavoidably – stressful, you don’t have to rely on medication to curb your angst. The first weapon you have in your arsenal against anxiety is the understanding that it’s a derivative of fear.
Every one of us is subject to fear, going back to our days as hunter-gatherers. It resides in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for primal responses, and it’s largely governed by a concern that we might lose the things we want (objects, people and situations that bring us pleasure) or that we will gain things that we don’t want.
How does this relate to anxiety?
Simple. Whatever it is that’s making you feel anxious now – a relationship that’s not working out, a deadline that’s looming, a family issue that seems impossible to resolve – actually has its roots in something that happened to you years ago, probably during your childhood. That episode would have been sparked by one of your primal fears; either the fear of losing something you desire, or gaining something you don’t. But, over the years, it’s become conflated, confused and compounded, so anything that reminds you of it – even, or in fact, especially, at the sub-conscious level – sparks that unwelcome feeling of unease.
I’ll give you an example. Imagine that, when you were two years old, you watched your mom and dad having a fight. Things got nasty, and your dad may have been a bit aggressive with your mom – so, you saw the person you perceived as your sanctuary threatened. Time will have passed, and the incident will have been forgotten – but now, you’ll notice that every time you see a man who resembles your father, you feel a bit uneasy. The resemblance may not even by physical; he could simply be wearing clothes similar to your dad’s, or maybe there’s an aspect about him that recalls something about your father. For instance, maybe your dad has brown hair and a mustache, and was wearing a blue shirt on the day of the fight. You might find yourself feeling awkward around any man with blond hair and a mustache, or brown-haired mustachioed men wearing red shirts, because they somehow bring that incident back into your sub-conscious.
It usually takes a therapist to peel back and unearth the original episode that laid the foundation for your anxiety. You may, however, be able to uncover it if you focus on the contents of your mind at the exact moment you feel anxious. Most often when you’re exposed to moments like these, the instinct is to retreat into the reflexive, reactive amygdala, and this perpetuates the anxiety.Your task now is to bring the thought to the forefront of your brain, where executive function helps to rationalize it. Introspect for a moment, and you’ll find that the incident has a different side to it; one that you needn’t fear. In fact, you might even be able to reframe it – and, in so doing, clear yourself of the anxiety that clouds it for good.
Who Is The Writer?
Dr John Demartini is a human behavior specialist, educator, international best-selling author and founder of the Demartini Institute. Visit Dr Demartini’s website for more information.
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