Modern people often use the word “anxiety” to describe themselves, so what exactly is it? Let’s try to imagine a scenario.
At this moment, please try to imagine…
One day you go home, walk into the elevator, and just press the button on the floor you want to go to. The moment the elevator door is about to close, you see a neighbor just walking to the elevator door. : Come out, come out.
Before the neighbor could speak, the elevator door was already closed. You are not sure what the neighbor is going to say. When you react and try to press the elevator door open button, the elevator has already started to rise. During the ascent, there is a sound that seems to have never been heard before. At this time, you are the only one in the elevator.
Imagine how you feel at this time.
Is your mind filled with thoughts of what the neighbor said and why the neighbor yelled to come out? Did the neighbor know there was something wrong with the elevator? Yes, why didn’t I hear the sound of the elevator just now? Oh my God, will the elevator suddenly stop?
You can’t control these voices in your head, and you can only stare at the floor number change; you also want to try to press other floors, but not sure if this will increase the risk factor. The time it took to get to the elevator by looking down at your phone for a while now becomes especially difficult; your hands and feet start to sweat, your heart is racing, and your legs are trembling slightly.
Finally, your floor arrived, the door slowly opened, and you immediately jumped out.
Well, the story is finished. What do you think the second person “you” in the story has just experienced? Yes, anxiety. The anxiety of a situation.
Anxiety arises when a person feels threatened and insecure in his world and feels powerless to do anything about it.
Why do I give this example? Have you noticed that behind the anxiety, there must be some kind of fear. But anxiety and fear are not exactly the same thing.
In the case of fear, the danger is visible and objective, while in anxiety, people are often worried about something uncertain, and in the state of anxiety, people tend to make arbitrary negative judgments.
Take an example.
When a person is sick, if he knows he has a very serious disease, he will be afraid; but if he is still waiting for the diagnosis, thinking that his illness may be serious, he will be anxious at that time. If fear is the normal reaction of a person facing real danger, anxiety is the overreaction in the face of a potential, or even imagined, danger.
So, please remember two things.
- First, that behind anxiety must be fear.
- Second, anxiety is our negative image of something that has not yet happened.
Understanding these two points is the basis for your understanding of anxiety.
So can we completely isolate anxiety and not let it happen?
Of course not. Anxiety itself, like fear and sadness, is a stress response, an emotion that cannot be isolated, and it too will disappear as things progress, just as in the example of the elevator ride just now, when you confirm that you are safe, the original anxiety disappears.
But in reality, there are times when you may feel that you are in a recurring, constant anxiety-inducing situation, always worrying about something.
- If you are a student, you always have reason to worry about your studies.
- If you are a worker in the workplace, you have reason to worry about whether your current job will satisfy your boss and whether you have a good future.
- If you are a mother, you may have reason to worry about everything about your children.
- If you are the breadwinner of the family, you need to worry and worry about things, and there will be more.
As we said earlier, anxiety comes from fear. Everyone has their own fear theme, and probably more than one; anxiety also comes from uncertainty; the busier we are, the more uncertainty we face, which is why, modern people are more prone to anxiety because we have many trigger points for anxiety.
The first thing I will tell you in this article is that anxiety is an emotion; you do not need to reject it or fear it at all; what you need is to face it properly and deal with it appropriately.
Anxiety in itself is not a bad thing, just like everyone’s body has the stress hormone cortisol. If you have too much cortisol, you will be too stressed and rapidly aging; if not, you may not be able to wake up normally in the morning.
So anxiety, as long as it is within a reasonable range, as long as it does not interfere with daily work life and communication, and does not lead to disruptive behavior, there is nothing wrong with it.
However, if you don’t know how to handle anxiety properly, problems may arise.
In reality, not all anxiety occurs with sweaty hands and feet and a racing heart, as described in the elevator story, but many times the anxiety is not so obvious or appears in a different form in your life. Generally speaking, there are three common scenarios.
The first situation ignoring and refusing to acknowledge the presence of anxiety.
The simplest example is that many people try to defeat anxiety consciously when it occurs by saying things like, “What’s to be afraid of, what’s to be afraid of?” “What is there to worry about?” What is there to worry about? But the real trigger of anxiety does not change.
It’s like a little girl who got her hair cut at the barber store and was afraid that her classmates would see it and laugh at her, and her parents reassured her, “It’s not ugly; it looks good.” This practice of pretending not to see may trigger greater anxiety outbreaks in the future.
In fact, when we consciously ignore or do not acknowledge anxiety, the body will send you signals: for example, at the moment, you may have a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and body trembling; in the long term, you may have irritability, diarrhea or vomiting, or a slight overeating, addiction to sweets and junk food.
Persistent anxiety can even change your state, such as becoming sensitive and irritable, impatient, low self-esteem, and easily agitated.
In the second case, avoid exposure to scenarios that can trigger anxiety.
For example, a person who has had an unpleasant experience with a tooth extraction will delay going to the dentist, and a person who is worried about not looking good enough will variously avoid blind dates.
Some people will tell themselves, “I’m not worried, I just don’t like it,” when their worries surface; for example, a single person will feel embarrassed to go to the prom and not go to the prom, saying they don’t like the fun.
In fact, behind these manifestations is a state of inhibition caused by anxiety, resulting in a lack of action, a narrow circle of life, and even limited thinking, making a person lack the ability to think, do, and feel.
The third situation is the rationalization of anxiety.
That is, to feel that anxiety is normal, a rational fear.
For example, what is wrong with an overly anxious mother, she is just caring for her child, ah. For example, many parents who follow the philosophy of not beating do not feel that they are wrong.
For example, mothers who are very concerned about etiquette and image and get furious when they see their children eating barely don’t think this is wrong, but rather they think it’s a high standard. This is to rationalize the anxiety.
You can interpret these situations mentioned earlier either as some way that people subconsciously fight anxiety or as a distortion of anxiety. In any case, these practices do not really solve the problem but bring other problems.
I’ll talk about exactly how to live with anxiety.
You who are reading this article may be in one of two situations.
One situation is that you clearly feel like you suffer from anxiety, and you want to do something to change that, so I have a set of psychological self-help methods for you here.
And another situation, anxiety will happen to you, but you feel it is not a big problem. You can cope with it, and I also suggest you learn to manage anxiety with this set of methods because you understand early your relationship with yourself, your relationship with the outside world, can be handled better.
A big part of what we often call emotional intelligence is our ability to perceive and deal with our emotions. At this point, anxiety emotion management, instead, can become an entry point for your self-discovery and self-breakthrough.
Before we get into the formal content of the article, I will share two core ideas of this lesson.
- First, your anxiety is a message that you need to translate. I will expand on this point in detail in the first lecture.
- Second, anxiety is a dynamic and comprehensive variable. If you describe anxiety with an equation, it goes like this: Increasing anxiety = increasing environmental stimuli + decreasing immunity to anxiety.
If you have recently found yourself getting more anxious, that is, your anxiety is increasing, it must be related to two factors, one is your increasing environmental stimulation, and one is your decreasing immunity. Seeing these two factors, then we can identify what is happening and what we should do.
The theme of this article is also designed to increase “immunity” and decrease the “environmental stimuli” in the equation.
You are welcome to join me and move on to the next article.