What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is simply defined as fear in the absence of anything to be afraid of, but how do we understand that?
Firstly, let’s take a look at what fear is…
All emotions have a reason for existing and generally that is to quickly and efficiently motivate the behaviour. Fear specifically operates like the body and mind’s alarm system. When there is a clear threat to our life or well being, fear motivates escape behaviours.
That’s what I call “valid fear”.
From the point of view of survival it makes sense for the fear system to be calibrated in the direction of “false positives” (you get frightened when there is no actual threat.) If fear was skewed in the opposite direction, no fear in the presence of a threat to survival, we may end up dead.
Ok, so humans are wired to be sensitive to fear, and more likely to develop anxiety than fearless-ness. There are lots of known reasons why some people are more sensitive to fear and anxiety than others, and we’’ll talk a bit more about that when we look in detail at “causes” (link).
But the short version is, sometimes, people are anxious about things that actually cause mild fear or nervousness but rather than feeling very mild nerves, or manageable fear, they feel overwhelming anxiety.
I call this “the volume knob problem.”
Other people can learn to feel afraid of things that most people don’t find frightening.
I call this the “learning problem”.
And others feel fear of due to one overwhelming and traumatic incident.
I call this the “PTSD problem.”
The good news is the solution to anxiety remains generally the same, learn to generate relaxation and approach fear provoking safe situations until we have given our brain a chance to learn that there is no threat.
Now you and I both know it isn’t, but with hard work it is possible!
These blogs will help and take you through a step by step process to manage your mind, body, behaviour and relationships to ‘unlearn’ anxiety.
Your hard work and my step by step program (that I am soon to launch on this site!) will help you overcome social anxiety.
TRUST ME – you CAN beat this elephant in the room !
Next post: The Problem of Avoidance