Tuesday, April 18, 2006
HIGH ANXIETY II
Anxiety is a normal emotional and physiological response to feeling threatened. There are two fundamental ways to deal with anxiety.
-AVOIDING THE PERCEIVED THREAT
Anxiety is a very unpleasant sensation. It is well-known that avoiding fear-provoking situations or activities stops anxiety and brings considerable relief from the symptoms. In other words, by not facing your fear you feel better. Why make yourself more anxious? It seems very sensible to take steps to avoid a fearful situation--at least in the beginning.
In the short-term avoidance may give you a sense of control and a feeling that you have conquered your anxiety and eliminated the threat.
Your feelings about this are incorrect. The threat doesn't usually go away because you close your eyes. But, it is true that you do feel less threatened for a brief time.
-CONFRONTING/FACING THE PERCEIVED THREAT
On the other hand, confronting the threat may temporarily increase your anxiety and is very uncomfortable. Obviously it takes a great deal of personal courage to face what one does not want to face. The thing is that it is not the anxiety that can kill you--no matter how bad it feels. It is the threat that you are anxious about that finishes you off--not the anxiety or fear you have.
Thus, anxiety is actually an emotional red flag that tells you something is threatening and that you have to do something about it. By focusing on the anxiety instead of the actual threat it signals, you put yourself at greater risk.
So, what shall we do?
Avoid the threat, close our eyes and pretend that it doesn't exist, and focus on something else?
Acknowledge the threat and Deal with it?
You can probably guess my recommendation.