What we call anxiety is a set of feelings that can come from many different sources.
A knot the stomach, tightness in chest, shoulder pain or headaches, can all be physical signs that go with ‘Anxiety’.
Going back over what’s happened or conversations
Unable to switch off – mind racing
Beating self up over things we feel went wrong
Holding on to upset even years after something happened
Avoiding social occasions due to bad feelings
etc. etc. etc.
There are a lot of ways it can show itself.
However, these responses are not necessarily what we think of as ‘Anxiety’.
They are responses we commonly get when the mind and body create a stress response.
Anxiety is one way that this can come about, but we can feel the same sort of things from issues such as trauma, stress, overwhelm, etc.
They all use the same systems to put us on alert, to get us to over-focus on something in case it’s a danger. That’s the real function of most anxiety. It ‘winds us up’ to high alert to make sure we spot anything we feel may harm us, whether it’s really a problem or not.
It’s usually a good system that is stuck ‘switched-on’ and never shuts off.
If we’re falling on ice it’s the system we need. If we’re in danger of being burned it’s exactly what should be happening.
The problem is that for people who have developed what we call anxiety the system is switched on all the time and tries to make us aware of and on alert about everything.
That then looks for ‘what’s wrong now’ and even if there isn’t anything wrong it responds as if something is. A conversation might be overanalysed to where we generate bad feeling about nothing. ‘Did I say the wrong thing’, did I sound stupid’, ‘should I have said hello sooner or left later?’
That feels like stupid stuff that makes no sense begins to make sense when we realise the system behind it.
If everything is put through a filter of ‘I must find what is wrong now’ then everything can be made to feel like a problem.
This is what I see most often in people who suffer anxiety, and what I experienced for over 37 years myself.
In the next post I’ll talk about the ways this can come about and what the other things that feel the same are.
Hope this is of interest. Please feel free to comment or ask a question. I intent to keep going writing on this as time allows over the coming weeks.
All the best,