How do you deal with the “normal” anxieties and stresses that face you all the time? Stress and anxiety are appropriate for the well being of the individual and sociaety.
Problems arise when the stress or the effect of the stress wreak havoc with your “normal” living process.
The slightest thing can trip you over into a postion that is difficult for you to handle. The secret is to know that and be prepared for those times.
I was talking to a man in Baghdad by Skype recently and suddenly I heard a loud banging, thundering sound… startled, I asked what it was… (it was a bomber and helicopter landing nearby) he said he did not even notice it. He is so used to hearing it that his response was nil. My response was, in Sydney Australia, concern and questioning… wondering if he was safe. So even when I know I am safe I have reaction, probably founded in empathy, that expresses fear for another.
Once we know we are safe we carry on. However, if we don’t find out about “safe or not” we will begin to do something in order to … make ourselves safe. Worry. This is the human condition and connects up with all kinds of things talked about at choosingchange… how to keep safe… physically and psychologically when things go wrong… or at least when we perceive things to be going wrong.
Primarily this page is concerned with the psychological safety we are all attempt to achieve and maintain.
Is it ever right to be anxious?
It is normal to be anxious if if we feel threatened or stressed:
- you will begin to anticipate and plan,
- your heart rate will probably increase,
- your hormones will act differently,
- you may sweat in preparation for flight or fight,
- your breathing will be faster so you can get more oxygen,
- prolonged stress affects how your stomach works,
- your immune system operates less effectively,
- you may experience aches and pains more often.
Existentially the experience of anxiety is linked directly to uncertainty. In uncertain and risky times you will experience anxiety… either from the external threat (sound of the bomber) or an idea you have formed in your mind (Is he cheating on me?).
Your world view (how you have determined you and other people “Should” behave) determines how you act… react.
If you are a constant worrier you will be slowly eating away at your defences… your immune system will be be disadvantaged and slowly your blood cells will work less effectively at defending you against biological threats. Just something else to worry about you worriers.
What is good about being anxious?
On the positive side of this frightening scenario I have outlined is the way our anxiety can help us. Actors embrace anxiety and “nerves” using their fear to give them an edge in their performance.
I cannot imaging bungy jumping without the fear/excitement which accompanies that experience. I cannot imagine bungy jumping… it is too fearful for my imagination even if I am a New Zealander, home of the bungy jumping, because the worrying aspect overrides the joy.
It is suggested that far from denying your anxiety it is advantageous to embrace your nervousness and organise strategies that allow you to use it effectively. How you view your worrying is how you “are” in the world and how well you manage difficult times.
Is this a challenge or is this a threat?
Is this a life threatening challenge or an exciting and educating experience that will enhance your well being?
Frankly… it might be worth pointing out that making sure you have chosen the “right” response could determine your future.
If the scare is life threatening you will hopefully respond in a way that saves your life… blindly walking on down the to the end of the plank and plunging into the never ending chasm will not be helpful.
Determining the differences between life threatening and life enhancing is the job of the adult human being.