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EP11 – What is Anxiety?

Today talking about anxiety. This is an emotion that everybody suffers from yet in the last few years there appears to be an explosion of people with different types of anxiety disorders. You see many many Facebook groups where there are 40,000 people or more in each group. Anxiety is on people’s minds, literally.

Now, this episode isn’t to attack those people. Though When you try to explain what the problem really in their head they hit a wall of cognitive dissidence that causes them even more anxiety and fear and they claim that you are attacking them. When in all reality I am attacking the thought error.

So if you suffer from some type of anxiety disorder and you are listening to this hold tight I am trying to help. That help comes in my own hamfisted way.

What is Anxiety?

Healthline.com says that anxiety is the following

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.

Healthline.com

When a person says everybody gets anxiety, they are correct. Every time I am driving my Semi through Downtown Dallas I get tense and I have thoughts of what is this dude beside me going to do. I see in my head that little Mazda stopping and I am not able to stop in time. Those thoughts and more race through my head.

It is easy to get caught up in the what-ifs and those thoughts you are having create stress. Many times I find myself in different thought loops and if I don’t stop I see how you can really get carried away. The stress can be horrible. Yet there are ways you can stop those thought loops

It’s an emotion

Anxiety as many other negative feelings is one thing they are emotions. Emotions are nothing more than vibrations made from a thought. I have mentioned before that no event is either good nor bad till you apply thought to it. The same goes for new situations you find yourself in. You apply thoughts to what you see and that thought generates an emotion that corresponds with that thought.

You walk down a dark alley, never recommended by the way, and you see a man walking towards you. Your mind starts running different thoughts. Many of these thoughts are from your amygdala or lizard part of the brain.

So the amygdala applies what it knows and does best. You are in an unknown area and this guy could hurt you. He may be just walking down the same alley but maybe he is hunting you. Is he hunting you? Is there something in his hand is that a knife or an envelope? You don’t know. You lizard part of your brain starts telling you to get out of there. Its screaming run doesn’t walk. It wants you to skedaddle and head for the hills.

Another scenario is you walking into a new job. People see someone new in the office, and they look. All of a sudden the same part of your brain starts coming up with reasons that this is dangerous. They don’t like you already. Are they laughing at you? Why isn’t anybody talking to you? do you smell? Did you dress wrong? All of these questions are popping into your head. It is stressful.

Maybe you have a bad experience at a new school you found your bully the very first day and he gave you a swirly or something worse. You may apply that experience to this. This is where many anxiety disorders come into play. You may panic and go hide in a broom closet, or maybe you just don’t talk to anybody out of fear.

It wont kill you

Anxiety can feel horrible. It can cause you to sweat or tremble. You may have some type of meltdown and have a panic attack. You can actually regulate the stress by realizing that the experience isn’t going to kill you.

As mentioned before it is an emotion. The vibration you feel may make your adrenal glands kick in and raise your heart rate but you are not going to die because you have anxiety and sadly many people fear and resist the sensation that they are feeling.

I talked about how many people now take anti-anxiety meds to help keep from feeling anxiety. Then they wonder why their sex drive falls off the chart. Why they have a hard time relating to other people. That is because anti-emotional drugs kill off emotions.

Yes, there are times when you need antidepressants if you are working through something traumatic. but killing off your emotions forever isn’t a healthy route either. It kills off the anxiety but it also stops your other emotions too. Those are needed to have a feeling of connection. Anything you “feel” is an emotion. So you are also blocking that feeling of connection with other people.

Causes

There are many different reasons a person can start having a sensation of anxiety, but I want to cover the 5 overarching causes.

Thought loop that revolves around maybe or what if

We have roughly 60,000 thoughts a day. Many of these thoughts don’t even realize we are making them. We see a suit that looks really sharp on a guy we think nice suit. Then again someone may have their hair messed up and we wonder what they were doing last night.

These unfocused thoughts are a lot like a toddler with a scalpel. Very cute but can cause a lot of harm. It helps if you can start paying attention to what you are thinking.

Without paying attention to your thoughts you may suddenly start thinking of a time where you were in a similar situation and that can kick off the anxiety and from there if you don’t pay attention to what you are thinking your thoughts start to go around in a circle getting more elaborate each time.

Over thinking

with those 60,000 thoughts, we can often start getting carried away. We suddenly start thinking that everybody is out to get you. The boss yells at you for a huge mistake you made. Instead of taking the grilling and walking on you start making up stories in your head that the boss hates you and is now going to be gunning for you to be let loose. Is it possible? yeah. Is it likely? No. He wanted to let you know that you messed up and he wants you to perform at your best. So he used some harsh language to fully convey to you that he was displeased.

Thought loop errors

This goes with the overthinking. Say you are in heavy traffic, and cars are all around you. You start thinking of someone who may crash into you. You know that is a chance but again you think it over and over and overbuilding on that though till you know the person beside you is made at you! why? You don’t know but you have a good suspicion that he is about to run you off the road.

These thought loops are often associated with PTSD but we don’t always have to have a traumatic experience to experience thought loop errors. Look at any parent when their new driver is late by 15 minutes. We start thinking that junior is lying dead in a ditch with dirty underwear on.

Letting thoughts run free

This ties back to all the other thoughts we often have so many thoughts that we don’t even pay attention to. Some are automatics like grabbing your favorite type of bacon.

Yet we often let other thoughts run free that don’t need to be running unregulated. These thoughts are the core of the problem. If you can pay attention to what thoughts you are having when you sense anxiety coming on and think that thought through you will see the fallacy of where you’re going wrong. Most of the times we have no basis for our fear and that thought can be disrupted.

Devices?

Could it also be tied to the devices we are using? Well, anything is possible. You take heroin away from a junkie they have a tendency to get rather anxious and stressed out. Now the people who are way smarter than me are just now starting to look at studies about how the devices affect our psyche. Yet, I know there have been times that I had a bit of a panic when I left my phone at the house. So there are times that I actually leave my phone behind on purpose. Just as a means of having a mini digital detox.

Anxiety Disorders

There are several different anxiety disorders from different phobia’s and I mean the real phobias, not the made-up social justice phobias people like to talk about. There are also disorders like PTSD and OCD. These often cause big problems and though these are real anxiety disorder these are not the types of anxiety that I am talking about.

I am more talking about Social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety and illness anxiety, which use to be known as a hypochondriac. These are the different types of disorders that are fixable, not that the others aren’t because I have seen people with PTSD realize that the disorder doesn’t have them. I am talking about these disorders as being a thought loop problem. They allow their thoughts to just run free and make a mountain out of every single molehill they find.

Now, these can become full-fledged disorder because the more you indulge these wrong thoughts the more you start to make your brain use to that situation and when your brain gets used to that thought loop it can actually make that thought a habit which means that your thoughts will kick in the lizard brain whenever it can. There is a way to stop anxiety

Stopping Anxiety

Breathe

This is important because if you forget to breathe that makes your anxiety even worse. That’s because no not only will the saber tooth tiger get you but you are suffocating yourself at the same time. You cant think clearly if you don’t get oxygen to the brain. So breathe deep and slowly.

When you are not in a state of high stress try meditating. you can use apps like Calm or Oak app both do great guided meditations that strengthen your ability to track what you are thinking and raise the awareness of your thoughts.

Stop resisting and experience the emotion

So many times people have a negative emotional experience as they fight against experiencing that emotion. Emotions are there for us to experience. Life is 50% pain and 50% pleasure. You have to allow yourself to experience the emotions.

Yeah, they may not be all that pleasant at the moment but like other exercises the more time you do it the easier it becomes.

Address the thought

Pay attention to what the thought is that is bringing on the anxiety. If you do you will see that often the thought has nothing to do with the current situation and if a case of you overreacting because your thoughts were wanting to just run wild.

The more you pay attention to the thought and address if this thought is actually valid the fewer times you will actually have long-lasting anxiety.

Allow the emotion to run its course.

Acknowledge what you are feeling gives it the label. There is nothing wrong with saying I feel anxious. That is all I am feeling. examine the emotion as you have it. Notice where you feel it. is it in your belly or in your shoulders? As you examine and accept that the emotion is there. it will run its course and you will be able to go on with your day

Apply a purposeful thought to the situation

Ask yourself is that really going to happen? Look at the thoughts you are having and actively question the thoughts. Yea you may feel a little weird talking to yourself but as you see and listen to what you are thinking about you will start to notice that you can change your thought about the situation and allow the emotion to fade away.

May as a last ditch effort need to use meds

Now if you are suffering from a free-running mind for a while you may have to take medication for it for a while. But do so with a doctor who only wants you do have the meds for a short time till you can change the habit of your thought process. That is where a counselor or therapist can come into play. Mix that up with a Coach and you have a winning combination that will help kick that habit of loose thinking to the curb.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.

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