What is Anxiety?
As anxiety sufferers we tend to think of anxiety as that awful thing that plagues us every day of our lives. However, if you’re able to take a step back from how you feel on a day to day basis you might notice that ‘normal’ people have anxiety too!
So what is
Well, for a ‘normal’ person (and I hope you won’t be offended by me using that term) anxiety is your body’s normal response to a stressful situation.
It’s the feeling you get when your body responds automatically to a scary or threatening event. If you’re walking down a dark road and you hear footsteps behind you, your anxiety feelings may help you to get ready to either run away or fight if need be. (I expect you’ve heard of the phrase “fight or flight” before.)
We all experience anxiety from time to time. It’s normal and we would live a much more vulnerable life without it! The problem only comes if it begins to interfere with your everyday life. Of course it’s normal to feel anxious when you are facing something difficult or dangerous in your life, but it is certainly not usual to feel anxious all the time or for anxiety to rule your life.
When anxiety gets way out of proportion to the stressful situation that you find yourself in then it is considered to be 'abnormal'. Likewise, the same term would apply if your anxiety continues long after a stressful situation has gone.
So where does this anxiety come from?
Anxiety really comes from the subconscious mind, which is the part of your mind that deals in images, emotions, memories, smells and sounds.
This part of your mind is very powerful, and its one purpose is to keep you safe in life. It is your Inner Guardian, although when you experience anxiety it may not feel like it!
The power of the subconscious mind is such that it files away every detail of your daily life which it can recall at any time. So many years later you may find that it has mentally put you back in that particular place from all those years ago. These can be pleasant or unpleasant memories, positive or negative. Your unconscious doesn’t discriminate. It’s the same process at work all the time, regardless of the type of memory.
It’s not just about triggering memories of similar experiences in the past though. It may also be connected to a sense of not feeling in control in a situation, or perhaps an inability to cope with not knowing how something will turn out. Likewise, anxiety can arise suddenly, as in panic (or a panic attack), or gradually over many minutes, hours, or even days.
By the way, some of us may be a bit more prone to anxiety and worry than others, so don’t compare yourself to friends and family and think that you’re not ‘normal’.