- In the Noonday Demon Andrew Soloman writes, " Depression is a response to past loss, anxiety is a response to future loss". However, the two states often feel similar.
This is because anxiety and depression share a single set of genes.
This set of genes lies close to the genes involved in alcoholism and certain eating disorders.
Anxiety is when we get stuck in this chronic fight or flight mode - we freeze. And how do we often tend to manage anxiety? Well, we tend to internalize it, to create this space where we can control what cannot be controlled. We might transfer it to our bodies, and believe that if we control our weight and shape, then we control our anxiety. Our we might develop other traits of overly controlling behavior - i.e. "perfect house-wife", "OCD guy" etc.
How do YOU manage anxiety?
Do you drink too much, work too much, obsess over your diet too much?
None of these ways do anything but suppress it temporarily.
We are only able to escape an obsession (always fear-based and anxiety riddled), when we can face the fears we might have...step by step... or bite by bite.
We cannot control our way out of anxiety.
- So first thing is to figure out what it is that we are so scared of.
- Then, we expose ourselves to it everyday, little by little.
When we no longer suppress our fear, it will ever so slowly evaporate. If we choose to suppress our fear, we will gradually need more and more control, restriction or drugs to keep our anxiety at bay.
Our stress-tolerance level gets smaller, the more control we try to impose.
And we impose more control in attempt to increase our stress-tolerance and eliminate our anxiety.
Yes, the "logic" of us humans is quite the paradox sometimes.
We decide it is time to let go and move on.
And we accept that many small steps will eventually take us to the top of the mountain, not overnight, but as the journey is tolerable, we will be able to breathe in the process and transform at a pace that is sustainable.
The key is to let go of intention and allow the relaxed flow of attention. That is how we manage anxiety in a healthy way that makes us grow rather than stunting our growth.