Perspective About Anxiety

For a long time, my tendency to produce excess stress hormones frustrated me and sometimes upset me. Getting upset or frustrated is, of course, just more of the same — the tendency to make too many stress hormones. This is a very important point: The way you and I look at our tendency to overproduce stress hormones has an influence on it, good or bad. As Allen Fay wrote in his book, Making Things Better By Making Them Worse:

Irrational fears…occur in virtually every human being. I cannot stress enough the importance of the universal perspective. Without it you isolate yourself from humankind, consider yourself a pariah, lower your self-esteem, and make it harder to resolve whatever difficulties you are having.

A tendency to drift toward anxiety is like being in a car that tends to drift to the right. As long as you know your car has that tendency, and as long as you stay on top of it, there's no problem. It's when you forget about it or stop paying attention that you start mowing down mailboxes.

You may wish you didn't have everyday anxiety. I know I do. But it isn't that bad. There are worse problems to have. "It might help if we remind ourselves that no one is entirely free of problems," say the authors of the book, Embracing the Fear: Learning To Manage Anxiety and Panic Attacks, "Some people have tension headaches or a chronic illness; we get a rush of adrenaline at unexpected times."

Because adrenaline is so prone to self-feeding loops, it makes a big difference how you look at your condition. You don't want to disregard it and try to convince yourself it is temporary because you'll be faced with frustration when it doesn't go away.

It sounds like a terrible life sentence to call it a condition. But once you stop running from it and accept it, you realize it's not so bad. It all depends on how you look at it. In this case, how you look at it will make it worse or better, very directly and dramatically. And how you look at it is up to you. You can be self-righteous and stick with your conclusions, and you will suffer the consequences: Your condition will be worse. Or you can accept these new perspectives (or something better) and you'll make it easier on yourself:

1. It's just a tendency to drift toward anxiety and if you stay on top of it, you can live a calm, happy life.

2. There are worse problems to have.

With these two perspectives, you will relieve yourself of the added stress of your own perspective. Your situation will improve. How things look to you has a lot to do with how you look at things.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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