Dictionary.com defines it as one of three things:
- Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.
- Earnest but tense desire; eagerness.
- A state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.
Fear of danger. This part of the definition really struck me. Danger when it comes to anxiety, is not actually apparent. ‘Danger’ in this context, is usually an unknown factor that our minds perceive as ‘dangerous’. The result is an apprehension that, when focused on, turns into anxiety. Alternatively, fear is the associated feeling to apparent danger. For example, you may feel fear when you’re skiing down an intensely steep mountain, jumping off a cliff into deep water or on a roller coaster. You may feel fear thinking that you could get hurt or that the adventurous act may not end well. The danger in this situation is physical hurt and the odds are high.
Anxiety, however, isn’t triggered by these types of dangers. Anxiety is triggered by unknown dangers. For example, quitting your job, public speaking, a break up. The dangers in these instances are perceived. Quitting your job itself isn’t dangerous. It’s the follow up after you’ve quit your job that causes apprehension and leads to anxiety. Similarly, public speaking isn’t dangerous. It’s the apprehension of being laughed at or not doing well that causes anxiety. A break-up isn’t dangerous. It’s the fear of being alone or losing someone you love that causes anxiety.
So if the danger that causes anxiety is unknown, what if we make this danger known and then face it – like we would face any fear. Would this help us conquer our anxieties?
The two things that, in my opinion, are important to keep in mind with anxiety are:
- You’re not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in America. It affects one in five people, with women being twice as likely to be afflicted as men, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- There’s a solution. You can solve your anxiety. But it has to come from you. I truly believe, that you can conquer your anxiety by facing it. Get really real with yourself. Sit down with yourself everyday and meditate. Empty that mind and slowly you’ll get to the core of what you’re feeling apprehensive about. Once you know what that is. Find the tools you need to face that fear. Control it instead of letting it control you.
Your mind is truly limitless. You can conquer anything that you really focus on. Be kind to yourself. Take the time to listen to your fears. And then deal with them like you would deal with any other project in your life. Take it by the horns, make a plan and watch that tightness in your chest disappear. I know it will.