Monday, December 7, 2009

Fear and Anxiety II

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

By now you might already know I have a little problem with the way we view reality.
It seems to me that in the past decades we have narrowed our point the view of reality to the “scientific” point the view only, leaving outside all the other points of view.
We therefore, define anxiety as follows:

“Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that occurs without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.”

There is a little problem with this definition.
Reality is not black and white as the definition may imply.
Between “fear” and “anxiety” there is a wide spectrum of emotional experiences I like to call “anxiety-fears” or “fear anxieties”
Let me give you some examples:
The fear of natural disasters and pandemics, the fear of social events – like a stock market crash or the fear of being laid off.

Those all are emotions that do not “fit” the classical definitions of fear or anxiety.
Is the fear of being laid off real or imaginary?
Which one is real today: The fear of the economy collapsing or the hope of the economy is rebounding?
There is no clear answer to that, hence my question. Are we then dealing with fears or anxieties?

The answer to that question is very important because that answer determine the course of action we have to take.
Obviously if you are dealing with fear, direct action is the proper course.
But what if you are dealing with a “fear – anxiety” like the fear of natural disasters?
Obviously direct action will not work – you can’t control a natural disaster – although we have attempted to – see the New Orleans and Katrina event.

“Nothing can be meaner than the anxiety to live on, to live on anyhow and in any shape.”

I live in California and I heard many time this remark:
“I don’t understand how people live California with the constant threat of earthquakes.”
The secret of taming that threat is a “proactive” attitude.
When you are facing a potential danger over which you have no control, you take control of the “consequences” rather than the danger.

Practically all buildings in California are built to withstand earthquakes.
On top of that all or the majority of Californians have “earthquake proofed” their houses and the majority of us have a large supply of food and water in storage just for that reason.

The “cure” for fear is direct action and the “cure” for anxiety is faith.
The cure for everything in between would therefore be a mixture of action and faith.
Obviously the more like anxiety your emotional state is, the less action will work and the more faith you need and vice versa.

“Anxiety is the rust of life, destroying its brightness and weakening its power. A childlike and abiding trust in Providence is its best preventive and remedy.”
(to be continued...)


Ted Bagley said...

Anxiety is akin to the death drive. :)

C. Om said...

True indeed! Excellent!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

I live in Calif. and I hear that question all the time is well. My answer is always the same. " If I worried about that I'd never have time to enjoy my life right now." Basically, live in the moment and don't worry about the past of the future. Great article by the way.

Chris Stonecipher said...

Excellent and informative post on anxiety. Anxiety can destroy our health and our perception of reality.