Wednesday, July 12, 2006

High anxiety

Mills of the gods

My daughter called from camp at 12:30 last night in a highly anxious state.Something was going to happen the next day (today) that she did not want to do and she wanted to come home. It was easy to recognize the voice of anxiety, primarily because it resides within me a good deal of the time. Anxiety and I are old friends. Not real good friends, but old friends. He has helped me out on occassion so I can't turn my back on him, but on the whole, I do wish he would go away.

Anxiety is part of the "old brain" the one that told our ancestors (the ones who probably did not walk on two legs) to "fly or fight". It is still hard wired up there, and it competes with the rational thinking part of the brain that has come along since we crawled out of the promordial ooze. Without anxiety, you and I would not be here today. We would have looked on curiously at the saber tooth tiger that was closing in on us ,instead of running away or getting out a club to defend ourselves.Even today, it has some pretty darn good uses. But like the appendix, it most often presents itself as a problem.For me, a big problem.

Anxiety is nothing except the reification of our fear. It makes concrete for us, that which goes "bump in the night". I use the bump in the night term for the reason that night time anxieties are always the worst. Catastrophe can pile upon catastrophe at night and your rational self surrenders to the fear that envelopes it. It is always easier to fight fear in the light. That is actually the best advice to give someone that has anxiety. Turn on the light. Look at the issue as it really is, not as your ancestor the cave dweller perceived it. You will always have anxiety (unless you want to get run over by a car at the next cross walk) but remeber that anxiety is the evolutionary loser to the reasoning brain. The very reason we struggled to the top of the food chain is due in no small part to the fact that we have partially overcome it. So let's (and I am really telling myself this) switch on the light and face the fear for what it really is, not what we build it up to be. Evolution is depending on us !


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