Stress & Anxiety

Perspectives on Chronic Anxiety

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.
If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
Robert Albert Bloch

What Is Chronic Anxiety?

Perspectives on Chronic Anxiety focuses on how you can overcome chronic anxiety by identifying the root cause of your fear. Anxiety is identified as fear of what might happen in the future.

What's the Problem? 

Chronic anxiety begins with fear. Consider this definition by Medical News Today:

Anxiety disorders may be caused by environmental factors, medical factors, genetics, brain chemistry, substance abuse, or a combination of these. It is most commonly triggered by the stress in our lives.
Usually anxiety is a response to outside forces, but it is possible that we make ourselves anxious with "negative self-talk" - a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen.

Although this sixty-two word definition names five possible causes of anxiety disorders, it overlooks the foundational definition of anxiety.

Anxiety is identified as fear of what might happen in the future. Look at dictionary definitions of anxiety and you will see that fear lurks within the definitions, even if the word itself is not used. Here are two examples:

Google defines anxiety as:

A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. has similar definitions:

A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
A state of intense apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation, often to a degree that normal physical and psychological functioning is disrupted.

These definitions describe anxiety as fear of what could happen in the future. Such language obscures the fact that chronic “anxiety disorders” began with fear in the past.

The Life-Changing Question

How would your life change if you change your perspective on chronic anxiety in your life by thinking carefully about the reality that your anxiety about the future began because of trauma in the past?

Trauma can range from experiences we all identify as a traumatic, such as surviving a plane crash or wartime combat. Trauma can also result from life-changing experiences that are not as dramatic but are also profoundly disrupting and fear-producing. The result is an enduring fear-filled memory in your body, your mind, and your emotions. The essence of chronic anxiety is life-changing fear of the future based on what happened in the past.

The old proverb about “locking the barn door after the horse is stolen” gets to the essence of why chronic anxiety becomes a way of life with no end in sight. The proverb is about actions taken too late to prevent some sort of harm. No amount of actions to lock the barn will help recover the stolen horse.

Think carefully about your fears of what might happen in the future. For example, if your fear began when you were a child in a dangerous family, what is the likelihood that you will experience the same harm again as an adult? How would your life change if you choose to think about your life from the perspective of an adult rather than the perspective of a vulnerable child?

The life-changing question is:  How can you liberate yourself from chronic anxiety about what might happen in the future and focus your attention on living confidently in the present?

Note to Reader

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