What is anxiety?

I have been learning a lot about fear lately.

More than merely feeling  fear and "learning" that way, I have been digging in to the literature on the topic. Learning from those who study fear for a living.

Three definitions have proved inordinately helpful as I wrestled with my own thoughts and emotions of late.

Fear - The perception (thought) of imminent threat or danger to an individual's safety or security.

AnxietyAn enduring emotional state when individuals anticipate a personally aversive, unpredictable and uncontrollable future situation that is perceived (thought) to threaten their vital interests.

Worry A persistent chain of repetitive, uncontrollable thinking (there's that thought thing again!) that focuses on uncertain future negative outcomes. Also, repeated mental rehearsal (thought!) of possible solutions that fail to resolve the uncertaintly about the impending threat.

Recognize yourself in any of these definitions?

Sometimes the naming of things helps right-size them.

Putting into words what is going on in our minds is the first step in gaining some kind of upper hand over these thought processes that can feel overwhelming and overpowering when we are caught up in their vortex.

One thing I noticed with each of these definitions is that they all have to do with thoughts, perceptions and the imagined future we all create.

Now fear of an immediate danger is vital to life - think braking hard before you blow through a red light.

But all kinds of other fears - in my life at least - are simply made up. They are not reality. They are mere perceptions, thoughts I create.

All kinds of anxiety simply stems from me drumming up potential bad outcomes for future events I have either invented or over which I have little control.

Worry is merely a stubborn habit of my mind.

Naming these truths has been powerful for me. I hope they help you in some way, too.

More thoughts coming about ways I have been learning to help my poor, overworked, anxious mind in the midst of the uncertain times in which we all find ourselves.