Anxiety – the state of feeling fear for something that may or may not occur.
Chronic anxiousness is known as anxiety disorder.
At any given time, about 6.8 million Americans have anxiety disorder.
So, 3.1% of the American population is in a state of constant fear and uneasiness. All of this taking place in one of the safest, most-civilized nations in the world. We have structure, modern-conveniences, (mostly) non-back-breaking jobs and careers, non-harmful entertainment, and pretty good healthcare. We practically live in these little safe “bubbles” – all we’re concerned with is waking up, doing our menial school-work or job, and going home to eat and sleep. So what’s there to fret over? Why so much anxiety?
In this book I’m reading called The 50th Law, by Robert Greene and 50 Cent, the authors discuss how, like I’ve just said, we live in a safe environment when compared to other countries and to other periods of time. The authors talk about how fear was essential for survival – it kicked the fight or flight response, and told your brain that “you’ve got to do something now and fast, or else.” And, it has served humans very well throughout history. However, with our level of safety and security, there’s less danger, and subsequently urgency for “survival-instincts” to kick in.
So, back to my question – what’s causing us so much stress and anxiety?
Frankly and objectively, not that much. We’re not hunter-gatherers anymore, living out in nature, surviving day-by-day through hunting animals and scavenging for edible plants. Back then, if a man felt fear, it was because dangerous animals were threatening his life, or because of a lack of food was brought on by bad hunting. We, as modern-day humans, sleep in warm, cozy beds, inside warm, cozy shelters. All of our food is conveniently located and easily accessible in supermarkets. For a good chunk of the population, we work indoors, 9-to-5, always ensured of a paycheck.
This is the modern-day rat race – and it scares the living hell out of us.
We still have fear, and more importantly, endless fear, in our lives. Some examples include: not getting an interview, losing of a job, not having other people’s respect, not making enough money for bills, getting a house foreclosed by the bank, not losing weight and appearing attractive, and the never-ending “analysis-paralysis” which makes us unable to choose between “this or that”.
Sure, these are legitimate concerns, some being more serious than others. If they do end up happening, these events can make our lives quite less cozy and comfy. No one ever wants to lose a house, get sick, get stuck in a crap college, or so on. However, these aren’t events that can take away our lives. Bad things can happen, but life always moves on, and people live.
For some reason, we are still consumed by this fear. This never-ending, seemingly-unprovoked fear manifests itself into constant worrying, inability to relax or make good decisions, and practically paralyzes us. This is what anxiety is.
Maybe, it is because silly things such as society’s expectations and status-quot are ingrained in our heads form an early age, and God forbid we ever make a mistake, everyone will judge us for being a screw-up. We’re worthless and disappointing if we ever lose a house or don’t go to a good school. Trivial crap such as our hairstyles or outfits dictate whether we’re “cool” or not – and shame on us for not being “cool”.
Instead of being productive, doing the things we truly love, and becoming the people who we want to be, we are imprisoned by these irrational thoughts. We are so fearful, that even if we’re doing things correctly, we’re still crazy-afraid of negative consequences.
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but what I say is, if you’re not risking death, there’s nothing to be worried about. It’s just useless anxiety.
When you start worrying about something, ask yourself this – can I die from what might happen? If your answer is no, bravely step out of your house, raise both your hands into the air, give two middle-fingers to the world, and carry on with your day as confident, anxiety-free person.