I Talked To A Behavior Expert And Learned So Much About My Anxiety
Two years ago, I barely knew what anxiety was. Today it permeates most of my life.
My first panic attack was sickening and confusing.
That vivid moment of gripping at my chest and feeling my body go into what appeared to be a heart attack, still lingers in my mind.
I barely understood anxiety back then. And still, almost two years on, as I navigate the persistent ‘beast’ that is my anxiety disorder, I’m continuing to learn about this psychological and physical condition. And I’m not alone. It’s estimated one in 13 people suffer from anxiety globally, making it the most common and yet, so often misunderstood, mental health disorder in the world.
Dr. Demartini, a world-leading human behavior expert and author of The Values Factor About Anxiety, is one of the few experts in his field who readily addresses the more loaded questions most medical professionals don’t always know the answer to. So I sat down with him to learn more about my ‘beast’, with the hopes of discovering a new perspective on it…
What exactly is anxiety,?
“Anxiety is a form of secondary or tertiary fear. Fear is the assumption that you are about to experience in the near or far future through your senses or imagination, more pain than pleasure. Anxiety arises because of associations made with a previously occurring experience that was subjectively perceived to be more negative than positive.
Any imbalanced and painful perception of the past can initiate a fear of it or something secondarily associated with it reoccurring in the future.”
What are some of the common causes of anxiety?
“Any initial event perceived to be associated with more negative than positive, more painful than pleasureful, more challenging than supportive, more loss than gain or more drawbacks than benefits, can become the base for an anxiety response.”
Why does anxiety often come on suddenly, when there appears to be no obvious trigger?
“There may not appear to be an emotional trigger to your anxiety response, but there actually is. It is just not conscious, due to being a secondary association, derived from to a previously seemingly unrelated painful event.
For instance: If a small boy witnessed his father – who was wearing blue jeans and a white shirt with brown hair and a moustache – screaming and violently beating his mother, he could become frightened and run and hide under his bed to survive the ordeal. On the day that follows, his mother could take him to the grocery store, and, while going down an aisle, another man that knows the mother could approach her and speak. Since the approaching man is wearing blue jeans, a white shirt and has brown hair and has a moustache similar to the father, the child could begin to feel anxious because of the secondary associations made with his father.
As new associations keep occurring with at least one or two of the original features it could trigger varying degrees of avoidance anxiety. Eventually, hundreds of secondary associations can be made that trigger mild anxieties without the boy seeing the direct connection to the original event between the parents. As long as the original event has been stored in the subconscious mind without being balanced or neutralized, it can trigger lasting anxieties.”
What are your best tips for managing anxiety?
“Identify what specifically it is that triggers your anxiety reactions, and then identify the original fearful event or stimulus behind them. When the original stimulus is identified, discover what were the benefits it provided; how has it served you and helped you fulfill what is most important to your life?
It’s never what happens to you, it’s how you perceive it. We don’t have to be victims of our history, we can be masters of our destiny, by taking command of our perceptions. We can make our once assumed hell into an opportunity, if we take the time to find out how it serves us.
One of the greatest questions we will ever ask on a daily basis, is. how is whatever I am experiencing today helping me fulfill what is most meaningful to me? If you ask that question and never give up on that question, you liberate yourself from a lot of baggage, and anxiety and depression can be melted away.”
So, is it possible to “cure” anxiety?
“The answer is yes. By peeling the onion back toward the original event that induced the initial fear or so-called trauma, or going directly to the initial event and balancing out the perceptions of the event to dissolve the fear, you can in turn dissolve the anxiety, in many cases immediately.
Comment: What is the most interesting thing you have learned about anxiety?