Anxiety is our ability to predict danger and warn us about it. It gives us the opportunity to look into the future, anticipate problems, and take corrective action now in order to prevent bad outcomes.
For example, consider being worried about looking stupid at a party, or being afraid of failing a test, or being rejected in a job interview. All of these things are examples of our mind looking into the future, analyzing the situation, and warning us about danger so we can do something about it.
Sometimes people say that they have anxiety over the past. But if we tunnel down into that even then, anxiety is the anticipation of future consequences of a past action.
For example, one might say “I’m anxious about what I said at the party last night.” While that looks like a past-facing statement, it’s actually the underlying worry of what people WILL think about what this person said at the part earlier. Its the anticipation of what will happen as a result that causes anxiety.
Moreover, the smarter you are, the worse your anxiety will be. The more that your mind can compute potential futures, the more potential problems your mind will tell you to worry about.
Amygdala: primitive/servers a basic function
responsible for "fight or flight"
acts as the fear and survival of brain
prepares for survival
next to amygdala
close to the amygdala
the most powerful way to learn is through negative experience
ex: eating at a great restaurant, but one time with food poisoning is enough to make you avoid it like the plague
it is evolutionarily necessary
What happens in the brain during the anxious situations situation?
amygdala activates the danger circuit activates -> blood pressure increase, heart rate increases, pupil dilates, blood goes to muscles, blood move away from other things
the removal of blood from other things removes our complex abilities, cerebral cortices shut off
we go to primal responses vs sophisticated thought
we need black and white thinking which is needed for life-and-death situations
then the brain learns that specific events or enviroments is a warning sign for danger
such as a people looking at you in the eye, everyone staring at me
it is to prepary the body for the "danger ahead" and the body wants to avoid the specific environement or event
eventually with repeated exposure, the hippocampus will convert this feeling as a problem and create beliefs like that are related such as all attention whether bad or good is bad
even creating beliefs such as being invisible is good
this wiring becomes deeply rooted in the brains circuitry
ex: opening the door to a party and the brain senses the danger, activates the amygdala and physically affects your body displaying sweat and getting flushed
or raising your hand in class
some would say that this is social anxiety which is a mental illness, the brain is malfunctioning
but if you look into it, it is not malfunctioning and not mental illness, the brain is working fine but its is because the brain learning that being seen is being targeted
saying it's not a problem
sometimes you can have little battle to push it away
and it tortures you
it does not work because the amygdala that inhibit their cerebral cortex
the good arguments and the logic to help people change gets shut down because of the brain
this is torture because you can be at a safe place where you are calm and able to reason with the brain but as soon as you enter the triggering scenario/event, all the logic and prepartion means nothing
Going into the computer and forming social connections is easy because in real life there are eyes everywhere and eye contact is important but in game you do not have to be seen by anyone
it can be a good thing but also an addicting thing is that the danger signal is not activated
So what do we do?
the key is neuroscience and acknowledging that there is nothing wrong with you
then it is just rewiring the brain
all the pain shame, suffering makes it really hard to rewire and move forward
so acknowledging that nothing is wrong helps because there is no need for shame
notice instincts and notice reactions with meditation
we are not forcing himself to do something when it occurs, it is just noticing
forcing things leads to failure, and the more you force the harder you fail and the more shame you feel, and more shame causes a higher need to force
just practice and notice what happens
no shame in failing it is just practice
the more you notice, the more it subsides
see it run its course
fighting anxiety fuels it
letting it be starves it
noticing comes from frontal lobe and cerebral cortex
so trying to notice and practicing the noticing activities the parts of the brain that helps overcome that anxiety
frontal lobes allow us to plan an set and action
follow through comes from frontal lobes
so when you get anxious, and you start noticing you train yourself to keep your frontal lobs on despite being told to turn them off by the amygdala
the hippocampus will learn that being seen does nothing and there is not need to be in danger
activating frontal lobe
reduce self judgement
give capacity to fail without shame
you desensitize them to social situations and rewire the brain
Anxiety is a primitive yet important survival mechanism design to control behavior
used by ancestor to protect from tigers snakes and bears
of course they are gonna be powerful
If you have social anxiety it comes from the roots of early life,.
f you understood the neuroscience, the biology, and the process you can go about systematically dismantling it
Anxiety can cause a lot of suffering. However, since it is a part of our mind, we can tame it. We can learn to control it and activate it when we need it, instead of allowing it to control us.
Anxiety usually manifests in the form of future-facing thoughts. These thoughts typically have two components:
Therefore, an anxious thought is usually something like:
"Future Facing Thought + Ego/Self + Context of anxiety"
"What if I can't get a girlfriend/boyfriend?"
"Will I be good enough to pass the test?"
Anxiety can also manifest as physical sensations such as tightness in your chest, nausea, butterflies in your stomach, headache, sweaty palms, and/or shortness of breath.
Uncertainty is really frightening, and so we try to remove the uncertainty. We try to alleviate our anxiety by trying to control something in the future.
For example, if you crack a joke at someone’s expense, you might worry about offending them. Your mind will tell you to apologize just in case, even though they haven’t given you any reason to believe that they were offended. You might try to remove the uncertainty of that person being offended by trying to apologize just in case.
The other way we try to remove uncertainty is by not triggering it at all. If we avoid certain situations entirely, then we can control for any potential negative outcomes that could happen.
For example, if you don’t even show up at a party, then there is no chance for you to misspeak or say something stupid. You control the worry completely by avoiding the situation entirely. People might study really hard for a test if they are worried about failing it.
The problem is that oftentimes, our solutions for anxiety, and our desire to exert control is very restrictive and causes us to suffer. If you don’t go to the party, no one can think that you’re dumb because you’re not there, but then you end up never going to parties. You end up narrowing the scope of your life and restricting the things that you can do.
The trouble is that a lot of the time, anxiety has positive benefits. It can get you to study really hard for a test, even if you end up skipping all social events and staying up really late at night.
The other problem is that if we give in to our anxiety, we can become so concerned that we overcompensate and make the problem worse.
For example, if we’re worried that people don’t like us, and we apologize more profusely, which can be off-putting and annoying to other people, which makes people not like us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s our solution to our anxiety that creates more problems.
The other problem with anxiety is that if we give in to our anxiety too much, then we become easy for people to take advantage of.
For example, if you are too anxious, you might end up behaving a doormat: you might apologize too much and never stand up for yourself. Sometimes you will run across people who will never want to admit that they did anything wrong, and they will take advantage of you. It becomes a very convenient pairing for them.
Anxiety is also often rooted in some kind of insecurity.
For example, consider hanging out with your dog. Are your anxious? Why not? Its because you have confidence that your dog likes you as a person. Also consider why you do or do not feel anxious playing a competitive video game. You might be confident about your ability to engage in the game, even though you might win or lose. You have faith in yourself to face that uncertainty.
Anxious thoughts breed more anxious thoughts. This vicious cycle of growing anxiety is called rumination.
Moreover, anxiety is circular. This increase in thoughts fuels more thoughts, and over time this leaves the mind exhausted.
In contrast, a non-anxious thought process goes something like this:
Therefore, problem-solving is linear and results in fewer thoughts, which is relaxing compared to anxiety.
the obsession/thought loops relates to Raga (attachment or attraction)
although it sounds cold hearted to create distance sometimes it is for some people to deal with anxiety
distance is hard create but helps with Vairagya (detachment)
notice that you will not be calm until it is resolved the anxiety, and anxiety does not go away/gets resolved until the mistakes/feeling are resolved. And the next time a mistake is made again then the anxiety comes back
fighting the anxiety does not help
And feeding/resolving grows it because every time it comes up you listen to it and give it control in your life and need to resolve grows
you have to learn how to not give into the anxiety and how to shrink it
there are things that you struggle that you cannot do because of the amount of anxiety, and notice the feelings/the beast
noticing the feelings brings distance from the feelings
and the more distance you create the more you are detached
and as you grow detached you will be able to avoid fighting and resolving the feelings and instead letting it starve out. eventually the beast shrinks
you gotta look at the problem at a meta level
ex: someone comes into the psychiatrist office tells the psychiatrist that they only say nice things because they are a psychiatrist
and you can try to convince them that you do really care about the patient
to work with this problem is the look at it from a meta level and say that you have no idea how to express kindness authentically because what they said is irrefutable
and have them see that this is something that can see/change
you get into a situation where the psychiatrist sees the problem not being able to show kindness authentically, and look at the greater problem controlling the patients distrust which is the patient will irrefutably distrust the psychiatrist and adresss that there is no way to move on without some change.
the mind is designed to return equilibrium and it is the waiting game for anxiety
it is all up to your patience
anxiety naturally subsides
i want to stop caring is fine because it sounds like you need to distance yourself from those feelings of anxiety
for example, Epilepsy is when there is unregulated electrical activity in the brain, and when that happens your brain will return to equilibrium by tripping the circuit breakers in the brain and reset.
the same goes for feelings of joy and feelings of pain because they will not last forever
Since anxiety is the mind’s ability to think in the future, if we bring the mind into the present, it becomes impossible for anxiety to exist.
Good Ways to Cope
Bad Ways to Cope (Don't do these!)
The other interesting solution is that once you actually end up in situations where you have to engage, such as a party, if you can actually focus on the experience of engaging with people, the anxiety melts away. It’s the anticipation of engaging that keeps you stuck.
Therefore, the other solution to anxiety is to develop confidence. Consider how you try to remove the uncertainty to control your anxiety. However, that makes the problem worse because you never face uncertainty and therefore, never develop the confidence to face it. That means that every time life throws uncertainty at you, your anxiety gets worse.
So, if you can develop confidence to face uncertainty. Resolve your personal insecurity, so you don’t need to control your environment to alleviate anxiety. If you don’t need to control your life, your life becomes less restrictive, and you become more free.
AN important thing to keep in mind is to not argue with your anxious thoughts. If you argue with these thoughts, they will grow and create tension in your mind. Therefore, simply observing and letting the anxious thoughts pass and without trying to fight them is a great way to turn off the mind and prevent the anxious thoughts from multiplying.