This is why it’s so hard to feel better.
Anxiety is about more than feeling bad.
Anxiety is a physical state of emergency that causes a part of the brain to shut down. That’s why it’s impossible to “snap out of it” — even when there’s no logical reason for it.Whether you suffer from anxiety, or you’re trying to understand someone who does, this piece of knowledge will give you some insight into how to deal with it more effectively.
The emotional feeling of anxiety is caused by the physical sensations created by stress chemicals in the blood stream. The brain and body are in a state of fight-freeze-flight, which is caused by a flood of stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, pumping through your system.
One of the key effects of this emergency state is the shutting down of the prefrontal cortex of your brain. This is where you do your cognitive thinking.
Stress chemicals produced in a state of anxiety cause blood to be drained from the part of your brain responsible for problem-solving, strategizing, communicating effectively, comprehension, and other higher-level thinking processes.
This is why things seem so different when you’re in a state of anxiety, to the way the seem when you’re feeling good. The same circumstances can appear completely different.
What This Means:
Whenever you’re feeling anxiety, you literally can’t think straight because that part of your brain is offline.
The more you try to use that part of your brain, and can’t (because it’s offline), the more stress chemicals you’re pumping into your blood-stream… and the stronger the anxiety becomes. And, so you have a vicious cycle that can be very difficult, if not impossible, to break.
Remind yourself that what you’re feeling is simply the effects of stress chemicals in your system. Your mind will try to come up with reasons for the anxiety (that’s the conscious mind’s job — to make sense of things), but the real reason is — that’s what stress chemicals do.
Also remind yourself that... Continue Reading: What They Didn't Tell You About Anxiety
It was all going fabulously. The venue was full of smiling faces, bopping along to the beat as I sang my heart out. The atmosphere was electric, and fun was being had by all. Except for one. One, out of around eighty people. One scowling, disapproving face in a sea of enthusiasm, and I homed in on it as if it was all that mattered in the world.
You may have found that, regardless of the wonderful, positive, amazing experiences you are blessed with, your focus seems to zoom in on the one or two negatives, no matter how much you try to reason with yourself.
Why We Fixate on the Negative
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. We are designed for survival. We fixate on the negative because we’re designed that way.
If you were enjoying a picnic with family and friends, in beautiful surroundings, and a bear approached, you would need to be focused on the bear. You would need to maintain focus on that bear until the danger had passed. If you continued to focus on the good stuff, you may not be around to enjoy it for very long.
For this reason, the stress chemicals that cause negative feelings have a more powerful impact on the body than that of “feel-good” chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin.
Stress chemicals are designed to grab, and keep, our attention — for survival.
Death by Mean Comments
So, what have bears got to do with negative comments, being unable to pay your bills, or missing a deadline?
Continue Reading... Why Do We Fixate on the Negative?
A few years ago, I made a shift in perception that had a powerful impact on my progress in the changes I was attempting to make in several areas of my life.
In fact, it was the beginning of the momentum that led to a transformation I couldn’t have seen coming!
I was a tryer. And a struggler. No-one was as much of an expert at trying and struggling as I was. My determined “efforting” was interspersed with dramatic periods of self-criticism, self-doubt, and despondency.
Every time I realized I had “fallen down” again (buttons pushed; willpower dissolved; arm-wrestling match with temptation lost), I felt depleted.
Disappointment in myself, hopelessness, frustration, anger, that trapped feeling — all part of the cycle I referred to as getting-up-and-falling-down-and-getting-up-and-falling-down…
I kept getting up again, but not before I had a good wallow in the gutter of negativity and disempowerment, first.I can’t remember when I changed my perception, only that I did.
Continue Reading... Self-Criticism vs Strategy