Find out how to confront fear and anxiety by learning what experts like Dr. Gabor Mate and Jordan Peterson have to say.
Have you ever felt that knot in your stomach or that racing feeling in your chest when you’re about to do something that scares you? That’s fear. It’s a natural response to a perceived threat and is designed to protect us from harm. But what about when that feeling doesn’t go away, even when there’s no obvious danger? That’s anxiety. Anxiety is a more general feeling of unease or worry that can be triggered by a variety of situations, and it’s a common experience for many people. In this article, we’ll explore the causes and nature of fear and anxiety and provide some tips on how to manage them when they become overwhelming.
Why Do We Experience Fear and Anxiety?
Feeling afraid or anxious are natural human emotions that we all experience at some point in our lives. They’re part of our survival mechanism and help us identify and respond to potential threats.
Fear is usually a response to an immediate and specific threat. For example, if we were walking in the woods and suddenly came across a bear, we would likely feel scared. That’s our body’s way of telling us to get away from danger.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a more general feeling of unease or worry that can come up in all sorts of situations. Maybe when someone is about to give a speech in front of a large audience or wait for some important news, that person can feel anxious. And that’s normal too.
There are many things that can cause fear and anxiety. Sometimes it’s genetic; some people are just more prone to these emotions than others. Other times, it’s due to life experiences, such as being in a car accident or losing a loved one. Environmental factors can also play a role, such as living in a high-crime area.
For some people, fear and anxiety can become overwhelming and interfere with their daily lives. This is when it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional. They can help us understand and manage these emotions. Most of us have felt afraid or anxious at some point in our lives, and these emotions are a normal part of being human. Let’s see what experts have to say about these emotions.
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Understanding the Root of Anxiety, by Dr. Gabor Mate
Dr. Gabor Mate has a fascinating theory that most mental health disorders stem from our innate ability to cope with challenging situations. Fear, for example, is a natural response when we perceive a threat to our safety or something essential being taken away from us. In a child’s early years, anxiety acts as an attachment alarm that signals their need for connection with their parent. Crying or vocalizing is their way of seeking help, much like a mother cat responds to her kitten’s cries.
However, when a child’s cries for help go unanswered due to misguided advice from parents, anxiety can become embedded in their psyche, leading to a generalized anxiety disorder that persists into adulthood. This anxiety can be triggered by seemingly innocuous situations, causing distress to the individual.
In our society, social isolation due to the internet has replaced human contact, leading to a lack of meaningful employment, belonging, and purpose. In addition, many young generations are connecting to social media more and more developing a false identity of themselves, and getting overwhelmed with the ‘noises’.
These genuine threats can exacerbate anxiety in individuals who experienced it during childhood. Instead of turning to temporary fixes like tranquilizers or alcohol, Dr. Mate suggests acknowledging anxiety as the cry of a desperate inner child seeking help. Seeking professional help can help individuals understand the root causes of their anxiety and overcome it, leading to a more fulfilling life.
Another way of tackling our fears and anxiety is by adopting open-mindedness in regard to our challenges. Instead of channeling our energy too much into our fears and anxiety, we can see them as lessons to take from and grow ourselves from within. This is possible when we try to seek wisdom in times of uncertainty.
Jordan Peterson on Conquering Anxiety
Jordan Peterson, the renowned Canadian clinical psychologist, believes that anxiety is a natural and necessary response to the uncertainties and dangers of life. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it can hinder our ability to function and enjoy life. To combat this, Peterson advocates for the use of evidence-based strategies such as exposure therapy to help individuals confront their fears and develop bravery in the face of danger.
While it’s understandable to feel depressed or turn to substances as a coping mechanism during challenging times, Peterson emphasizes the importance of resilience and the capacity for growth in the face of adversity. By being fully aware of our limitations and fears, we can make deliberate choices to move forward despite the risks and uncertainties. This kind of bravery, he argues, is crucial for cultivating a psychophysiological system that is geared towards approach and challenge rather than avoidance and threat.
It’s essential to address anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use problems to promote mental health and well-being. Peterson suggests that by embracing the challenges of life with bravery and self-awareness, we can thrive in the face of adversity and live a fulfilling life.
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