Anxiety is experienced by all people, it is a normal reaction to stress, conflict, fear, change, threat, & etc or more usually there is no apparent reason for it to occur. When a person becomes aware, conscious or subconscious, that something is wrong or different, anxiety is triggered. But remember the actual cause may not be identifiable by you or anyone else.
- Anxiety can be regarded as a signal that change or action is needed. It can be an energy source to find the right solution and overcome inertia and make changes.
- Anxiety can occur in different strengths. It can cause a nudge, nag, demand, panic, or a ‘kick in the backside’, a ‘knock on the door’, or a major stress in life, a ‘rock bottom’.
However anxiety reactions can have good and bad effects. It may result in action or denial.
Addicts, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers are no more anxiety ridden than other groups in the community. The difference is in the way each person deals with anxiety. Addicts, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers try to escape the discomfort, while many others try cope with their anxiety.
Drug addicts, compulsive gamblers and alcoholics often don’t recognise anxiety, label it incorrectly or deal with it in inappropriate ways. Responses to anxiety may be deliberate, unconscious, conscious, manipulating or habitual & etc. This may cause many problems.
Compulsive gambling, alcoholism and drug addiction is not caused by anxiety. Anxiety causes anxious people.
Anxiety is, in one sense, opposite to denial.
- Denial stops or prevents action by preventing awareness or putting it off till later. For example if a person does not ‘look’ at the lawn they will not know it needs mowing.
- Whereas anxiety can energise and motivate action. When a person becomes aware and accepts that the lawn needs mowing they can decide to mow it. Anxiety about the untidy lawn may have motivate them to do something about it.
When anxiety is denied the denial generates more anxiety because the ‘problem’ has not been dealt with. The person denying, may feel better but has only postponed the problem. This ‘feeling better’ gives a false and temporary impression of being OK.
Thus anxiety cannot be reduced by alcoholic drinking, addictive drug use or compulsive gambling. All of these things will only reduce the immediate uncomfortable feelings. The anxiety returns, probably more powerfully, after the addictive practice.
Too much anxiety can become toxic, poisonous or crippling. Overpowering anxiety is usually the result of not dealing with it appropriately.
The symptoms of toxic anxiety can include:-
- restlessness, being keyed up, on edge;
- a feeling of being easily tired;
- a difficulty in concentrating, mind going blank, irritability;
- sleep disturbances;
- avoiding issues, ruminating, worrying;
- ritual actions;
- craving, acting out impulses, the dry drunk syndrome;
- depression, despair;
- shame, guilt, defeat;
- too stressed out to function, immobilised.
It can also include physical symptoms like sweating, rapid heart beat, muscle tension, indigestion, rapid breathing,
Toxic anxiety tends to build up until it explodes. Exploding anxiety often happen at the wrong time, wrong place, and at the wrong people.
Anxiety generates energy to flight, fight or, focus and function. Fighting or fleeing anxiety can be the result of denial. To focus on the anxiety enables a person to function which is usually more appropriate and spiritually sound. Thus anxiety used for its intended purpose can help define any problem, push aside denial and find an appropriate way to deal with it.
Anxiety can be telegraphed to other people by the person with it, through tone of voice, body language, aggressive behaviour, silence, shouting, stares, fast driving, drinking, drugging, gambling, & etc.
Acting out the impulse of anxiety discomfort without dealing with it, can generate negativity and criticism from other people. Thus more anxiety is the result of rejection by others.
Reactions to anxiety are learned and thus can be unlearned and managed.
The paradox of anxiety is that it can be both a solution to problems and a source of anxiety.