Anxiety takes us away from what is true and makes us fretful, distrustful, impulsive, and controlling. In anxiety we rob ourselves of daily living and its experience. Instead living in the present we try to control our future in order to prevent a recurrence of painful past experiences.
Anxiety as a solution to fear is self-sufficiency—the refusal to need openly and to face how we are made. We would rather be miserable or make others around us miserable than expose our feelings and needs. We would rather enlist others to quell our anxiety than face our own heart’s fears and our need for help.
Our solution of self-sufficiency that we use to stop fear actually produces more anxiety, because in order to control anxiety we focus on preventing rejection, humiliation, failure, not being acknowledged for our achievements, not performing to someone else’s standard, not being loved, and all the things in our future we cannot touch. The solution of control over anxiety will inevitably increase anxiety because we cannot acquire enough control.
Fear that manifests as anxiety is a physiological reaction that denies the heart and commands the brain to look externally to find a threat to explain our sense of dread. It is the fight-or-flight reaction. If we are dealing with a true physical threat, fight or flight is necessary. The problem is that using fight or flight to address emotional and spiritual fears denies our hearts.
Anxiety misinforms us. It says for us to control when we need to let go.
For instance, the first time you tell someone that you love him or her, your heart throbs, your palms may sweat, your throat grows parched—you exhibit physical reactions to something entirely emotional and spiritual. This physical reaction is the emotional and spiritual fear of the rejection of your vulnerability and neediness. It is a battle between fear and anxiety—or the battle between heart versus head.
Anxiety commands that you make yourself invulnerable. Fear requests that you expose vulnerability and neediness to gain healthy control—the appropriate care of your own welfare.