Anxiety is an emotion characterized by a state of inner restlessness and constant ruminative thinking. It can generally be considered a normal reaction, but when a person suffers from it excessively or persistently, it can be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, and it is up to the individual to treat it. Dr. Forrest Tally, a clinical psychologist in Folsom, California, points out that “we can’t all avoid anxiety, but we can reduce the intensity of worry and sometimes stop it before it attacks our mind and body.” To do this, he says, we can ask ourselves a series of four questions. However, before mentioning them, he explains a few concepts in order to understand how the process works. It should be noted that this does not necessarily apply to all anxious patients, as anxiety can be generated in different ways, but it does apply to some that fit the following scenarios.
Learn more about anxiety
“Anxiety is generated by a perceived threat, not a real one,” says Dr. Tally, who points out that the keyword is “perceived,” because the reactions we have to certain events can then be distorted by our point of view, not actually based on what happened. “On the contrary, they are influenced by memories of emotionally painful events, sometimes dating back to childhood, that is similar to current events. The body also has reactions.” The expert cites as an example the scenario of a child whose father suffers from alcoholism and begins to argue with the family, which leads to a fight or a negative outcome. As adults, they may experience anxiety when one of their friends or partners starts drinking a little too much. Even if the result is not the same as in the past, the person feels anxious because of the fear that this may happen. However, the threat is unclear. “Then a situation can bring back painful memories of similar situations, which can cause an unconscious re-experience of childhood feelings,” says Dr. Tally. So the important thing is to realize that there is no real threat and that we are “safe” in the current circumstances, which can help to avoid thinking about what could happen and focus on what is really happening.
First of all, we must recognize that our reaction to an event seems excessive or inappropriate to us, for example when we react suspiciously to a compliment, or when we feel that we are not completely in control of a situation that we cannot control. Each person can identify their particular situation. Once recognized, all four questions are asked.
4 questions to reduce anxiety
- Am I in memory mode (I react to a memory or past events similar to those of the moment) or in reality mode (I only react to what is happening right now)?
- How old am I in my memory?
- How wise am I now compared to the times? What is the difference between my choices then and those of today?
- I’m sure?
Then, once we have reacted, we need to ask ourselves if it is a familiar reaction to the past, remember how old we were then, compare ourselves with now, and in the end, make sure that nothing happens and that we don’t have to focus on the present. This is a possible method to help. Some people help themselves with breathing exercises, but everyone is different. As the expert mentions, not everyone is necessarily able to do this and some can only reduce some anxiety. It depends on the individual, but it’s something that anyone can try and that helps identify a problem. If you think you are suffering from anxiety, consult a specialist.
Source: GQ Mexico