Anxiety: A Nervous System

By: Aaron

If you read our post about avoidance and pragmatism, then you’ll what I’m saying when I say that I’m going to put on my pragmatists thinking cap to write this next post. If you haven’t read it yet, it might not hurt to start with that one here: https://thecuriousconvos.com/2017/03/03/avoidance-and-pragmatism/.

You’ll know from having read that article that the general viewpoint of a pragmatist can be generalized in one way as classifying the world as something that is not made out of “matter” and atoms and stuff, but it’s instead comprised of what matters.

Your nervous system transmits messages from your spinal cord and brain to everywhere else throughout your body, and it tells you exactly how to act. “Scream”, “reach your arm out and grasp”, and “turn around” That kind of stuff. The most primitive aspects of your nervous system will find their origins 550-600 million years ago in worms.

Obviously this means that our nervous system, which is the system that actually think it contains all the knowledge we claim to know about it, is 600 million years old, and although we may think we are much more intelligent than it, we must consider the possibility that it might be more wise as a separate entity than we are using it as a faculty to our existence. After all, this reactionary part of us all is exactly the faculty that has allowed our ancestors to keep alive and avoid being eaten by things like snakes, wolves or bears over the entirety of our evolutionary period.

Your nervous system doesn’t even actually look at a snake or a wolf, and think “snake” or “wolf”, especially not during times before civilization. Your nervous system and looks at them and thinks, “something I run from”, or, “something that eats me”. Your nervous system then extracts those meanings out and tell your body how it should thusly act. The better and better species gets at adjusting it’s perceived meaning of things to match the actions you act out as a result of those meanings, the more likely it is that the species is going to be able to be most successful at propagating through time. Anything that you might perceive as a threat, is going to activate the same parts of the reactionary brain that would have been activated during times when being eaten by snakes and wolves might have been a more realistic danger.

            Perhaps a problem with the strictly objective or scientific viewpoint of humanity today, is that our nervous system does not know how to act out “snake” or “wolf”, at least not as a reflex. It simply is not consistent with how our genealogy has evolved. Evolution of the nervous system has been going on for 600 million years, humanity has existed in it’s current form (with varying estimation) for roughly 150,000 to 200,000 years, written language has existed for roughly 10,000 years, science for 500 years, and Iphones have existed for 8 years. Our past as a primitive being is much longer and more full of examples of the reality of human nature and that’s why they say “history repeats itself”. To know why people do the things they do, you must first study why and how we have evolved as we are.

Take for example, the amount that atheistic views have grown over the course of the last 3 decades or more. An atheist might associate with the idea that life has no meaning, and that people are mere coincidences of Darwinism and aren’t divine. I was an atheist in my teenage years through early 20’s, or I at least would have identified as one. At that time I would have told you that I don’t believe in anything, and that’s the reason I was an atheist. So you can imagine the shock I felt years later when I realized that as an atheist, I BELIEVED that nothing was going to happen to me when I died.

“But I thought you didn’t believe in anything,” I said to myself.

“Apparently you’re a hypocrite,” I responded back.

This realization forced me to strip myself all of my beliefs and start over. I studied a lot of the oldest stories, myths, and religious texts looking for what it is that I might believe. What was revealed to me as I read, listened to lectures, and read, I concluded that I do not believe any religion to be true by itself, rather I more believe that they all have intrinsic, transcendent, and universal truths among them, and that the oldest religious text should most effectively be viewed as if they are tools which contain the morals and ethics of which you should use to guide your life. Furthermore it is within those texts that I have hypothesized that the main lesson that carries across all religions is that the most sacred and “holy” of all values is to always tell the truth.

Given how much more our ancestors were connected to nature, considering how they lived in it, I’d say it’s fair to assume they were also clued in to the workings and needs of their own bodies, more than we are, and definitely more than we probably give the, credit for. Maybe these stories, the oldest that have ever been carried through all of time, are a gift from our wiser ancestors telling us that the most important human trait is to always tell the truth. I think it’s possible that they knew the effect that lies and contradictions have on one’s nervous system, and I think that these effects carry severe consequences than we currently think, as far as individual physiological health. It’s debatable that we’re the most “advanced” country on the earth yet we use 85% of all the world’s manufactured prescription drugs, and that’s no coincidence.

For example, one self-hypocrisy I discovered while looking into my religious affiliation contradiction, was one that had prior been a sub-conscious hypocrisy. Actually as it turns out, most of them are sub-conscious. I realized that even though I didn’t believe in divinity because of my beliefs in atheism, yet I simultaneously act out the beliefs of our government’s legal system, which clearly associates with the belief that everybody does have divinity within them. Otherwise if you committed a crime we’d just assume that you are evil and that evil is the only thing that you are. We wouldn’t bother in believing in second chances. You can find similar contradictions in the environmentalist who drives a truck and owns an Iphone and a house with electricity, in the feminist who’s never stood up for the right for women in Saudi Arabia to enjoy the same opportunities to protest that women in the west enjoy, or in any of the groups and organization that claim to detest hate speech, while being a hateful response to an opposing hateful movement. Hate plus hate only equals more hate.

I say all of that to conclude with this; one truth that carries across all people is that we all have unconscious contradictions, hypocrisy, and bias. That’s okay, but we must be able to have a dialogue about it, so we can all get smarter. When one stakes their beliefs in one thing, but act out their life in a manner that is contradictory in meaning to those beliefs, I hypothesize that it throws your nervous system out of whack, and since that is the system that tells very other part of you how to act, it might not be a bad idea that we collectively figure out how to keep it in check. These self-deception literally wind you up, and are the roots of all of your anxiety.

Not all of these monkey wrench’s of contradiction that are being thrown at your nervous system are the fault of your own. You nest your self-identity within larger group identities. Things like gender, sexual orientation, political and religious affiliation, where you’re from, and the like, are all larger structures of identity that carry with them their own beliefs, some of which you adopt consciously, some sub-consciously. If you want to slowly rid yourself of your anxieties it will help you to realize your contradictions, address them, and get rid of them, one by one. The road to ridding our anxious mind, starts from looking within, and working your way outwards, so until you’ve gotten to know your inner self, it’s best to not project your insecurities. Peace and love and you are beautiful xoxo

 

The Anxiety Show

By: Taylor

Anxiety is something that’s a part of everyone’s lives. It’s a makeup of the human condition; a part of the gig no one necessarily wants; yet it exists regardless. It can be predominantly present or hiding under the bed, but that in no way means it’s non-existent in your life. Just because you don’t feel it now doesn’t mean you never have or never will. The thing about anxiety is that people (very much so) experience it differently. The kid on the bus silently reading a book could be stressing hard over x, y, and z; you’d never know he’s on the verge. Or there are people like myself, Taylor, who have let anxiety take over some pretty awesome moments due to what can only be described as a crippling sensation of a bomb aftermath.

 

And . . . fun times were had by all . . . No, not really, but this anxiety that we all experience, it’s seldom spoken about; seldom understood in a comprehensive way. If we asked, “What is anxiety?”—Would your answer start with, “The feeling when…”? Look, we aren’t claiming to be the anxiety experts over here, either. We just have taken the education and thought on anxiety to a different level for you; for any and everyone.

 

There’s already so much misconception around what anxiety is, and we’d like to clear that up and shake that down a bit. Here, we’ve defined anxiety in our own words, and that goes as follows:

 

“To be fearful of the future and lacking a sense of security about an uncertain situation that is under consideration.”

 

that may be a lot to process, but bare with us, here. When you feel anxious, it’s generally about an unknown; work, relationships, or health—you name it. Why are you fearful about it? Because you don’t have a solid, clear end result in mind, and that’s a scary thing. Why’s it under consideration? You obviously want it, but there’s a clear layer of fear surrounding it because you want it. But with that want, there’s the whole “unknown” thing. That’s the part that shakes you to your core. It’s the risk of a, b, c, or d that comes with any road you may or may not take. The thing is . . .you can’t sit in an indecisive zone for very long without repercussions. You have to make decisions; that’s another part of the human condition. Whether you’re feeling ready or not is beside the point because truly—you’ll never “feel” 100% ready, ever, about anything. New parents don’t have a guide telling them how to be a parent, they just do. So maybe, just maybe, it’s about saying screw it and diving in, wherever you are.

 

If there’s any constant in life, it’s the existence of uncertainty in your everyday. There will always be things you don’t have answers to, situations you can’t possibly plan for, and events you simply don’t have control over. The key to life isn’t having the answers; it’s knowing that it’s OK to not have the answers. Say you have a big presentation coming up at work in front of a group of peers that you seldom work with. You’re going to be nervous, and you’re going to have anxiety. That’s natural. That’s normal. That’s expected. Why wouldn’t you be nervous about it? It means something to you, and no one wants to enter a room only to leave it feeling like a complete moron.

 

That’s the anxiety talking, though. Chances are you’re not a moron, and you’re just being outrageously hard on yourself. For whatever reason, we’re all usually much harder on ourselves than we would be to literally any other human being. So what would happen if we were to start speaking to ourselves the way we’d talk to a dear friend? Would that anxiety begin to melt away? The answer is yes and no. Obviously one small shift isn’t going to instantaneously move mountains, but it’s crucial to identify that it will, in fact, make a change. Even if it’s a small one, change is still change, and when it comes to anxiety, even the smallest steps should be look at through the most victorious eyes. As we’ve discussed before, this is part of a shift in perspective, which is no easy task. If you’re the person who doesn’t believe a shift in perspective could genuinely, meaningfully and positively impact your life, yet you suffer from anxiety, well . . . you’re walking a thin line between reality and delusion; between accuracy and avoidance, and it might be time to take the blinders off.

 

This isn’t saying we minimize whatever it may be that you’re going through. We know anxiety is real, and we are right there with everyone who experiences these feelings every day. We also know how beneficial a shift in ones perspective can be, and we want to guide others to the same realizations. Generalized anxiety can be crippling—take it from those who are first-hand battlers of said anxiety. But here’s the thing . . .you can’t sit around your whole life being the victim of your circumstances. We’ve all been down; we’ve all fallen victim to this way of life; to the poor-me mindset. Some of us (or one of us…OK it’s me) felt that way merely 5 minutes ago. But guess what? To get off the floor, you can’t just sit there, twiddling your thumbs. You have to actively try to get the hell up.

 

Sure, it’s easier to cry in the midst of your anxiety overload and let it run you, but where’s that going to get you? We’ll tell you—nowhere. It gets you stuck in the mouse wheel of life, going nowhere fast (and in an anxious way, at that). If this isn’t what you saw for your life, then change it. Decide that now, and 5 minutes from now, and 3 hours from now, and tomorrow, and next month . . . that you won’t let this bullshit run your life. That you won’t let it run you. Your mind is powerful, and when you use it for the better as opposed to it using you . . . beautiful things will unfold. You’ve got to hold onto the strength you’ve been given and use It for good, for the bettering of yourself; not for the crippling of your mind.

 

The Human Condition

By: Taylor

Every day is a new day, and every day we’re faced with new challenges. With those challenges comes alternative measures of resolution. Anxiety comes and goes, emphasis on the go part. Why? Because you need it, but in moderation. Walking around with the heaviness of total and full anxiety is exhausting and unnecessary.

 

I’m not talking to you as someone from an outside perspective; rather someone who’s walked a mile—or 10—in those shoes, and has come out of, and gone back into, the flames of anxiety.

 

It’s an eerie place to be; to not have answers, thus letting the idea of fear creep into your mind. I know because it’s been like clockwork to me. Ridding myself of anxiety only for it to manifest, disappear, or translate itself into a different life form in my world.

 

Where does anxiety even come from?

 

There’s no one place, and that’s part of the stigma around it. Anxiety is everywhere, and everyone’s experienced it in one way or another. So maybe you don’t have full-fledged panic attacks, but does that mean you’re not entitled to your anxiety? Of course not. The first step to resolving your anxiety is noticing it’s presence, and not being afraid that it exists.

 

Because if you think you’re alone in the world, trying to fight the good fight single-handedly, you’ll feel isolated. Isolation has its positive moments; it’s good to have time to reflect on yourself and your goals. But to feel jaded? Ain’t nobody got time for that. You’re not jaded; you’re simply lost in translation with the rest of us.

 

Life’s tough whether you’re going at it in solidarity or with support of some sorts. Regardless of your current disposition, we’ve all had our highs as we try and minimize our lows. The thing is . . . we shouldn’t minimize those lows. The lows are what make us human. They’re a part of the human condition that we all experience around the world. Yeah, there’s a sense of solitude in going at it alone, but there’s also solidarity and strength in knowing that you don’t have to. There are others thinking the same thoughts, with the same struggles, facing the same uphill battle. It’s about recognizing the faults in the human condition, in ourselves, and in others. That’s the solidarity we truly need.