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Anxiety, Then and Now.

Anxiety is a human feeling that is naturally painful but rather harmless and perhaps even useful. The problem is our concept about anxiety that forms over the years of living with it. We have mistakenly concluded that anxiety is evil and its mere presence is evidence of our inherent faultiness. We tend to measure our spiritual, mental, and physical greatness with anxiety as the ruler stick; if anxiety looms large then we must be small and worthless human beings. If anxiety is small or absent, then we must be doing things right.

Children have anxiety, too. Above all else, they know that it is a little painful. It’s like the pain of falling down unexpectedly which causes them to withdrawal from the fun and seek out mom or dad the first few times it happens. Eventually they learn to get back up on their feet without a fuss, despite the pain.

Unlike physical pain from falling down, anxiety often arrives without a clear, perceived cause. This makes it much more interesting to think about. And the more we think about anxiety the more we tend to fear it as some kind of great, invisible enemy of the mind.

There was a time when each of us was bold enough to treat anxiety as a simple, albeit somewhat painful, feeling, and nothing more. Without thinking it was horrible and complex, we could recognize the pain of anxiety the same as a small scrape or bruise–something we should accept and move through so we can continue to have fun before the party ends.