Today my husband and I were driving south on I-83, from York, Pa to Baltimore, Md. Just as we were nearing the city limits, a flat bed tractor-trailer came speeding off of an entrance ramp, cutting across two lanes of traffic and almost running us into the median. Interestingly I remained calm but my husband was out of breath from the near hit. I took the opportunity to use it as a learning experience for him.
“Right now, how do you feel physically?” He recited the usual list: Racing heart, fast breathing, sweaty palms, knot in stomach. We’ve all been there for one reason or another.
“OK. Now imagine that feeling magnified about ten times, coming out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Imagine waking up feeling that way and not knowing why. That is what it feels like to have an anxiety disorder.”
Then I told him about an extremely interesting article I recently read, which not only makes sense for those of us who are managing anxiety, but for anyone under stress. So really, that means all of us.
The gist of it was this: fear and anxiety are usually compulsive liars. Think of all the things we worry about unnecessarily, or the fact that our worry has no control over the eventual outcome. We worry about the weather, we worry if our children will get into the college they want, we worry about having time to clean our house, about traffic. If we really pay attention, we find that we worry, at least on some level, quite a bit. Yet, we listen to it. We give it our full attention. Fear and worry can often make us act and react in ways we wouldn’t if we were thinking rationally. If a person in our life is a compulsive liar, do we give them final say on how we feel? Do we consult them and ask for their advice?
If we are ever in a position to be face to face with a tiger, trust me, that anxiety will still kick in and send us into lifesaving fight or flight mode, no matter how many years we have spent ignoring its warnings. Better that in every day life, in those situations where worry is causing us to feel bad for no reason, we call it out for the liar it is and ignore it.