Anxiety. 5 components of anxiety. Introduction - how is anxiety different from fear?
In our society, a huge number of anxious people. Anxiety is that feeling that prevents a person from living, incinerates him from the inside, does not allow him to enjoy life, does not allow a person to rejoice. An anxious person often experiences internal stress, and many life situations cause him to "CNB" - a sense of unforeseen misfortune. Every anxious person has to live with him. Anxiety imposes a specificity on a person's behavior, on interaction and relations with other people, on his business activity. In general, if a person is anxious, then this anxiety affects all aspects of his life.
Often such moments as being overweight, alcohol and tobacco abuse, jealousy and much more, in fact, are companions of anxiety. Rather, the result of a person's struggle with his own anxiety.
In this series of articles I will analyze the main components of anxiety, tell you how anxiety differs from fear and how you can try to get rid of your first feeling and your second in your life. Life is for enjoyment, not for experience.
An anxious person lives in constant anxiety himself and does not let others get bored, broadcasting his anxiety on them, and sometimes subordinating loved ones to it. I constantly watch how anxious mothers give the children total control. They constantly call them on their mobile phones, try to control every step they take, make hysteria when their seemingly adult "child" ceases to report in accordance with the parent schedule. It seems that the children are on parole and are constantly monitored by an officer curator.
Few people think about the origins of anxiety. But anxiety is not as uniform as it might seem at first glance. There are several reasons for the formation of anxiety, but we will analyze five main types of anxiety:
- Personal anxiety.
- Anxiety transmitted "by inheritance" by anxious parents.
- Anxiety associated with unpredictability.
- Anxiety associated with instability.
- Anxiety associated with previous negative experiences.
But for starters, I think it makes sense to make out what anxiety is, because not all people who experience anxiety are anxious. All people periodically experience anxiety, which is associated with a particular situation. Thus, it makes sense to separate the situational anxiety that can occur in any person in some situations, and anxiety, that is, the person's ability to experience anxiety for a long time without serious (at first glance) grounds.
What is anxiety? According to my observations, often people confuse anxiety and fear. Indeed, at first glance, they can be very similar, because both emotions are associated with threats, but in reality, anxiety and fear have a different nature, different implementation mechanisms, different durations and most importantly, they affect human behavior in different ways.
In most cases, when people talk about fear, it's actually more correct to talk about anxiety. But first things first. I think it's right to start with definitions of what anxiety is and what fear is.
I will start with the generally accepted definitions that are accepted in classical psychology, and then I will give my own definition, which, in my opinion, is even less ornate, but more practical, because from it follows the explanation of human behavior in a situation of fear and anxiety.
So, we start with the classics. In psychology, the definition of fear and anxiety is as follows:
Fear is an internal state caused by a threatening real or perceived disaster. Anxiety - a negatively colored emotion expressing a feeling of uncertainty, anticipation of negative events, hard-to-detect forebodings.
By the way, regarding fear and anxiety, the opinions of scientists diverged. Some believe that fear and anxiety are essentially the same thing, others believe that these are still two different, albeit negative emotions, and the difference lies in the mechanisms of the occurrence and in the human reaction to these emotions. Personally, I adhere to the second camp and believe that fear and anxiety are different, and differ significantly. These differences are already visible from the definitions we give:
Fear arises when there is a threat of losing something physical (life, health, etc.) or psychological (self-esteem, the disposition of other people, relationships with a loved one, etc.).
Anxiety occurs when there is a lack of information with a supposedly negative outcome.
I think it makes sense to clarify the definitions. Let's start with fear. Fear is concrete. Fear arises when there is a real threat and you need to somehow respond to it. Usually, the vector of human behavior is aimed at avoiding the source of fear. Fear changes the physiological state of the body, mobilizes it in order to be able to leave, to escape from the source of the threat. Fear emotion is very energy intensive and short duration.
Anxiety is a more vile emotion. Fear is concrete and a person understands what needs to be done. And anxiety is vague, and the behavior of a person who experiences anxiety is equally vague. It's hard for a person in anxiety to sit in one place. He walks from corner to corner, twirls something in his hands, someone constantly chews something, smokers, putting out one cigarette, immediately light the next one. But is the behavior of an anxious person so vague? In fact, a person who is anxious is looking for information to remove this anxiety. Remember, in the definition there is such a phrase, anxiety occurs when there is a lack of information. Therefore, a person is engaged in the search for information that will allow him to get rid of anxiety. If possible, he seeks information in the external environment, if he cannot find information in the external environment, he begins to search for information in his head, referring to his memories, examples of other people, etc.
An example is the situation that is familiar firsthand to most parents. The child, according to plans, should return to a certain time, for example, to 17.00. Half past five, he is gone. At six he is not. Parents do not know if something happened to the child or not. There is only a shortage of information and an unfavorable outcome is possible, of which television on all channels in programs such as "Emergency Incident" constantly reminds us. Parents have anxiety, although most people use the terms "fear for the child," "I'm afraid something happened to the child." However, although the term fear is used, it is actually anxiety.
What are parents doing in this situation? After all, the threat is not specific. And what to do is not clear. Almost all parents, when anxiety reaches a fairly high level, begin to look for information about the fate of the child. More anxious parents start phoning morgues, police and ambulances. Less anxious parents begin to seek information from friends and classmates. And then the call to Petya Vasechkin, from the next entrance, gives the result. It turns out that they have been playing in the Play Station for three hours and have completely lost track of time. What will happen with anxiety? After all, parents have not yet seen the child, they just received information, or rather compensated for the lack of information. As a result, anxiety is no more. She can then be exchanged for another emotion, such as anger. But that is another story.
Another example. The manager, at the beginning of the working day, approached the subordinate, with an expression on his face that did not bode well and said with a strict voice: "You will come to my office after the end of the working day." What will happen to the subordinate? He will have an alarm, because judging by the leader's voice, the conversation will be unpleasant, so it is possible that he will curse, or punish for something, or even fire him. That is, a high probability of an adverse outcome. But about what the conversation will be incomprehensible, therefore there is a lack of information. A subordinate can fill this gap by asking other employees, in addition, the employee begins to search for the missing information in his head. He will begin to recall his "mistakes" and shortcomings in order to somehow make up for the lack of information and prepare for the conversation.
Anxiety is extremely difficult to tolerate. Experiencing anxiety, a person winds himself up, considering various options and predicting various outcomes. Moreover, the more anxious a person, the more sad the outcome he sees in the future. Infected with mental chewing gum, he is trying to somehow find information, to predict the outcome. But often there's simply no where to get the information from, and he again and again turns to the analysis of the situation, which, however, doesn't alleviate anxiety, and often only reinforces it.
One more example. Imagine that you are returning late in the evening, or even at night in a criminally unfavorable area. There are a great many such people in our country, and accordingly, almost every person has ever been in such a situation at least once in their life. You walk in proud loneliness along a dark, deserted street, but you perfectly understand that you can meet with a criminal situation here. What will be the emotion? Is there a lack of information? - There is. After all, we do not see any criminal elements, but we know that they can appear at any time. Or they may not appear. Is there a possibility of an adverse outcome? - There is. They can beat, rob, rape. And you can slip through. That is, a situation of complete uncertainty.
How is a person walking in such a dark area, both in terms of coverage and in terms of reputation? He walks fast, but he listens, turns his head to the sides in attempts to see the potential danger. And in terms of psychological processes, what does he do? He is trying to get information.
So he advances through the criminal area, looking around and listening, and suddenly he hears the cry of "Stand!". What happened A specific threat has emerged. New information was received that dispelled the fog of uncertainty. What does a person do when he is afraid? He is trying to move away, to avoid the source of the threat. It immediately becomes clear what to do. "Stand" shouted from behind, then we run forward. They shouted from somewhere ahead, then we ran back. They shouted to the right, ran to the left. But now at least it's clear what needs to be done.
Once we knew that there was just flu. This is me about a viral disease. Then came the bird flu, which seemed to be worse than the usual flu. After a couple of years, he was replaced by swine flu, which was more severe and bird and simple flu. It was during the period of the swine flu epidemic that I ended up in the city of Lipetsk, with the aim of holding a seminar there. I must say that apparently the epidemic in Lipetsk raged much stronger than my native Rostov. The view of the morning station was very reminiscent of a picture from a feature film about the epidemic. In the light morning fog there is an almost deserted station, and all the few people who meet without exception are in medical masks. The seminar organizers immediately shocked the news that, unfortunately, not everyone who signed up for the seminar will be able to take part in it. Two simply did not survive, three more are very difficult to tolerate swine flu and simply are not able to attend the seminar. Honestly, at that moment I felt a little uneasy.
But let's get back to anxiety. It so happened that two women attended this seminar in Lipetsk. Each of them was the owner of a small network of pharmacies. And they told such a story. When the flu epidemic captured almost all the major cities of the country, the state began to look for the culprits of the epidemic. And as you might imagine, the state found the guilty. Many would have thought that it was a mutated influenza virus, the absence of vaccination programs, the absence of measures to prevent the spread of the virus, etc. All who thought so were wrong. The pharmacies were assigned the blame, they say that they did not buy enough drugs, and the prices for drugs were raised so much that a simple Russian could not buy a saving potion.
And the state decided to punish the guilty severely. But first you had to find what to punish. The prosecutor's office was chosen as a punishing tool, which within a month was supposed to check 100% of pharmacies in the controlled territory for inflating prices for medicines. To one of the owners of pharmacies, the prosecutor's office granted on the third day of a month-long raid on pharmacies. They found a drug that has nothing to do with the treatment of influenza. The price of this drug was overestimated by 10 cents. The inspectors wrote out a fine and left the pharmacy with a sense of accomplishment. And to the second woman, the check came on the penultimate day of the month allotted for checks. Naturally, she spent almost the entire month in alarm, because there was a lack of information, she did not know how to end the verification. As a result, the audit ended, as it should be with a small fine, but she was exhausted, having spent almost the entire month in suspense.
In real life, we are more often confronted with anxiety than with fear. Just used to what, in fact, is an alarm called fear. There is still a difference in the duration of emotions.
Fear is short-term emotion, and anxiety is long-term emotion.
Imagine a situation where you are sitting somewhere and a person is sitting next to you who is holding a dog of a fighting breed on a leash. For example, Bull Terrier. A dog without a muzzle, sat between you and the owner, and, sticking out his tongue, looks at you with his muddy look. Those who fear dogs will have fear first. The threat is concrete. But it's impossible to constantly be afraid, and the dog does not show signs of aggression and the owner reassures: "Yes, don't be afraid, he doesn't bite." After some time, you will calm down, or rather, fear will go away, but some tension will remain. It will manifest itself in the form of anxiety, and you will sit, periodically looking at the dog, and when the dog makes any movements, for example, gets up or starts whining, the anxiety will intensify, and even fear may return.
Why else is anxiety a frequent guest in our lives. First of all, because anxiety arises quite easily. It is easy to model it with another person, which, for example, is actively used in manipulations. Why are we talking about the ease of anxiety in humans? Anxiety is closely related to the amount of information that a person receives, as well as his vision of the possible result of a particular action. If a person sees a negative outcome everywhere, then naturally he will have anxiety.
Each of us gets used to a certain amount of information, which is enough for us to feel calm and not to feel anxiety. If a situation arises when information becomes less than what we are used to, it causes us alarm. For example, you decide to buy a car. There is not enough money for a new car, and in price it loses significantly in the first three years, so you decided to take a closer look at three-year-olds. And the cars are still fresh and the models are new and in price, with resale, the loss will be small. You have decided on which model you want, now you need to decide how much such a machine should cost. You study sites with car ads, watch newspapers and magazines with private ads and car dealership offers, and as a result, come to the conclusion that the three-year-old model you are looking for will cost in the range of 18-23 thousand dollars.
Now, it seems, you need to start searching for a specific instance. You decide to go to the car market to watch cars "live". Most cars, depending on their condition, mileage and options, fit in the price range that you determined when studying ads. But suddenly you see, there is a completely fresh, one-year-old machine and it costs only 18 thousand dollars. You have not even dreamed of such an option.
You fall into a joyful excitement that overshadows all growing anxiety. This alarm that arises poses a reasonable question: "Why so cheap?" and adds: "Looks like an ambush car."
Why is there an alarm? Studying the situation on the market, you have formed certain ideas about how much the car you are interested in should cost. That is, you have designated a price range in your head that you won't be worried about. You consider it fair, or at least generally accepted. And when you see an option that goes beyond your ideas, then on the one hand there is a desire to get a good option, and on the other, there is a lack of information, which leads to anxiety. You begin to suspect that apparently something is wrong with the machine and many, by the way, do not even consider this option, going on about their anxiety.
If, on the one hand, anxiety about the "pitfalls" of this car overcomes, and on the other hand, you still want to buy it, because the option is really profitable, then you start to learn from the seller information to clear the alarm, and as a result, the desire to buy won. You are wondering why a person sells, why such a price, and what the history of this car is. And here a lot depends on the credibility of the seller and your desire to believe him. If the seller can stop your anxiety, then the chances that you will opt for his option are quite high. If the seller's arguments are not able to remove the alarm, then you will rather refuse to purchase, or try to remove the alarm by receiving information from another source, for example, by diagnosing a car on a reputable service.
In other words, anxiety arises when what a person sees in reality does not fit in with his "picture of the world", that is, with the way he represented this reality. And in order to remove the alarm that has arisen, he must somehow explain to himself why there were inconsistencies in his "picture of the world" and make corrections to it. Or other people can help him do this. Moreover, one can try to correct the "picture of the world" of another person by giving information directly, or start the train of thoughts in such a way that the person himself comes to the "right" conclusion.
I had a client who had a shoe business. She traded both in stores and in the market. She periodically visited exhibitions and at one of them found a new supplier, and began to sell his products. Buyers favorably reacted to new products, sales were consistently high. But competitors did not doze off. In one of the markets where her sales point was, a woman stood in front of her, who also sold shoes. Seeing that new products are in demand among customers, she brought exactly the same assortment, but set the price for it 500 rubles cheaper. And the sellers working on the point of my client call her and ask: "What to do?", Because sales fell sharply, and the bulk of the buyers went over to competitors.
The bottom line is that the difference of 500 rubles for a pair of shoes did not cause big questions for buyers. This completely fit into their "picture of the world" and did not cause them anxiety, because they could easily and independently explain such a price difference by the greed of the owners of a point that sells the same, but more expensive. My client did not want to sell shoes with a minimum margin and therefore made a somewhat extraordinary decision. She ordered to raise the price of that product, which intersected with competitors by 1000 rubles. As a result, the difference in price for similar products, at similar retail outlets, and even located two steps from each other, became 1,500 rubles. And such a big difference did not fit into the "picture of the world" of buyers. It seems like I would like to buy cheaper, but the difference in price with a neighboring point was very embarrassing. The buyers had anxiety, and under its influence, they began to be actively interested in the reasons for such a significant difference in price.
There was a need to give information to customers, so that on the one hand they remove anxiety, and on the other, so that they buy at the point of my client. One could certainly say that the competitors had a marriage, and with us it was qualitatively, but, firstly, it was not true, and secondly, it would lead to conflicts with competitors. And for the buyer this would be a bad explanation. An unexpectedly good option was suggested by one of the employees. An option that did not imply a direct explanation of the reasons for the price difference, but allowed to start the buyer's train of thought in the right direction. She suggested saying to the buyer: "And you measure with us and with them. The leg itself will tell you."
Reception worked 100%, because a fairly large number of buyers, the "leg" suggested that more expensive shoes are more comfortable and better, which corresponded to the "picture of the world" of a large number of people who believe that the more expensive the product, the better it is. The seller's explanation only helped the buyer confirm his picture of the world, which removed his anxiety and led to the purchase.
Different people need a different amount of information so that there is no feeling of anxiety. An anxious person needs more information, hence, for example, the desire of an anxious mother to control every step of the child, hence the same phone calls 15 times a day. And if the child does not pick up the phone, or the phone is out of range, then an alarm immediately arises. After all, such a mother has lost the usual amount of information, and to imagine that something terrible happened to the child does not represent work for an anxious person. An anxious person generally sees some kind of negative ending everywhere, and the more anxious a person is, the more negative the outcome he expects in the future.
As I already noted, not only anxious people experience anxiety. Anxiety occurs in people who do not have increased anxiety. It is enough for a person to deprive him of the usual amount of information. You can even experiment yourself. For example, you can change your behavior. If earlier you were friendly, talkative and positive with friends, colleagues or relatives, then try to slightly change your behavior. Just behave a little "colder," a little more remotely than usual. And you will see that after a while your interlocutor will start asking questions by type, what happened? Why are you like this? The mechanism here is as follows. Your partner is accustomed to the fact that you behave in a certain way, and this behavior does not cause him anxiety. If a partner values your relationship, and he suddenly sees that you have become colder, and he does not understand the reason for such changes, then he will actually have a shortage of information. Since the relationship with you is significant for him, and he would like the relationship between you to remain good, and now he is observing their cooling, he will form an alarm, under the influence of which he will ask you questions in order to get that information from you which will allow to remove this alarm.
It would seem that such a trifle is just a change in habitual behavior, and the partner will already have anxiety. It is precisely because anxiety is rather easily modeled in humans that it plays a key role in manipulation technology. Most manipulative techniques generate anxiety in the partner to whom the manipulation is directed.
Anxiety often leads a person's behavior, although he does not always understand this. For example, anxiety is often a barrier to delegating authority. I have repeatedly observed a situation where a company remains small forever due to the anxiety of its owner. When the company is small, often the owner is also a director in combination. The small size of the company and the small staff make it possible to control almost all the processes taking place at the company. Problems arise when a company develops, the number of personnel, the number of customers increase, and the director is no longer able to cope with all the affairs. Part of the functionality needs to be delegated. But when the head delegates part of his functionality to the employee, he loses the part of the information that he is already used to. If he does not fully believe that his employee will cope, then an alarm occurs. He puts the employee in charge of some area that he used to do and feels that he is driving anxiety. What is going on there? Will it cope? Do not break firewood?
We have already said that a person suffers anxiety very poorly. So the leader in alarm becomes uneasy. He tries to remove it, and you can do this by getting the usual amount of information. Then he begins to constantly find out from the employee what is happening to him, begins to engage in excessive control. In the end, this ends with the de facto manager taking the authority back, although formally this is still the employee's area of responsibility. As a result, we get, on the one hand, a demotivated employee who understands that he manages the process only on paper, on the other hand, a busy and dissatisfied boss trying to personally control all processes in the company. And in order to control all the processes in the organization, it is necessary that the company remains small. So she remains so.
There are many more examples of how anxiety affects our lives, but I think I was able to show that we encounter anxiety more often than fear. I think that there is no person in the world who does not periodically experience anxiety.
Anxiety can cause understatement. I felt a similar situation on myself. I conducted a management seminar in the city of Kirov. The event has already ended, the participants dispersed. About 40 minutes remained before the train departed, and I was already waiting for the organizers of the seminar, who were to take me to the station. Suddenly a young man in one shirt comes into the office, and it was winter, and there was twenty-degree frost on the street. He comes up to me and starts asking for a consultation, which he just desperately needs. And I need to go to the station, so I refuse. He asks again. I refuse again. After a series of similar requests from him and refusals from mine, he looked at me intently and said: "Good. You made your choice."
And then I felt uneasy. What kind of choice I made, I did not know, but there was a feeling that I had chosen something bad. Although this is not a direct threat. Just by his phrase, which contained a large share of understatement, he aroused alarm in me. And although there were no adverse consequences, but, given the not entirely adequate behavior of the young man, they should not have been discarded at all.
In fairness, it must be said that anxiety in some cases also has a positive effect, or rather, performs a protective function. It makes a person more balanced and thoughtful attitude to their decisions. Pushes a person to clarify the situation, request additional information, and thus anxiety often protects a person from rash actions. True only if a person does not ignore this alarm. Sometimes it is useful to listen to your anxiety, and perceive it as an alarm. So not everything is completely clear. So you need to think more, you need to further clarify the situation.
But all as they say in moderation. A number of decisions still involve risk. When making such decisions, a person cannot fully control the situation, but sometimes they need to be taken, despite the anxiety. Just anxiety makes a person remain alert.
In the continuation of the articles I will tell you more about what anxiety is from different points of view and give different examples of the formation of anxiety. Who warned, as you know, is armed.
By: Noam Harel, MD