The anxiety of a real man

Anxious people come with a common request – to reduce anxiety, ideally to remove it altogether. And humanly I understand how much inconvenience this causes.

For example, hands and feet shake before an exam or performance. The employer reports that they are inviting you to a position at Gazprom, and your eyes start to twitch and your palms are sweating. Or maybe you worry every day that you forgot to close the door to the apartment, turn off the gas, then lock the car.

With increased anxiety, a person is constantly mobilized, is in anticipation of danger: muscles are tense, heart is pounding, pulse is rapid – the body is working to wear and tear in situations where there seems to be no real danger. The key is not.

If anxiety has arisen, it means that the psyche and the body regards the danger as real and signals this in all available ways. There is a choice of how to deal with this information. Ignore and extinguish, in the hope that it will stop by itself, or investigate the mechanism of anxiety and find out why you have such a reaction. In the latter case, there is a greater chance of using facts and evidence to “convince” the psyche to stop giving false alarms.

In different cases, the cause and source of anxiety may differ. In practice, I meet several types of anxiety.

1. Anxiety = organic disorder

I’m going home from work. In the middle of the street, I suddenly feel weakness in my legs, my heart is pounding, beads of sweat on my forehead. It becomes more difficult to breathe every second, the sounds are muffled and come as if from a barrel. One thought is knocking in my brain to the beat of my heart: “I seem to be dying.”

Above, I described an example of a panic attack. It happens that the symptoms of anxiety are caused by disturbances in the functioning of the hormonal system (for example, the thyroid gland), brain pathology, heart problems, and a number of other diseases. Features of such anxiety:

constant strong feeling of anxiety not connected with events in any way,

the suddenness of the onset of symptoms and their intensity (everything was fine, there was no stress, and suddenly anxiety and panic attacks),

recent physical injuries.

In this case, reducing anxiety through self-soothingness, finding causes, managing anxious thoughts, and other self-help methods will at best have a temporary effect. Psychological counseling and psychotherapy are also of little help in these cases. It would be best to see a doctor, and if he finds nothing, return to a psychologist.

2. Anxiety = uncertainty

I’ve been interviewing for six months now, but I can’t find a suitable job. If earlier I went to the meeting calmly and confidently, I accepted the request to wait for the leadership with a smile, but now I meet every delay, every postponement of the meeting by tapping my fingers on the table and rudely “as you say”.

I call this anxiety the truth, because initially anxiety is an undifferentiated, vague, vague sense of danger. When does it arise? As the name suggests, in a situation of uncertainty:

management has changed at work, there are rumors that layoffs are coming,

the departure of the plane is delayed, you have an important meeting and you cannot tell your partner when you will,

passed the exam and are waiting for the results.

It is normal to be anxious in these situations. Of course, it can be of different intensity, and it depends on the individual characteristics of the person. The psychologist here can help determine how the intensity is adequate to the situation, and teach how to better withstand such a state.

3. Anxiety = another emotion

First performance in front of an audience in my life, 5 minutes before the start. My mouth is dry, it is impossible to stand still, hands by themselves fiddle with the buttons so that it seems that they are about to come off. Colleagues come up, pat him on the shoulder encouragingly, but he will not remember them. That day will remain in memory with one phrase, spoken in passing by the guy, not even to him, but in conversation: “Look, how it shakes before the performance, the shirt is already wet. My Anka was also worried when she was preparing to read a poem in kindergarten. “

This happens when a well-known and familiar anxiety is covered by a difficultly tolerated emotion. This mechanism is formed in childhood, when adults were taught to more or less cope with anxiety, while other emotions remained terra incognito . Anxiety is often hidden behind:

fear (you cannot show weakness),

shame (only hysterics want attention),

guilt (the fool herself is to blame).

It is important here, first, to decompose anxiety into atoms and to clarify when, where and why this feeling arises. Secondly, when an emotion manifests itself, find out the attitude towards it – is it permissible in a person’s worldview to experience it. If not, then legalize it.

4. Anxiety = agitation

A long-awaited date with the most beautiful girl in the world. The boss offered a promotion and an interesting position. The first vacation in five years, but not with lying on the couch, but a whole trip to sunny Italy. Would be happy and happy, right? No. Because a fleeting moment of joy is blocked by a strange, gloomy and constant disturbing sensation.

This anxiety is similar to that described in the previous paragraph, but with the difference that one emotion is covered with anxiety, and here any emotional arousal is still prohibited at the level of sensations, because in the past experience:

suppressed (don’t run),

punished (will be taken by the uncle-policeman),

equated to aggression and anger (screaming like your nutty alcoholic father).

At the same time, a person regards any emotional upsurge of energy even at the level of sensations as wrong, abnormal, forbidden. For him, the ideal is a completely calm and imperturbable man with a stone face, who will not blink an eye even during an earthquake. A sort of Stirlitz or Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger. Of course, in the profession of an intelligence officer, a military man, an undercover policeman, this is a useful skill – otherwise you will not survive there. But is it useful and adequate in the life of an ordinary person who is not associated with a double life and conspiracy? I doubt.


Summarizing my work experience, I share 3 steps that can help reduce the impact of anxiety on life.

Look into the face of anxiety, find out what it is about, get to know it. So we remove some of the tension, remove the anxiety-uncertainty. After all, the unknown is sometimes more frightening than the worst outcome.

Another step towards reducing anxiety is the paradoxical permission to worry and experience emotions, allowing yourself to be a living person, and not a stone idol. Thus, your energy, which is aimed at suppressing the symptoms of anxiety, is released: it can be used to understand the causes of anxiety and control your behavior.

In parallel with the previous steps, you can use breathing exercises, techniques and techniques aimed at relaxation and relieving bodily tension, managing anxious thoughts. They help to reduce the intensity of anxiety, remove a symptom in a specific situation, but do not solve the whole issue with anxiety.

If the recommendations from the article and the Internet do not help, and anxiety prevents you from living fully, it may be worth contacting a psychologist.

event_note August 10, 2021

account_box Winona Tse MD

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