Anxiety and Trust ~ Measuring ~ part 2

During the process of disentanglement, how does one know if there is improvement? What signifies when a know has been untied and that  one is free from that aspect of entanglement? What is it that informs one that indicates one is on the right track, the change unfolding, will endure?

The kind of growth and development that endures is indicated by more ‘forward’ steps than ‘backward’ steps. This crude metaphor for transformation, turns out to be quite effective, for everyone knows what it means.

I am not sure if it’s possible for a person to get ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ and therefore overcome their irrational responses completely, but I am sure that there can be slow development. The patterns of change that we experience create hope. This hope based on experience will for many, be enough. For to see light when you are dominated by darkness, to take steps toward ease and to lean into the warmth and welcome of life, are themselves a gift of hope that softens us enough, to release us from the sharp edge of current stress and tension. This softening is the beginning of the necessary change and increases feelings of ‘ease’, which gives an emotional space to allow one to consider the bigger picture for this journey, toward the potential of relative freedom. Keeping this potential in mind is a powerful motivator for further intentional effort.

Anxiety is defined as a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from anticipation of a realistic or imagined threatening event or situation.[1]
Symptoms of Anxiety

It is probably trite and obvious to say that when the anxiety is under control, things in general work more comfortably for the person. But what is it that is really going on here? When there is ease and flow in a person’s decisions, it allows for delayed gratification, acceptance of the way things are, without being negative and fatalistic, and a vision for life which tends to be philosophical and reflective, rather than defensive and reactive. The choices inherent in this ease are not reactionary, rather they are often based on personal reflection, quietly and calmly considered, often with determination to improve.

The hormones of anxiety. “Most people who struggle with anxiety need to find ways to lower their cortisol levels. Often called the “fight or flight” chemical, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and acts as an overall stimulant. It causes your heart to beat faster, your blood vessels to constrict, and your muscles to tense in response to a perceived threat, whether real or imagined. Cortisol is an important part of overall, robust health, because it gives you the energy and focus to conquer challenges. It’s a good thing—provided it’s temporary. But too much cortisol in your bloodstream on an ongoing basis causes and/or exacerbates anxiety, and can also wreak havoc on your health in many other ways. As a result it is imperative to practice good stress management and to assuage the symptoms of anxiety2 by finding ways to lower your overall cortisol levels.”
cortisol effects
“… when stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can cause the body to remain in a state of hyper emergency readiness. When the body has been in a state of hyper emergency readiness for too long, it can behave erratically and more involuntarily than normal, which can cause all sorts of physiological, psychological, and emotional problems. These problems can also involve the many systems, organs, and glands affected by the stress response.”

Control ~ more or less?
Of course we must not assume that there will ever be perfect ‘control’. The word ‘control’ is actually a bit too strong to even use, because it implies an absolute state, which is unrealistic for anyone. The notion of control is an attitude of perfectionism. I like to imagine anxiety as an energy that is blocked because of a perception of threat, that could either be a real danger or unreal, a perception as if one is in danger. The pattern of this mental state perpetuates and begins to dominate, thus leading to feelings of fear that are often based on projection not reality. This state gets in the way of ‘normal’ functioning, in which one feels safe. This pattern of projections of danger is powerful in an undermining way, because it will most often self-perpetuate itself. The big problem with anxiety is the brain pattern that is set up, because it hooks in with and resonates with the primal survival part of our brains.

Hormones which protect us from danger are also vital for survival. Here is the weird thing – even though these hormones are vital for survival, if we aren’t able to switch then off when there is no threat, they become harmful. More and more people are impacted by this dynamic – of not being able to ‘switch off the sense of threat’ that accompanies production of these hormones. People even get addicted to them, and an  adrenalin cortisol thrill is associated with it. This is a very common situation and exists to a degree in almost everyone I know. But the normal ability to cut this thread of anxiety, to have some control over the process, is what achieves the emotional mental mix of healthier ways of handling challenges. This is when we are able to allow natural ease, the feeling of safety and replenishment to return, as naturally as a broad crinkly smile.

Look at adrenalin. It’s something we enjoy with the right balance – pushing yourself in walking up a mountain, surfing big waves, preparing for challenging events, the thrill of an exciting adventure in literature, scary movies, first person shooter computer games etc. When it comes with cortisol which it usually does, the two are a toxic mix for they heighten attention to detail and energy and strength. This heightened space is a place of empowerment, which can often become addictive. Which means that when they are not there, the brain feels relaxation and ease and suddenly, “OOOPS, what if I’m in danger, I’ve let down my guard, I need to be more vigilant and focused and watch out coz life is dangerous and anything can happen”. So the spike of adrenalin cortisol kicks in again, even if there is no real threat, and this leads to tension, stress and disconnection from what is really happening. The person is drawn to the need to control and this is the basis of what is commonly called a ‘control freak’. They are drawn to self centredness so as to manipulate and dominate situations, as they don’t have the ease that comes from empathy, respect, integrity and compassion. When it is about empathy, respect, integrity and compassion, a person is perceived by others as trustworthy and over time this potential builds and deepens a high trust relationship.

(read on to part 3 ~ Break throughs)

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