Anxiety Letters

Sharing – Being calm is not our default mode

Jake makes an important point in his latest newsletter:

“So, if emotions are both circumstantial (of the moment) and historical (of the past), then what is our default mode? Being calm, happy, positive, peaceful, and relaxed is not our default mode. Our default mode is being in a state of emotional flux.”

I’ve seen many mentions recently about anxiety being a normal response to our current world. This is also a contradiction to what much of the self-help and positivity industry would tell us. Spend any time on social media and you’ll see plenty of messages about gratitude, finding joy and purpose, and the silver lining in any situation.

What you won’t hear is that there are situations that SHOULD make you angry, anxious, and sad. But there are. If your emotional response to the pain and suffering of oppressed people is to look for the growth they could be having from it, or if you look at the world dealing with pandemics, political upheaval, climate change, and war without feeling any kind of anxiety, you aren’t mentally healthy, you might be a psychopath.

Think about it, we know that humans are hard-wired to be alert to threats. So much so, that we sometimes see threats that aren’t real. It’s the “lizard brain” that is just trying to keep us alive and safe as if we were still living in a world where we need to avoid predatory animals attacking us. That part of our brain wasn’t a mental illness, it was what kept us alive, having the appropriate reaction to danger. It still exists within us. Sometimes it’s incorrect, and we should be taking another look at our reality and appreciating the safe place we are in, but sometimes it isn’t. The real world is in flux. Every day presents new issues to be dealt with, new challenges to understand and overcome. Always feeling calm is not a realistic way to exist in this world.

It’s no surprise that our emotions are always in flux and that we may have a certain level of anxiety about the real world we live in. Trying to avoid that is an issue, as much as not being able to process and live with those emotions is.

So feel what you feel. Share what you feel. Accept what the people around you feel. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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