Now there’s another interesting question: “How Does Anxiety Progress?”
In a previous post I discussed an example of how does anxiety start that described anxiety as being a skill that you learnt. This article continues the example, it’s a mental model and not an exact description.
So How does anxiety progress.
Once you realise how anxiety starts and becomes the equivalent of a skill, you have the mental model to see how anxiety progresses.
When you have a valuable skill you don’t notice it. Like catching a ball it’s valuable because it’s useful to you. Your anxiety skill had value because it let you get on and perform tasks quickly and efficiently and you got better and better at it.
In the same way that catching a ball is a skill that started with a ball but the skill becomes abstract. The ability to calculate vectors, determine directions being taken by projectiles and ability to move a body part in to the path of the projectile is a life skill, not just an ability to be good at sports.
So the skill becomes useful in more and more contexts. That also means that the skill will be triggered for use in more and more situations. So you can catch a ball, you can swing a hammer, you can block things that are going to hit you. I think you get the idea. The use of the skill blossoms, and the progression of its use is welcomed. It makes so many things apparently effortless.
The anxiety skill is welcome to start with. Then that anxiety reaction in your body starts being used in other contexts and you start to feel like anxiety is something being done to you. It happens in situations where you don’t expect it. Your body detects the situation and uses the anxiety skill to get new tasks done quicker and more efficiently.
The increased excitement from the stress response hormones in the body in unexpected situations is a shock. The inclusion in apparently unconnected contexts is a shock and can cause fear. Fear of being out of control.
So how does anxiety progress?
It progresses naturally. You build it up by feeling good when you get things done quickly and efficiently. Your mind works quickly, and your body keeps you going when you need it.
Your mind looks for places it might be useful and you use the skill more and more.
When you start feeling the abstract effects happening unexpectedly you get confused. You get scared at times, you get tired a lot, and you are no longer in control of it. It feels like you are being controlled by the skill as the use of anxiety progresses.
The increased use of a fearful response can cause the symptoms to be added to the things that happen by your anxiety.
Let’s face it. You’re still alive, it must be a good strategy!
So anxiety can be built up by the same mechanism that started it. And as it builds you feel more and more out of control.
The symptoms tend to lead to feelings of mortality. You are no longer invulnerable, no longer happy at working as many hours as are available. This vulnerability starts to manifest as a lack of confidence and questions of what you are doing to yourself. It takes a while before you call it anxiety and you only ever see the negative side of it and that’s why you don’t understand how it happened to you.
My description of this type of anxiety is that it creeps up on you when you are busy working hard.
There’s the model. And it’s an answer to ‘How does anxiety progress’.
It progresses naturally and normally because it fits the pattern of a skill in your mind.
What you need to do is accept the model and start doing things to defuse the skill.
You can do it for yourself.
You can do it quicker by using people like myself, or people with skill sets like mine.