How Does Anxiety Start
Now here’s the big question:
How does anxiety start?
Well anxiety is like any skill that you have and it starts small and grows as big as you can make it.
But it’s making me feel so bad, how can that be a skill.
Let’s start at the beginning to misquote the famous song in the Sound of Music. Let’s define a skill and its progression. Let’s stick with music and learn to play the guitar with two finger chords and some gusto.
You learn to pluck a string. It sounds aweful so you learn to tune your guitar. EADGBE are the notes for the strings. Please bear with me because this does have relevance to how does anxiety start.
Right handers pluck strings with their right hand, so if you’re a lefty then just replace the opposite hand.
With your left hand place fingers at the far side of a fret and pluck again. It changes the note frequency. You can learn to do tunes one note at a time. It’s slow and laborious but you can do it. Gradually you learn where the fingers go and it happens more automatically.
Now using the two fingers on your right hand then pluck any two strings that are next to each other. For example AD. That’s a chord. Purists think it’s cheating because it’s called a fifth but it sound OK and has a bit more body than a single string. In the same way you put a finger on a string you can put a finger across two strings to change the chord. Now you can do accompaniments better. It’s still awkward but you’re getting better.
Let’s skip a bit, there’s a thing called a hammer on. It’s advanced but it’s useful and easy. When you pluck a string you push your finger on the string behind a fret quickly. It plays two notes quickly. With practice you can do that with a couple of notes. It’s pretty cool.
You can also do another advanced manoeuvre called a hammer off where you have a note with a finger behind the fret and you take the finger off so it plays two notes going down in frequency.
With a bit more practice you can do a hammer on and off in one pluck which sounds a bit rock and roll and is at the heart of a lot of music. These advanced manoeuvres are improving your basic technique and the single notes and two finger chords are getting more fluid.
You can even do the hammer techniques with the two finger chords and it sounds quite slick.
Eventually your hands and your fingers and your mind get together and say ‘you know what, this is something we’re doing a lot let’s remember internally how to do it so that we don’t have to do it slowly and consciously any more. Sub conscious processing is what you see with a regular guitar player and it came from practice. New musical tricks come that way, new chord sequences and shapes get learnt that way too.
So how does that relate to anxiety? In particular how does that help us with the question ‘how does anxiety start’?
Let’s take work as a common example. At one time you could raise your game and rev up your mind and body. Increasing adrenalin and other such substances in your blood just by the excitement or acceptance of the challenge of having to meet a deadline or getting something done quickly. It’s the thrill of the chase.
Then for some reason you had to keep doing it because the environment you work in demands it. Because you do it a lot your mind arranges it to become easy to do, and it’s triggered by a feeling of having to do something. Your mind and body are good at that and it’s become so easy. And for a while it’s made you great at what you do, you get things done fast and well and it’s serving you well, and the context in which you use this skill is broadened more so that you are efficient at so many things by revving up your body and mind to the challenge.
It takes its toll. One thing that adrenalin does for example is to make it easy to release the energy from your muscles. That’s been happening in small steps for a while. That’s why you feel tired all the time. All that emergency energy store has been used up. That’s why you shake a bit sometimes too because the muscles overreact to simple commands when your body is excited or challenged.
So you have this skill now and you’ve programmed yourself to use it in more and more circumstances and now you can’t turn it off quite so easily.
Look at any decent guitar players, Segovia, Hendrix, Van Halen, Reinhart their skill was useful to them all their lives and they built it up so that they could play just by thinking.
There’s an anecdote about Michael Johnson the basketball player doing an advert. They asked him to miss the basket. He had spent years perfecting the skill of hitting the basket. It took him around 20 shots to miss that basket. That’s not how his programming worked.
So in answer to the original question ‘How Does Anxiety Start ‘. You learnt how to do it and it was useful for a while. You have a skill and you no longer see it as useful to you.
To change it you’re going to have to learn how to turn it off at will and how to control the context in which you use the original skill.
You can do it yourself using the information here.
You can get help from me or somebody like me.
It’s what we do. And some of us play guitar a bit.