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By Brianna Wiest
Anxiety is an epidemic. Because it is so common and pervasive and destructive, we want to solve and prevent it. We assume that it is the result of a particular set of problems, but over years of human evolution, it’s become clear that anxiety is less the result of something being wrong and more just a fundamental part of who we are.
Yes, fundamental. Because anxiety is important. We are extremely vulnerable beings, death is always a walk outside or one cell malformation away. There are threats to our existence, forget our well-being, everywhere we turn. We rarely have sufficient information to make important life decisions, we don’t remember where we came from or why we’re here, we feel like we’re always stabbing blindly and failure is inevitable, suffering is rife and everybody is anxious because we are vulnerable. Let me say that again, because people don’t like to hear it, which means they need to.
We are vulnerable.
We need anxiety.
Anxiety, like pain, keeps us safe on a physiological level. It serves a similar function: if we didn’t get the urge to remove our hand from a hot stove, it would disintegrate. Our anxiety simply serves to keep us cautious and questioning. It is because we are anxious that we’re able to survive. The reason why it’s become so emotionally insurmountable is because we don’t want to accept that it’s not going anywhere. Fighting it is what creates and sustains it. We’re “anxious about being anxious” most of the time. Rather than using it to our benefit and appreciating it’s function, we want to be rid of it… when it’s a very fundamental part of our survival, and our experience.
So a lot of the time, when you’re anxious, it’s not that because something’s gone wrong, it’s just because you’re alive.