Anxiety is a strange one. It’s difficult to understand it logically. That’s because it’s nature has almost nothing to do with logic! It resembles a computer that’s stuck on an endless loop. Anxiety plays out in many different ways. Although different, these various scenarios have common similarities. In order to explain one of the traits about anxiety, I’ll use a ridiculous story. This story is factitious and I’m using it to exaggerate the point that I’m trying to make.

Imagine that you’re on a boat with a hole in it. As the water is spraying in, you have a choice to make. You have two types of plugs for this hole. Panic overwhelms you as you try to decide on which plug to use. By making a decision, you’re losing the opportunity of using the other plug which might be better at stopping the leak. You know the boat’s sinking and you don’t want this to happen because you chose the less optimal plug!

However, one of the symptoms of anxiety is the inability to make a decision. (avoidance) As you feel the boat sinking, the question of, ‘What choice should I make?’ starts pounding on you more intently! As the situation becomes more severe, paralysis of analysis sets in and it paralyses your brain.


The traffic jam on your ability to decide now has become bigger. Before you only had the, “Which plug should I use” question. Now you have unrelenting negative self talk as well! As your assaulting thoughts rained down on you, your desire to hide from this attack increases. This relentless attack keeps pounding you. The reflex reaction from this viscous assault is to hide like a turtle in a shell! The problem of the sinking boat has become overshadowed by this bigger issue!

The story is exaggerated but it shows how how far from logic and rational thinking it can become. That’s why trying to solve this logically can be as effective as solving an algebraic equation by chewing bubble gum! Trying to understand it logically makes it worse! That’s because it gives more fuel to the negative self talk and it can bully you even more!

Anxiety can feel like trench warfare. Duck and hide is the reflex act against everything!

Anxiety is all about fear and avoidance. The best way to restore your sanity is to use the acronym of fear which stands for, Face-Everything-And-Recover. This is easier said than done. A large part of anxiety is avoidance. Fuck-Everything-And-Run seems to be more accurate to describe what usually happens! All jokes aside, having anxiety is hell and people want relief as soon as they can get it. There is an abundance of advice already out there. That’s the problem. The quantity of information has become so vast that it resembles white noise and it’s difficult/impossible to sift through.

Anxiety is quicksand. It’s dangerous. If you step in it, your struggle to escape can make you sink even deeper! This paradox can convince you that escape is impossible and that you’re better off giving in and allowing it to destroy your life! It can also make you believe that anyone that suggests that escape is even possible obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

1. Intensify your scanning for any possible danger.

This makes you increase your hyper vigilance for any possible threat. You imagine things going wrong and therefore take preventative steps to deal with this imaginary threat.

2. Catastrophize (catastrophe/fantasize)

Assume that the worst will happen. Exaggerating the difficulties that you face and blow it way out of proportion.

3. Avoid the perceived danger.

On the surface, this sounds like a good idea. However, when in the clutches of anxiety, the danger is usually blown way out proportion from either catastrophizing or greatly exaggerating the likelihood of a bad outcome. Another way of saying it is ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill’.


This feels like a breath of fresh air! Actually, that can be an understatement. It can feel more like an involuntary gasp of a person that’s drowning! The anxiety sufferer can then get bombarded with the thought, “Anyone that suggests that I should refrain from this involuntary gasp will broadcast their ignorance about how bad the situation is! This PROVES that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I CAN’T HELP IT! IT’S LIKE A KNEE JERK REACTION!”


Increased anxiety, fear, despair

Reduced confidence in ability to cope

Increased certainty that escape is impossible

Sink deeper into the ‘quicksand’.

6. Go back to step 1 and repeat the cycle. These aren’t individual steps. They happen is such rapid succession that it’s more like they’re happening all at once! In step 2, I talk about catastrophize. This is an infinite amount of ‘what ifs’ that toss us around as though we were a piece of driftwood crashing against the rocks during an angry storm! This is why seeking short term relief can be more like an involuntary gasp!

I want talk about how to escape this vicious circle. However, if you suffer from anxiety then while I’m explaining this, part of you will be screaming in protest about how clueless I am! For this reason I’ll speak about something else that initially will seem unrelated.

Imagine that you broke your leg. The doctor wrapped it up in a cast and you couldn’t bend your knee for six months! After the cast is removed, your leg will be very painful! This is because your muscles have shrunk from the lack of use. You now have a choice to make. Either you will:

1. Have the pain of physiotherapy as you stretch your muscles to regain the use of your leg.


2. Have the pain of a leg that no longer wants to bend. Your leg will be this way for the rest of your life unless you go through the pain of physiotherapy. Your muscles will shrink even further and recovery will become even more distant.

You must pick option 1 or 2. This is unavoidable. Deciding not to decide is still a decision and option 2 will be selected by default. No matter which one you choose, you will experience pain.

This problem will never go away by itself! It’s irrelevant how much you wish that it would miraculously disappear. It doesn’t matter how desperate you are. You can fantasize all that you want and it’s not going to happen. You can forever postpone dealing with the situation. However, this is a guaranty that you will face more pain in the long run.

I apologies for pointing out the obvious. When I get back on topic this won’t be so annoying. Um, Er, then again it probably become even more annoying but for a different reason.

This broken leg and the need for physiotherapy is an analogy for anxiety. You either decide to deal with anxiety or fantasize that it goes away by itself. There are no other options. A common choice that people make is to forever postpone dealing with the situation. As with the broken leg scenario, this is a guaranty that you will face more pain in the long run. This is the equivalent of slowly tugging at a band aid. The pain will be less but it will be long drawn out.

Face- Everything-And-Recover is the same thing that physiotherapy is for a broken leg. It’s painful but it’s required for recovery. Avoidance is the cornerstone of anxiety and it gives you the mentality of a turtle. Deciding not to decide is a big problem and will guaranty that suffering will continue and that you will be plagued with anxiety for the rest of your life! This analogy sounds cold and calloused but it’s not meant to be. When a person is filled with severe anxiety, it’s very hard to think straight and this clouds the vision of any possible escape from this madness! It’s not as straight forward as the broken leg scenario and that you have either the pain of physiotherapy or the pain of not having a leg that will move. As I said before, avoidance is the cornerstone of anxiety and this can become so sever that it’s more like being paralyzed in the brain section that commands a person to take action.

It’s not easy to override the ‘hide in your shell’ reflex act. If you become sick and tired of being sick and tired, you might have enough drive within you to escape the vicious circle. The whirlwind of emotion often puts you into information overload. It makes the brain resemble a computer that’s stuck in an endless loop! Learning/practicing on how to hit the reset button is the most effective way to deal with anxiety. For more information refer to this page

Fear doesn’t control us by dominating our emotions. It controls us by quietly convincing us that our comfort is more important than happiness. This forever shrinking comfort zone is our prison.

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