Taking Back Control
"I HAVE ANXIETY, I have a mental illness." We're not quite at this stage yet but we are getting there.
The speeding heart and rapid breathing, the sweating, trembling, feeling 'on-edge' and that sense of impending danger are all extremely
powerful. They descend upon us without warning and we cannot seem to stop them. These thoughts, feelings and behaviours, over which we have
virtually no control, affect us deeply – and they are supposed to, for if we had to consciously prepare for fighting or fleeing it would be
Anxiety is a vital part of being human. Indeed, every living organism on the planet has its own form of anxiety, its very own built-in
self-protection instinct. Essentially to help us survive, to keep us alive, it sits quietly in the background waiting to spring into action
when needed in times of danger. We all have anxiety; it's with us to some extent for most of the time and we can see examples of it in
• Without anxiety over being knocked down we wouldn't be careful when we crossed the road.
• Without anxiety over losing food and shelter we wouldn't continue to go to a job we hate each day.
Such powerful feelings and so little control – it's no wonder that anxiety can be seen as an awful problem, a terrible weakness,
something that has to be eradicated from our lives at all cost. But it can't be. It's part of us.
It was Mark Twain who said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear." We cannot remove fear
from our life. Similarly, self-confidence and feelings of security come from the mastery of anxiety, resistance to anxiety – not the
absence of it.
He has not learned the lesson of life who does not
every day surmount a fear.
Caesar (100–44 B.C.)
When we understand and accept our anxiety we begin to take control. Rather counter-intuitively: acceptance controls
anxiety, fighting it makes it worse. Mastery of anxiety enables us to live life to the full and most of us start out this way... until life
Once anxiety starts to control us, things change. It can lead to a whole host of serious debilitating problems – problems classified
as 'anxiety disorders' today.
The start of these problems is often a period of prolonged increased anxiety, seemingly without cause. Numerous research studies have shown
that the one thing most people suffering from long-term anxiety disorders remember about the start of their problem is: "being too
nervous for a long time".
This book is about just that: 'being too nervous (or too anxious) for a long time without good reason'. It is to help you understand why
this happens and how to deal with it – how to take control of such anxiety rather than letting it control you – and in doing so
nip any potential future problems in the bud.
In Part I we'll look at the current beliefs and theories about anxiety-related problems and how they influence everything we think about
In Part II we'll explore anxiety through the lens of human evolution and survival. What is it? Why do we have it? How does it
work? Here, you'll discover the real reason for that increased anxiety that plagues so many of us today.
Part III will teach you how to take control of anxiety and master it. This can make the difference between a life ruled by fear or one
lived with confidence, so let's get started and take a look at how we think about anxiety today...
(End of Introduction)
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