Hold on to Your Story.
Everyone has a story of anxiety. Whether it is the insidious all-encompassing generalized anxiety or based on a specific instance (a report due, public speaking, crossing a shaky bridge) we struggle with anxiety as part of human nature. National surveys estimate nearly one in five Americans over 18, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18, had an anxiety disorder during the past year.
When I was a sophomore in college I had my first panic attack and since that point I have spent a large portion of my life navigating anxiety. With the rest of the world opening up about their feelings of fear and uncertainty I want to make a series of writing prompts that help with the inner turmoil. Here, in California there is ash on the ground, no cure for Covid and the news is increasingly dark about systems created to disenfranchise people.
I have been studying anxiety and ways of dealing with it, and according to neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, we have 36 words in our language for variations of fear and anxiety. When you consider that a basic box of crayons has 8 colors that is a lot. Whether your level of anxiety is a sense of disquiet – or full on consternation – know that you are not alone.
Worrying gives us an illusion of control, that if we think about an issue enough we may be able to break from the trap of our perceived problem. In the form of intuition, anxiety tells us we may be in danger which is a useful adaptive trait. But like most things, if taken to the extreme, the cure actually becomes the poison. How do we calibrate? What does anxiety have to teach us? Is there wisdom there?
Over the next few weeks I will be creating a series of writing prompts that use fear as an in-road to understanding ourselves better – what makes us tick, how we respond to our own anxiety, and how to work with it to make fear our more adaptive. By “adaptive” I mean a clarity of understanding that allows us to be more effective in writing, creating and living.
Writing Prompt: When you watch the news, or read about the outside world what stories are you drawn to and how do they make you feel? Are you the type of person who enjoys rubbernecking at an accident? Hearing stories of people who get their due? Stories of justice? Overcoming the odds? Schadenfreude? (Schadenfreude is the German word that means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.”)
Notice the types of stories and how they fit into your view of the world. For instance, “I believe bad people get what is coming to them.” Or, “When people are in need it is our communities that come together to help people survive.”
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