Are You A Dog? What Dealing With Anxiety Says About You


Woof Woof.

Can you sit quietly after difficult news? In the midst of financial downturns, can you remain perfectly calm? Can you see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy? If you can always find contentment just where you are, you're probably a dog.

There's research that estimates about 80 percent of doctor’s visits in the modern world are for stress related illness or disorders. Beyond upper respiratory illness the most common issues are for stress caused included:

  • Illness exacerbated by a weakened immune system due to stress
  • Chronic back pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Upper and lower GI problems
  • Over eating, drinking, medicating
  • Eating unhealthy comfort food in abundance, which all can be a source of self medication
  • Problems with sexual functioning, and
  • Anxiety and depression

These problems only exist in our fast paced, over extended and stimulated world of stressful moments. Some scientist tells us that we're hard wired for stress even in the best of times. The evolution of our minds and brains has for millennia have been hard wired to make us unhappy for our protection.

In other words, we really didn’t evolve to be happy.

Our ancestors, way, WAY, back learned that competing with other wildlife was hazardous to our health. They learned to spot danger and recognize that lions and tigers and bears could out run them. They learned that if you start to run, you look like food.

They learned what those animals looked like. Additionally, they learned that sometimes a rock or a log could look suspiciously like and terrifying and dangerous beast. 

Therefore we learned to be very cautious; they could make two possible mistakes. The first mistake: “That beige rock looks like a lion so I will be careful and avoid it.” 

The second mistake: “That beige rock looks like a lion and it really was a lion.”

The cost of the first error; needless worry and anxiety.

The cost of the second error; somebody’s lunch.

So we evolved to make the first mistake over and over a thousand times to avoid the second mistake.  This is what scientists call negativity bias.

We keep the negative Velcroed to our minds. If you do 20 good things today but make one mistake, what do you think about the most? If I present a two day seminar get 50 excellent evaluations and one bad one, what do you think I ruminate on?

If your boss give you a great review but there is one areas for improvement, which one stick in your mind?  It is stuck in our amygdala.

Our amygdala reacts far more rapidly and more thoroughly to negative than to positive stimuli. That's why negative political advertising dominate political campaigns.

In relationships, trust is easy to lose and hard to regain. The John and Julie Gottman have spent decades studying married couples. They have determined that it takes five positive interactions to undo the effects of only one fight.

Our hard wiring and negative expectations actually deepen the more we experience our negative outlook. This loop can be broken through mindfulness practices. Mindfulness practices were developed to assist in alleviating and creating insight into how the mind creates suffering for itself.

So the loop can be broken by interrupting the natural evolutionary processes of the mind.

Furthermore, people have developed positive thinking, affirmations and various sorts of activities to counteract negativity bias. Studies have shown that positive thinking, religious faith, conventional psychotherapy, especially Cognitive Behavior Therapy , Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, can provide profound insight into the patterns of our mind that create suffering.

These practices can radically modify our outlook and views of ourselves and others. They can also retrain the brain to not automatically respond with our negativity bias.


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