Many things you have long taken for granted – work for all, a stable society, an ever-increasing standard of living – are beginning to fall apart. Individually constructed systems of coping with the outside world now appear to be increasingly inadequate and in danger of being swept away. As a result, you may be suffering from a rising level of personal anxiety.
But what exactly is anxiety, and where does it come from? The fact is, the anxiety you’re experiencing in your life right now has nothing to do with what’s happening in the present! Originating in the early stages of your development, it rears its ugly head whenever your personal survival appears to be in danger. It may have been relevant then- an early warning system – but it certainly isn’t right now, because in the meantime you’ve become a fully functioning adult.
But when you were a helpless child, all you could do entirely on your own, for the first year or so of your life, was to breathe. For the fulfilment of all your other needs, you depended utterly on the goodwill of others. Although the situation improved gradually as you learned how to act for yourself, human physical development is slow, and it wasn’t until puberty, when your mental and motor skills became sufficiently developed, that your basic individual needs could begin to be satisfied without outside help. So then, for a very long period – fifteen years, at the very least – your over-riding need as an immature human organism was to be loved. Any lack of total acceptance during that time implied that none of your other needs would be met. As a child, you instinctively sensed this threat to your survival; it formed the foundation on which your feelings of anxiety are presently constructed.
So now you can begin to understand the role of anxiety in perpetuating a world-view of the present derived from the personal past – a world in which you still experience obsolete feelings of inadequacy and inability to cope. Although your feelings of anxiety originate in the present-day perception of an infantile threat that has long ceased to exist, they remain unavailable to your adult powers of logic and reason.
When you think about it, anxiety simply doesn’t make sense!