What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior!
Behavior can be defined as:
- A way in which one conducts oneself,
- A way in which a person responds to a particular situation or circumstance,
- The way in which a person thinks and acts.
Behavior is a way in which a person thinks and acts.
For example, if you think you’d like to eat a piece of chocolate cake, and then decide to go buy a chocolate cake, cut a piece and eat it, that all resulted because of behavior.
In this regard, thoughts preceded a decision, and the decision motivated an action. In other words, we first think, decide, and then act. While sometimes it can seem like we act first, it’s not that we do but that our preceding thoughts and decisions happen so quickly it SEEMS like our actions came first.
In every case, we first have to think about and decide what to do BEFORE we make an action.
You can demonstrate this by slowing down your actions. You’ll see that when you slow down your actions, every action you take is preceded by thoughts about it and a decision to deliberately act in a certain manner.
Thoughts and decisions precede willful actions…every time!
Anxiety is caused the same way. We first think about a situation or circumstance, determine to see if it’s dangerous, assess it to see how dangerous it is, and then decide to act accordingly.
For example, if we believe an impending situation or circumstance won’t cause us harm, we determine that it is harmless and behave accordingly. If we believe an impending situation or circumstance can harm us, however, we’ll most likely take some type of action to avoid the danger or prepare ourselves to deal with it. Nevertheless, whatever action we decide, it was first determined by what we thought about it and a decision about how to deal with it. So again, we first think, then decide, and then act. The combination of thinking, deciding, and acting is considered behavior. Since deciding is a part of thinking, behavior can be defined simply as: thinking and acting.
With regard to anxiety, we create the troubled state of mind by thinking about a particular situation or circumstance in an apprehensive manner.
Apprehensive can be defined as:
- Fearful that something bad, unpleasant, and/or harmful may happen.
Whenever we think that something bad, unpleasant, and/or harmful may happen, we are behaving in an apprehensive manner. This type of behavior creates the state of anxiety.
For example, worry is apprehensive behavior that creates the state of anxiety.
Worry can be defined as:
- Allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficult, troubling, and potentially bad, unpleasant, and/or harmful things.
When we dwell on difficult, troubling, and/or harmful things, such as imagining worst-case scenarios, that style of apprehensive behavior creates the state of being anxious (anxiety). Again, worry is an example of apprehensive behavior that creates the state of anxiety.
Because anxiety first starts with how we think about things, and how we think about things is a matter of the will, anxiety is NOT caused by a biological problem with the brain, a chemical imbalance in the brain, or by genes. Anxiety is caused by a certain style of behavior (the ways in which we think and act apprehensively).
So, in this regard, anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. Nothing else!
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 2016.