Feb 172013 2 Responses

Do You Have This Symptom of Anxiety?

According to Edwin Friedman, in his book  A Failure of Nerve, being anxious has a side-effect.

The fixation on a negative outcome narrows our thinking and creates the deception of a quick-fix.

  • If we could just win one election…
  • If my spouse would just make one change…
  • If my boss would just agree to my way…
  • If they would just raise/lower taxes…
  • If I could just get one raise…

…then everything would be ok.

It’s a deception.

It’s a deception which denies common logic, personal experience, and human history. Yet it is a deception we all believe in one area or another, because anxiety is weighing on our minds.

Anxiety is an over-estimation of danger–either of an event happening, or if the event happens, an over-estimation of its effects. By focusing on an improbable outcome, we lose sight of other factors. We simplify life and live in denial of its complexity.

  • Despite our inability to manage our 4-person household with a 5–digit income, anxiety makes us believe the answer to our national government is easy.
  • Despite our inability to consistently discipline ourselves, anxiety makes us believe a college football coach shouldn’t have trouble reigning in the egos of 85 college boys.
  • Despite a thousand faults of our own, anxiety makes us believe our marriage, our workplace, or our city would be better if our spouse, boss, or mayor would simply do what we think they should.

It’s deception.

Life is more complicated than the quick fix.

More often than not, seeing a quick-fix is not the evidence of our intelligence, but is evidence of anxiety which has limited our thinking.

If believing we are smarter, holier, more patriotic than others is a symptom of our sickness, how sick are we?

Consider someone you think isn’t making an obvious decision. What factors could be preventing that person from doing what you think they should? Is it possible the exact opposite of what you think should be done could be the right approach? Even if what you want to happen, happens, what would be the negative consequences of that decision?

2 Responses to Do You Have This Symptom of Anxiety?
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