Anxiety is essentially defined as being deeply troubled by uncertainty. We experience anxiety regarding potential outcomes or future possibilities.
As I delved deeper into the origins of anxiety, specifically why rates of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing, particularly among young people, it was clear that we all feel its effects to some degree.
I began to explore the etymology of the word and discovered that it stems from the Latin root “angere” or “anguere,” which is also the root of the word “anger.”
I found this connection fascinating because the root suggests a sense of choking or feeling suffocated. When we think of a panic attack and the struggle to breathe, we can recognize this distressing and suffocating experience.
This led me to realize that anxiety and anger are deeply intertwined.
Instead of pondering what causes our anxiety, it might be more beneficial to ask ourselves: What are we angry about?
In our culture, expressing anger is often discouraged. Many of us are raised with the notions of “Just toughen up” or “Keep your emotions to yourself.” We’re taught not to rock the boat or allow ourselves to become too frustrated.
Anger is seen as something fearful, triggering apprehension within us.
The intensity of anger can be overwhelming and make us feel frustrated, scared, or prompt us to withdraw. Consequently, we try to avoid experiencing excessive anger. Therefore, it becomes uncomfortable for us to acknowledge and tap into what truly angers us.
Focusing Our Anxiety
Here’s the remarkable aspect: anger can also serve as a powerful source of creativity.
Anger resides on the opposite end of the spectrum from love and compassion, and it often stems from a profound sense of injustice, a recognition that something is fundamentally wrong.
What if our anxiety is rooted in the perception that the world is fundamentally flawed?
We find ourselves growing increasingly frustrated with the unfolding state of affairs, the failures of our systems, the shortcomings of our leaders, and the overwhelming nature of it all. We’re angry at the way things are progressing.
If we can take a moment to identify what exactly we’re angry about, we can then begin to examine the injustices that surround us.
Exploring anger helps us begin to notice the issues that truly matter to us, tapping into our deeper sense of care.
Anxiety doesn’t have to be a paralyzing force that suffocates us and triggers panic attacks. Instead, it can become a guiding force, revealing our genuine concerns and driving us toward action. Anxiety can help us establish a connection with the aspects of the world we perceive as deeply unjust, and allow us to explore ways to create something new or navigate around those challenges.
What’s Underneath Our Anxiety?
I strongly believe that at the core of anxiety lies a crucial question: What lies beneath the anxiety? Often, the answer may well be anger.
So, what are you angry about? What injustices fuel your frustration?
It’s perfectly acceptable to compile a list of these grievances. However, as you do so, I encourage you not to become entangled in them. Allow them to exist. Just observe and enumerate the things that provoke such anger and frustration within you.
By simply acknowledging things that bring anger, you may find that some of the anxiety starts to diminish, easing and calming the overwhelming and suffocating sensations described in the very essence of anxiety.
For a video version of this article, watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMWDF835vM8