Thursday, April 19, 2018

Some new thoughts about anxiety

I've been reading Harriet Lerner's book, The Dance of Fear, and one of the conversations in the book has really struck me. When people live with low-level anxiety all the time (not the big panic kind but the kind that begins to seem normal), they tend to respond in one of two ways to most encounters or challenges. Either they under-function or they over-function.

Underfunctioners give up. They step back, feel helpless, confused, weak, passive. Overfunctioners step up, take charge, move into the situation rather than backing out. That may seem more positive but many times, it's not. Because we overfunctioners--and I am definitely one of those--step up and into places we shouldn't. We give unsolicited advice, we try to fix other people, we act like know-it-all's. I find myself doing this in particular with those of my friends that I perceive to be underfunctioning.

For the first time, I can see what was propelling my childhood bossiness. It wasn't so much a need to push people around as a need to mask my vulnerability and uncertainties. What a revelation!


Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer said...

I've thought often of this post since I read it earlier this week. It explains a lot. It explains why, though I'm anxious to leave my house, I push myself to do outgoing things like to fly to another city for a writers' conference and agree to be a speaker! Each time I set myself up for something that scares me, I do not become stronger as the saying goes but instead spend days before in panic and days after recovering. I want to be the person who does those things, and sometimes I am-- but sometimes I'm not.

Jill Kelly said...

Mollie, I know exactly what you're talking about. And it's hard to know when I'm going to be that person and when I'm not. Hugs.