What is worry? Is it different from fear and anxiety? What do you think?
I so wanted my dog to head out to say hello to the cute little dog on the other side of the fence, but he would not budge. As I coaxed and pushed, it was as if his legs would not work. I thought to myself – well that is strange. So I took off running out the door thinking he would follow behind. To my surprise, my dog did not come with me.
I soon found out why!
Stretched out on the patio was a gigantic rattlesnake. Fear took over my body as I jumped that darn snake. I climbed on a bench while letting out blood-curdling screams for help.
This experience was the beginning of my fear of snakes.
That leads me to question my ongoing feelings. Do I have fear, anxiety or worry? I so often hear these terms used interchangeably. However, these words do not have the same meaning.
Is it fear, anxiety or worry?
Fear is usually a strong emotion caused by the presence of imminent danger. As we experience fear; hormones begin releasing into our bodies. These hormones create in us the desire to act or control our situation. This event is known as the “Fight or Flight Response.”
I have to say, God thought of everything. The “Fight or Flight Response” is simply remarkable. It pushes us to take necessary action.
Did you know that when the fight or flight response is let loose the following things happen: Blood is diverted from the skin, toes, and fingers and carried to the large muscles of the arms (for fighting) and the legs (for running). Our slow breaths will convert to rapid chest breaths, which will result in getting more oxygen to our muscles. We may even sweat which will keep our body from overheating.
The Fight or Flight Response is automatically unleashed all on its own at the sight of fear.
Now looking back I understand how I was able to jump that enormous snake even though I was just a child. My flight response automatically took over my mind and my body.
But of course, it didn’t end there. In the days, weeks, and years to follow as I approached that same patio, I would notice anxiety rising inside of me. I justified my behavior because it was not uncommon to have 10 – 12 rattlesnakes a summer at our house.
Anxiety is an emotion that often feels unpleasant. However experiencing anxiety is entirely “normal” as is experiencing fear. Both emotions can be valuable. Anxiety can help us get ready for an exam, a meeting, or any future event.
Anxiety usually pops up when we are anticipating something that might happen, but not in the face of an immediate threat. (Let me clarify I am not talking about an Anxiety Disorder just the general anxiety we all feel from time to time.) Anxiety may help me prepare for the chance I might see a snake on that patio. I can have a plan for what I will do.
Then worry entered the picture….
You see I love to hike, but I am deathly afraid of snakes. I love being out in nature and seeing all God has created. Sometimes I work my worry into such anxiety about the possibility of seeing a snake that I miss the joy of the moment. I have been known to turn back from the hiking trail before ever starting. A few times I have even become stuck on a path, and yes I am embarrassed to say I refused to budge. That is when my sweet daughter came to my rescue and carried me out on her back.
Worry is a bit like fear and anxiety all wound up together. You have the fear factor without any real present danger and the thinking part of anxiety where we worry about things that may never happen. Through our worry, we try to control something that is out of our charge.
Worry is like taking the fear and adding past experiences, imagination, nightmares, thoughts, and feelings.
One key way of knowing if you are in the worry stage of a particular problem is looking to see whether there is any more action one can take or plans to implement. If not you are probably worrying.
Worry is a waste of time and energy.
Fear and anxiety were designed to help us when in danger or to prepare us for an upcoming circumstance. We are not intended to stay in a position of fear and anxiety. Worry keeps us in that place, and it tends to hurt us, exhaust us, and keep us stuck right where we are in the vicious cycle of worry and increased anxiety.
Now that you know the meaning of worry and how it is different from fear and anxiety – you might be surprised by how much YOU worry.
Join us next week as we look at “Five Tips To Embrace And Manage Our Worry.” One of the tips just might take you by surprise; it did me.
Are you experiencing fear, anxiety, or worry?