Anxiety: The fear of what might happen

When I was training to be a therapist, I heard anxiety described as “the fear of what might happen.” That interpretation seems to be the most accurate and helpful definition of anxiety.

Most of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives.

It’s usually an unpleasant feeling connected to feelings of fear or dread. When we feel anxious, it’s typically due to a big decision or a situation that we are predicting the worst possible outcome. 

If you’ve read my other blogs, I frequently reference films or TV shows because they often create a shorthand to compare and make sense of our experiences. Horror movies are anxiety-inducing and have a way of connecting with our experiences in powerful ways.  

For example, when you watch films like Alien, Jaws, Godzilla, & King Kong, the monster is typically shrouded in shadows for most of the movie’s runtime; you don’t see the creature, but you might hear its footsteps. In Jaws, you don’t see the shark but hear the famous theme music, or in Alien, if you see the xenomorph, it is only for a brief flash to make you question, What was that?! Typically it is much scarier than seeing the whole monster.

It can be much more terrifying to take the first step when things are hidden or confusing. For most people, it is much easier to manage the anxiety once you’ve accurately identified your fears, and it’s not just all the unknowns. 

Like the hero in each film, Ripley in Alien or Sheriff Brody in Jaws, which serve as the audience’s proxy, we connect with their fears and cheer as we watch them take back control and defeat the monster. Similarly, once you have shined a light into the void and distinguished where the creature begins and ends, you can start battling your fears and overcome them. 

Bringing anxiety into the light brings perspective and the ability to make a different choice.

If you are not ready to look into the shadows on your own, then finding a trained therapist can help you navigate the anxieties lurking in the darkness and begin to take back control of your mind.

Written by: Dustin Ellis