ANXIETY, this psychological demon dwells in all of us sometime or other, and in some way or other. Some of us learn to control him, some of the time, but none of us ever succeeds in eliminating him. Throughout our life, he walks one step behind us, and sometimes especially during the middle years when vitality begins to ebb and problems seem to move close and puts a grim restraining hand on our shoulders.
Everyone knows what anxiety feels like, but it is difficult to define. It is painful, and yet it is not physical pain. It is close to fear, and yet it is different, Fear is an immediate reaction to a specific and actual danger like a car out of control. When we fear something, we know what it is. When we suffer from anxiety, we do not always know the cause, .... although usually, we search about until we find something that looks like a plausible explanation.
Anxiety is a chronic state of mind that may range from a vague uneasiness to unbearable emotional distress. There are three main types of anxiety that we should learn to distinguish because recognizing each is the first step in dealing with it.
Yes, we live in a world full of difficult situations, and the inevitable result, in our vulnerable human heart, is a certain amount of anxiety might be called normal so long as it is caused by the recognizable problem and implies the anxious person to take action against those problems, or at least to adjust himself to them. But sometimes the anxieties seem to have no visible cause or is out of all proportions to the cause assigned to it. This is neither existential nor situational anxiety, it is NEUROTIC ANXIETY, and a great deal of the unhappiness in the world stems directly from it. In all anxieties, the sufferer is afraid of something. But in NEUROTIC ANXIETY, one can not identify the thing he fears because it is hidden from him. It is not in his conscious mind at all. It is in his unconscious mind.
Even in the most sheltered and orderly of lives. We cannot avoid it, as it is built into the scheme of things. We have to live with this fact, for example, that sooner or later we are going to die. There is nothing we can do about it either. The inevitability of old age, death, the possible lose health the gradual decline of vitality and virility, ... these anxieties are so woven into the fabric of our lives that they are called, "EXISTENTIAL ANXIETIES" they are part of the price we pay for the privilege of civilized existence.
Anxiety tends to grow stronger as we move through life. Men and women of twenty can afford to be much less concerned with the prospects of death or declining powers than the men and women of forty. That is why it is so important, as we move into the middle years, to begin to develop a mature philosophy of life, to confirm and strengthen religious belief so we are able to face these existential anxieties squarely.