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The following is excerpted from LDS Daily. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
I remember once talking with a woman who told me she had anxiety issues. When I asked her to describe her experience, she said, “Have you ever been out for a walk, minding your own business, and then out of nowhere a dog rushes out and starts barking at you?” I told her I had been in such situations, even just a few days prior. She replied, “What did you feel like?”
I remarked how I was very startled. My heart rate jumped, breathing grew shallow, and I felt great fear. It was an automatic and immediate response, requiring no thought on my part. I told her it was an uncomfortable feeling as well. She sighed and said, “I feel like that all the time.”
“I feel like that all the time.” Such is the case for many who experience chronic anxiety. Anxiety is designed to be helpful, increasing our awareness and physical capacities for small moments. Some have described this as a “fight or flight” response. Yet these moments are intended to be short and in reaction to true threats. Those who have anxiety disorders have such feelings on a very regular basis, and often in response to threats that are not truly dangerous, but only seem so.
For example, when one of our sons was twelve years old, he was asked to give a short talk to our ward of about 100 people. He accepted the assignment but was very nervous about it. His anxiety increased over time, and he ultimately wanted to back out at the last minute.
I remember the morning he was supposed to give the talk. We had not yet left home to go to church. He was in a full-blown panic, hyperventilating and in great distress. His body was reacting as if he were in physical danger, the same as if he were being chased by a bear or dangled from the edge of a cliff.
My remarkable wife sat him down and explained to him that one, there was no actual danger, even though his mind felt otherwise, and two, the long-term solution to this anxiety was to press forward and confront the fear. Our son agreed to give the talk. It was a very anxious experience for him, but he completed the task.
One might ask, “Why would you require him to do something that caused such distress? Wouldn’t a loving parent intervene and stop the anxious situation from happening?”
The answer to this question lies in an understanding of the long-term benefits of difficult tasks. The story of our first parents and their initial experiences on earth is instructive.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.