By | Deepak Chopra MD (official) | Founder at Deepak Chopra LLC
These difficult times bring increased stress, and a natural reaction to stress is anxiety. Far from being simple, anxiety is multi-dimensional, as symbolized in brain structure—the brain itself feels no emotions, because emotions occur in consciousness. You are the product of the evolution of consciousness, and your anxiety has physical, emotional, and rational aspects.
Anxiety passes through each dimension in a sequence. What you need to know is that each dimension can generate fear, and yet in itself, consciousness isn’t fearful. Ancestrally, primitive fear originates in the lower brain, where the fight-or-flight response resides, an inheritance shared by almost all animals. Except in a sudden emergency or moment of alarm, modern humans have minimal need to this inheritance. But modern life generates low-level stress responses that we barely notice but which overload the nervous system, which needs the kind of stress relief few people find the time for.
The second dimension of anxiety is emotional, which originates in the amygdala, part of the mid-brain, where your responses are ore evolved. But emotional patterns are learned in childhood and tend to stick for decades if not an entire lifetime. Piling on worry as a habit turns anxiety into a default mode that gets triggered by small events, most not worthy of worry. So like fight-or-flight, the emotional aspect of anxiety has little positive value to modern people.
The final dimension of anxiety is the most evolved, our capacity for reason. Rationally anyone can be shown that fight-or-flight and emotional worries are not reasonable. Unfortunately, the higher brain is a final destination, by which time the other dimensions of anxiety have kicked in. Telling yourself or someone else not to worry registers rationally but doesn’t affect the pathway that fear has already taken.