Worry About The Unknown

Wonderful website. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. I have a problem I call "worried limbic system". I'm often anxious without knowing why. It seems like my limbic system is always worried about some terribly painful situation that lies in my future, but which is presently unknown. I wonder if you could offer any advice to help reassure my limbic system that everything is going to be fine and no matter what happens in the future, no matter how horrible, it will all work out in the end and everything will be fine.

thank you,

Erik

Erik,

Your “worried limbic system” is an overactive amygdala, which is repeatedly triggering fear messages. Inherited memories (a fear of snakes), acquired memories (your painful worry experiences) and the unknown are the customary system triggers for fear.

You experienced fear at some point in life, without discovering the cause of it. The amygdala triggers fear for any disturbing event, (a loud sound) with an unknown cause. Your RB (rational brain) searched for the cause and came up with nothing. Unfortunately, the amygdala then acquired a new fear of the unknown.

Whenever the fear emotion is triggered, your RB searches for the cause to take evasive action. When the cause is unknown, the amygdala heightens the fear. That is a nasty experience. So, now you have a painful fear experience to be feared. Over time, LTP creates a rising spiral of fear.

You can halt this painful subconscious cycle. When you feel the fear coming on, your RB should focus on its symptoms and identify them as mere physical sensations. With a little practice you will be able to stop your RB from searching for the “cause” of it. There is no “cause.” It is just an LTP circuit in your amygdala, which is misbehaving. After a few successes in identifying the physical symptoms, your “worried limbic system” will shut down.

You will also need to work on your fear of the future. Life throws us all kinds of things. It will never be “fine” all the time. What you need is the ability to face whatever comes, without a sinking feeling. Your goal should be to be calm and composed, whatever happens. Work on getting rid of your fear and you will reach there.

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