“With the ideal comes the actual 
like two arrows in mid-air ..they meet” ~ Sandokai 

What does this have to say about stress and anxiety ..? The odds of events meeting our ideals are about as likely as two arrows meeting in mid-air. At the local-level, what we think people should do or say is an ideal ..what follows is the actual. Like arrows in mid-air, they seldom meet. At the neural-level, when events don’t meet our expectations, an orienting response is triggered. Pupils dilate ..light intensifies ..sounds get amp’d ..muscle tone increases ..acetylcholine is released .. blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises ..all in a fraction of an instance. The orienting response is meant to be transitory. It should subside once dissimilarities are found to be non-threatening. But when the incidence of dissimilarity occurs too often, and the orienting response doesn’t get a chance to recover ..it becomes chronic. You experience a constant sense of vigilance both mentally and viscerally, which is similar to what someone with PTSD suffers. It takes a toll. There are many reasons for experiencing a higher incidence of dissimilarity. I have a theory that highlights one possibility: memory becomes scripted with age and repetition [link]. Many of our old views of the world simply don’t match present-day reality anymore. However, we persist. This leads to a false sense of knowing and anticipating what comes next. However, what comes next is never certain ..only imagined. Anticipation-fueled imagination is a vicious cycle that leads to more frequent experiences of dissimilarity between the imagined and the actual. I believe it results in the chronic anxiety and pervasive feeling of dissatisfaction I often see in people my age.

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Tags: anxiety, neuro, stress


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