As much pain and suffering that highly sensitive people go through because of our worry and anxiety habits, these are traits that have ensured humanity's survival since time immemorial.

What do I mean?

First of all you have to understand that anxiety is a thought process. It is not a mental disease. When you are anxious, what are you thinking about? What's great? What's wonderful? How everything is going to turn out better than you can possibly imagine? No!

You are imagining the worst case scenario. Anxiety is thinking about what you do not want to have happen. Think about it!

Let's float back in time for a moment to One Gazillion B.C. You are hanging out with your hunter gatherer buddies and it's summer time...There's plenty to eat and it's warm. All of a sudden you have an anxious thought. You think of something unpleasant about the future. You suddenly think of the coming... winter! You imagine digging through snow drifts scavenging for whatever scraps of food you can find. You imagine starving. You imagine your children, hungry, cold, sick.

That's anxiety. Thinking about what you do not want to have happen.

What it's supposed to do is trigger a resourceful response. In this case, you come up with a brilliant idea. In order to avoid starvation in the coming winter you start drying food and storing it in underground containers.

Thinking about the cold, you come up with the idea that you can make warm clothing. Come Fall you gladly trade that little summer loin cloth in for a nice woolly mammoth coat. Thus the first root cellar is born and the fur coat is invented, because of anxiety.

Your ability to think ahead and visualize bad things happening enables you to plan ahead and take decisive action to create a different outcome. This planning for the winter results in your family and tribe surviving! Your children and their children pass along this anxiety gene. The "lug-heads" who don't have this ability perish. Survival is good, isn't it?

So those who were able to foresee the future and imagine the worst were able to better plan and as a result create a better future.

Now. Fast forward to today. I would be willing to bet that you've been using this wonderful imagination of yours to imagine the worst. The added factor here is that your unconscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined, so when you imagine the worst, your body reacts as if that bad thing is really happening. That releases all sorts of stress hormones and chemicals in your body.

The point is to stop beating yourself up for having anxiety. Anxiety is merely an excellent survival tool that's been pushed beyond its original purpose. You can reclaim it's usefulness by doing what ancient people did. Become aware of a possible negative outcome in the future and then take positive, decisive action to make sure something better happens.

If it's something beyond your control, practice imagining it working out positively and see how that feels in your body. For example: if you are worried about your kids driving home from college in a snow storm imagine them arriving safely and sitting in front of the fire sipping hot cocoa.

In the meantime, how about a little appreciation for your "anxious" ancestors.

Anxiety - the ultimate survival tool!

(c) 2007, 2008 Mark Shepard

Author's Bio: 

Mark Shepard, "The Courage Coach" is a certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP and Time Line Therapy(tm). For 30 years he suffered from intense anxiety and phobias until he learned these leading edge rapid change techniques.

Get his FREE mini-course "How to STOP Anxiety In 10 Minutes or Less Without Harmful Drugs or Endless Therapy" at

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