Does Anxiety have a Purpose?


Anxiety or nervousness about an impending event is a natural human condition. What is not natural is to let anxiety rule. Anxiety is a nervous condition, and anything to do with the nervous system is linked to thinking. Therefore, we can assume that we have control over anxiety through our ability to think things through.

To gain further insight into anxiety we need a fundamental understanding of the difference between our egotistical nature or lower self, and our higher self or ‘I’. These two elements in our being can often be conflicted. To complicate things further, our egotistical nature can feel threatened by our ‘I’ which actually causes feelings of anxiety. Unless we understand the source of our anxiety we cannot get on top of it. One way to know the source is to realise that our egotistical responses to life are often unconscious; and when we respond to life by engaging with our ‘I’ we are very conscious. The anxiety could still be there, at least initially, but we can influence it through our thoughts.

On the one hand, we feel anxious because our ego feels threatened by events in the outer world, and on the other hand, our ego feels threatened when we have an inner experience of our ‘I’. The feeling of anxiety, therefore, is like an alarm. This alarm is not calling us to allow the feeling to accelerate, but rather to become conscious of what is taking place. We are called to think.

Even though our ‘I’ gives us a feeling of anxiety, it is through our ‘I’ that we can manage any anxiety that comes our way from the outside world. We could say that our ego is never objective and our ‘I’ is always objective. To assist us further, we can be aware of this general case in point; thinking and feeling must work as a team. We temper our feeling with thinking and we warm our thinking with feeling. Knowing this helps us to test what is at work within us when we experience anxiety. Either way, we have the task of overcoming anxiety by thinking through what is happening. This is the purpose of anxiety, to wake us up and connect us to our ‘I’, our higher self.

4 Responses

  1. Hi
    I’ve been thinking about your commentary regarding the relationship between our ego, I and the related anxiety…
    My experience of this is slightly different – my sense is that the ‘I’ encourages the ego to go beyond its comfort zone that is it exposes the ego to new ideas and possibilities. As a result anxiety can be created due to the ego being encouraged/dared to reach into at times the unknown or unfamiliar.
    Hope this adds to your discussion…

  2. I agree, our ‘I’ always encourages us to go beyond our comfort zone. What I have tried to put forward in this post is that anxiety comes from two directions. If we understand this we will meet our anxiety more objectively.
    On the one hand, we experience anxiety about the external circumstances that pull us out of our comfort zone by disturbing our ego. On the other hand, from within us, we feel anxious about the pressure from the ‘I’ calling us to meet the challenge.
    What usually happens is that we blame the external circumstance for our discomfort instead of seeing the experience as our opportunity to enter into new ideas and possibilities.

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