Everyone knows about the alarm. There is no one who has not once experienced anxiety. So, even though anxiety is common to all people, here we consider it as one of the types of obsessive thoughts, because in fact we can talk about two types of anxiety – constructive and toxic (Leahy, 2005).
Constructive anxiety is a specific form of planning: it begins with awareness of the problem and leads to its solution and drawing up an action plan to follow. In addition, and this is important, the decision and action plan lead to the elimination of the alarm. As the simplest example, imagine that you are driving a car and suddenly notice that the fuel tank is almost empty. You can worry about running out of fuel. However, after that, you find a solution: you need to go and fill the tank at the gas station located ahead. This plan of action seems to solve the problem, and then your anxiety will stop.
Toxic anxiety, on the other hand, involves trying to fix the problem in cases where there is no certainty about the result or it can not be known in advance, and there is no acceptable response that would allow you to make a plan of action. So you start solving the problem, but you don’t find any suitable answers. As a result, the alarm is returned and the whole process starts again. He’s looping. Toxic anxiety begins with the question “what if…” and continues in an endlessly repetitive cycle of unsatisfactory decisions. Attempts to solve the problem to calm yourself fail.
Toxic anxiety can refer to the most mundane things, such as friendships, money issues, or scheduling-or to completely improbable events, such as rare illnesses and catastrophic events. Toxic anxiety is determined not by the object that causes it, but by its manifestation – it seems to loop, repeat, grow and take over the mind. It is not reduced or sidelined when a solution cannot be found. So you try to solve problems in your mind, but all you come to is new possible negative consequences (Borkovec et al., 1983). In other words, no matter what the voice of false calm says to the Restless voice, no matter how reasonable, convincing, or distracting it is, the Restless voice has something to answer, and the questions “what if…” come up again and again.
There are three types of toxic anxiety: anxiety on one occasion, on several occasions and metatibia (anxiety about anxiety).
Toxic anxiety is determined not by the subject that causes it, but by how disturbing thoughts manifest themselves.
Alarm about one thing
Sometimes you can worry about just one thing, going through all the possible probabilities and consequences associated with this particular topic.
I worry about my children every day. When I put them on the school bus, I worry that they might get into an accident. When I hear them cough, I worry that they may have asthma or pneumonia. I’m afraid they might get sick because of the vaccinations. I don’t let them play after school because I’m afraid they’ll get injured. I worry that x-rays will harm them.
Alarm on several occasions
Anxiety can also extend to areas of life, and the reasons are completely unexpected.
Right now, I’m worried that the wart on my hand is a melanoma, and I’m worried about the results of the biopsy. Then I’m ready to worry about my husband, because his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level may go up, and I don’t know how I’m going to live without him. My daughter is 15 and a half years old, and soon she will get a student’s license. I’m terrified that she will drive the car herself. I worry that all this stress is destroying my immune system. How will my children survive without me?
The world has become extremely dangerous. I’m afraid to go to shopping centers because the threat of terrorist attacks is so high right now. I buy almost everything online, but I keep worrying about my friends who don’t follow the news. More and more things are bothering me – like toxins. How far will this go in the long run?
I couldn’t sleep last night because I thought I might have upset my friend by telling her, but she would never let me know, even if I asked her, because she was too polite. Do you think she’s mad at me? Now I worry about other people I may have offended. It’s so easy to offend and not notice it; I haven’t heard from my other friend in weeks, I don’t know if I’ve insulted her, too.
I have to take a test next week, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to focus and do the task, so my results for the course will be poor, which will negatively affect my ability to go to law school. I have to go to law school. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that my entire life is at stake if I fail this test. As a result, the anxiety only increases. Now I can’t concentrate, and my whole life can go downhill.
If you experience toxic anxiety on multiple occasions, your thoughts often revolve around a chain of possible catastrophic or negative events that seem to be deliberately trying to get into your mind. Most people believe that this condition cannot be controlled.
Metatibia (anxiety because anxiety)
In this case, you are worried that the alarm will harm your health.
I read in a magazine that anxiety is a manifestation of immune system stress, and stress can lead to diabetes and heart disease. I do everything I can to control my anxiety, because I know it can lead to illness. Friends say that because of all these worries, I’m shortening my life. I already do Pilates and even drink green tea and pomegranate juice, but it doesn’t help much. Maybe I should quit my job. There’s so much stress!
I am constantly restless because of anxiety. I’m such a bore, and I know that I lose friends and Boyfriends because of my anxiety. No one wants to be with someone like me, I can’t blame them for that. I always see what can go wrong, and I need to make sure everything is in perfect order. My life is devoid of joy, and I deprive everyone around me of joy.
When I can’t control my thoughts, I feel like I’m going crazy and I worry about how long I can keep my mind clear. My cousin had schizophrenia, and they say that he started acting strange in College, and since then his whole life has gone awry.
When I go to bed, I can’t stop thinking. I go over in my mind everything that was done during the day and try to find my mistakes. Or planning the next day. Or I need to go to the bathroom – or so I think – and look at my watch. Then I start thinking, ” Oh, no. There are only three or four hours left until morning, so you should definitely sleep. If I don’t sleep, I won’t be able to work the next day.” After that, I look at my watch again and start worrying about how I’m going to fall asleep the next night.