Dear Reader with Anxiety,
The following is one thing I think about anxiety, and it is only my opinion.
Point 1) There are different levels of anxiety.
Point 2) If you are suffering from anxieties, each individual anxiety will be on a different level.
Point 3) For some purposes it is useful to focus on one anxiety at a time.
Point 4) If you pick out and focus on one of your anxieties (possibly to try to ease its pain on you), it is important, as a first step in working on this particular anxiety — by yourself or with the help of friends or trusted family or a qualified professional — to answer the following four questions:
Question 1: The anxiety you picked out to focus on has to do with which of the following?
1: your self
2: a loved one or loved ones
3: a friend or friends
4: a plant or plants
5: an animal or animals
6. a thing or things
7: an acquaintance or acquaintances
8: all of you in your neighborhood (or some particular person or persons) in your neighborhood
9: all of you (or some person or people) in your community, region, area, state, province, or country
10: we all in the whole world or some particular person or persons in the world
11: one or more planet or solar system or galaxy or galaxy clusters
12: the fate of the whole universe
13: the fate of everything
Question 2: Whichever of 1-13 you picked out in Question 1, call it "N," the problem for it (for "N") is of
Level 1: the smallest importance for N
Level 2: small but not the smallest importance for N
Level 3: medium importance for N
Level 4: the greatest importance for N
Level 5: the absolute and total maximum importance for N
Question 3: Of which level is the urgency for solving the problem for N?
Level 1: of no urgency at all — it can be done at any time in the future
Level 2: of some urgency — no rush but some time, sooner rather than later
Level 3: of some greater urgency but not urgent — must be done soon
Level 4: of still greater urgency — it should be done in the next few days
Level 5: it has to be done within two days
Level 6: it must be done by tomorrow
Level 7: it must be done today
Level 8: it must be done no later than, maybe 10 or 12 hours
Level 9: it must be done soon, within the hour
Level 10: it has to be done now — within 15 minutes
Level 11: it has to be done right now — within 5 minutes or so
Level 12: it has to be done immediately — within a minute
Level 13: it has to be done within the next second or two
Level 14: it has to done within a fraction of a second
Question 4: Is there something you can do, in the time frame you picked in Question 3, or that you can arrange to be done, to head off the problem without hurting anything at all in the list of 1-13 from Question 1?
If your answers to Questions 1-4 were the following:
Question 1: 1 or 12 or 13; Question 2: Level 5; Question 3: Level 14; Question 4: 2
Then this is proof that your anxiety was about something that never happened, because, since you read Level 14 of Question 3, more than a fraction of a second has passed, and, though something bad may (or may not have happened) since you read the question, you are still here, you are still reading this, you are still sitting or standing and breathing and thinking and feeling, and you still have something or other you need to do and, hopefully, will be doing to head off any or all of the things about which you are anxious.
And this proves, I think, that much of what you worry about and that we all worry about and are afraid will happen, no matter how reasonable it was or is to worry, will turn out not to happen and that the best we can do, probably, is to identify what ever potential problem we are afraid might happen and to respond to it in a timely manner, instinctively, reflexively, or, in some thought out way, after talking about it with family, friends, and maybe professionals if there is time, that tries to head off what we think might cause a problem in a manner that does not make things worse or that violates ourselves or anything around us. Of course, in the end any decision we make is ours and the results, we can hope, will be good.
Please remember Point 4 above that, for some people, it may be important to have a trusted family member, friend, or professional to talk to about this exercise, if not before or during, after, if needed.
Note to Clinicians
There are other ways to configure the questions, especially Question 1 that might work better for some anxious people. For example, for Question 1, you might construct it with a branching tree structure in such a way that if the person picks 1, that is, "your self" the person has to take a different path instead of continuing on with 2-13. The new path would look something like this and would be choices for the question "The anxiety you picked out to focus on has to do with which of the following":
1: your body (and, if they choose this, then a new path would force a choice between "your muscles," "your genes," "your heart," "your breathing," "your genitals," and so on, and each of these could lead to a new path until specifics were arrived at.
2: your relationships with people (with brother, sister, mother, father, friend, teacher, bullies, team-mates, boys or girls, boy-friend or girl-friend, fiance, husband or wife, boss, co-workers, allies, enemies, strangers, foreigners, as well as with groups of people or organizations such as schools, companies, governments, and so on).
3: your relationship with animals and plants (and with tame vs. wild animals, large and small, ones who know you and ones who don't, etc.)
4: the amount of your food and water and air or that of your family and friends
5: some thing or things you control
6: some thing or things you don't control (and maybe want)
7: some or all of the territory you control
8: some or all of the territory you don't control
9: everything or something outside of your immediate control
This set of questions if very rough and would have to be constructed with care and rigor.
There could also be a set of questions for those with religious inclinations. And, in all cases, many of points could be made to branch to find out more specifically where the anxiety lies. For example, if the answer is that the anxiety is about territory you control, is it about a cave or a tent or a barn or an house or a room in an house or a corner of a room in a house, and so on.
To finish off here, though there is much more that could be said, here is a very partial list of things a religious person might be anxious of instead of the list of things that non-religious persons might be anxious of: witches, water demons, magic spells and objects, the Devil, sinners, sinning themselves or breaking one of God's commandments, trespassing on sacred and forbidden ground, braking a taboo against doing this or that or making this or that, or doing this or that in a certain way, or going to heaven and not being let in, or being destroyed forever, or being tortured forever in fire and flames, or there being no god or gods, and so on. Whatever the answer, the clinician would proceed to Question 2 and then 3 and finally 4 and then the Conclusion part of the exercise.