Q. I would like to know some characteristics of individuals whose brains are anxious.

A. Here are a few things to consider. Anxiety is a form of fear that tends to trigger the stress response, suppress immune system function, and “downshift” the brain. Brains that are anxious tend to exhibit characteristics that may include:

  • Over-estimate the likelihood of danger of the level of danger in a given situation.
  • Be hypervigilant in trying to identify situations of potential danger
  • Expend energy trying to avoid whatever triggers anxiety
  • Either have no strategies or use unhelpful ones
  • Move quickly from one anxiety to another without resolving anything
  • Repeat the same behaviors even though they are unsuccessful
  • Get caught in the circular trap of negative habitual choices
  • Fail to reframe situations or events to reduce anxiety
  • Fail to take the focus off the self by doing random acts of kindness
  • Use IGS or internal global stabilization (internalize that one negative interaction or event will repeat itself constantly for the rest of life, then make that perception stable—set it in concrete)