Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Triggered Anxiety and Those ‘Backstage Scripts’

As Pavlov’s dogs proved, we’re creatures of our conditioning. No sooner does a troubling stimulus come to bear – one we’ve associated to be strangely familiar – a machine of anxiety is produced in the mind to ‘cope’ with it.

So many of our anxieties are produced backstage well beyond our even knowing about them. The first time we’re aware of this is when we’re suddenly off in a fit of rage, confused or dazed, flighty, or upset in a million other ways.

Yet, the behaviour is only the outcome of what we’ve had conditioned into us; that which has only now been triggered afresh.

The Origin of These Backstage Scripts

For ease of understanding, it is helpful for us to think of front-of-stage as those thoughts we’re consciously aware of.

Alternatively, “backstage” is the term we use for the millions of neural synapses occurring in the mind every second—some of which trigger fear, because they were associated that way from the beginning; yes, from our childhoods.

If we had a less than perfectly secure upbringing—and let’s face it, that’s just about every single one of us—it’s inevitable that these early concerns in childhood adapted quickly into “triggers” for future problems; those that we’re perhaps still grappling with.

It is easy to see that for all of us there are issues of residual brokenness to deal with.

The advent of sin in our upbringings is often merely perpetuated in us from our parents because it happened to them via their parents (our grandparents) and so on; one manifestation of the generational curse.

Addressing These Faulty Backstage Scripts

Two A-words emerge. These are awareness and action. Indeed, for any effective action plan toward change it’s down to these two.

The backstage scripts referred to are those now-hardened neural pathways that were once supple when they first formed when we were children, but now which routine has caused to be superhighways of the mind. By this I mean these ways of thinking are now deeply entrenched, and where they’re problematic, i.e. when they’re anxiety-producing, we find it most difficult to break clear of them.

Why do we smoke or overeat? The superhighways of the mind reinforce our ‘need’ to do these. To stop we need to take a different route, and consistently so.

Awareness is the initial key. When we note an anxiety-produced thought or behaviour we enquire of it and we subject it to truthful logic, no matter how unnatural it seems. That is action. Initially it has to happen on manual. Do it enough manually and then it becomes more automatic.

The more we do both these things—become aware of faulty thinking patterns and act to correct them in truth—the more we retrain our minds and create firm bitumen roads out of the dusty ill-used tracks in our brains upon which the healthy thinking will finally reside.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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