Take your emotional temperature

Just like a fever indicates a medical concern, anxiety indicates an emotional concern. What is your anxiety telling you?

Anxiety indicates that a conflict is ensuing, and so long as there is conflict a positive solution is within the realm of possibility. In this respect anxiety has been likened to the prognostic value of fever: it is a sign of struggle within the personality and an indication, speaking in psychopathological terms, that serious disintegration has not yet occurred (Yaskin).

May Ph.D., Rollo. The Meaning Of Anxiety . Hauraki Publishing. Kindle Edition.

As a sign of struggle normal anxiety focuses us on the present conflict by exposing the emotional temperature. Anxiety surrounding an exam, public speaking, presentation, meeting new people etc. simply points to caring. This is important to me, anxiety reminds us. It need to overwhelm the event in a negative, fearful and blinding light. Just as a fever tells us to rest, cover and care, a rise in anxiety does the same. Of course, in a hospital a fever is treated differently, and with alarm. This medical and emotional history maybe the difference between neurotic anxiety and normal anxiety.

To be sure, neurotic anxiety is the result of unfortunate learning in the respect that the individual was forced to deal with threatening situations at a period—usually in early childhood—when he was incapable of coping directly or constructively with such experiences. In this respect, neurotic anxiety is the result of the failure to cope with the previous anxiety situations in one’s experiences. But normal anxiety is not the result of unfortunate learning; it arises rather from a realistic appraisal of one’s situation of danger. To the extent that a person can succeed in constructively meeting the normal day-to-day anxiety experiences as they arise, he avoids the repression and retrenchment which make for later neurotic anxiety.

May Ph.D., Rollo. The Meaning Of Anxiety . Hauraki Publishing. Kindle Edition.

In order to confront anxiety, we need to recognize the rise in our emotional temperature. This is why mindfulness can help ease anxiety. We practice looking inward and measuring the emotional temperature of the moment. How can we avoid repression and retrenchment unless we recognize that we are simply appraising an experience? How can I succeed in constructively meeting day-to-day anxiety unless I mindfully engage it? Self-aware ease requires courage to confront discomfort and most importantly consistent practice.

What experiences raise your emotional temperature? How do you treat it?

Wishing you meaningful anxiety,


Rest, retreat, remove anxiety?
Photography by Nate Dale – New Adventure Production

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