Anxiety is not always neurotic. For example, being anxious that walking down that dark alley might not be a safe short cut can be a healthy form of self-protection. Being anxious that investing in a fund that seems “too good to be true” might protect you from Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme. When I was in the London subway a message blared out as the train stopped and we were about to step on— “Mind the Gap.” There was a gap between the platform and the train that you could step into if you weren’t careful.
Still, anxiety can also be neurotically triggered by a lot of non-threatening situations: you’re anxious about money even though you’ve always had enough, you’re anxious you’ll be late to the meeting even though your clock says you’re on time, you’re anxious you’ll be rejected on a date even though you don’t have any idea what this person is about yet or if you want to be with them, etc.
In these situations we are usually projecting from the past into the future. We are seeing things that aren’t there based on past conditioning. We might have had to be hyper vigilant as children to feel safe. Maybe we came from an unpredictable alcoholic family, maybe we didn't feel accepted socially, we could have been an outcast minority, had a handicap, struggled keeping up in school, etc. When we go through enough fear based situations growing up we can have a lot of “free floating” anxiety around the challenges of life. We can remain hyper vigilant around when there is no need to . While life is always in “the now”, we project our fear based “What ifs” into the future. What if I don’t have enough money to retire? What if he rejects me? What if I end up divorced? This “What if?” thinking creates a neurotic gap between the present now of life and the future. That gap is then filled with free floating anxiety.
We want to “mind the gap” and close it. Emotional Freedom Technique is one way to close the gap. In EFT we tap on meridian points, welcome the anxiety, let it move through us, and then ground ourselves into present time with affirmations. The first rounds of EFT tapping might have statements like, “I’m so scared,” “I feel lost”, or “All this fear.” The last rounds would affirm statements such as “I’m safe”, “I have all I need”, “I’m protected.” EFT helps lower cortisol levels (the anxiety inducing hormone excreted by the amygdala gland) and lets the brain process challenges without undue fear or anxiety. We can then get clear on the next reasonable action to take in handling a problem. In short, we mind the gap and close it.
Check out this video by Brad Yates on closing your anxiety gap.