Why do I feel anxious for no reason?
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
There are lots of different theories for, and reasons why, we feel anxious when there’s no obvious, direct cause. We’re not in any real danger, we’re not worrying about an upcoming event, nothing bad has just happened, and yet we feel an underlying, gnawing anxiety: discomfort in the stomach, a tightness in the chest, a whirring mind.
Although it is important to stress that everyone is different, and that the factors leading one person to experience anxiety will vary from the next, one of the most common themes that I notice with people suffering from anxiety, is that they will often be simultaneously blocking another negative emotion; namely sadness, anger or fear. So, to put it simplistically, unconsciously and without knowing it, the person feels anxiety to protect themselves from feeling the real underlying negative emotion. It’s like an unconscious self-distraction technique.
Negative emotions are a GOOD thing
We might not like feeling sad, angry or scared, but each of these emotions has a very real, evolutionary purpose and they are there to help us survive.
· We feel fear, we take positive action to mitigate that fear.
· We experience a loss of some sort, and we feel sad and grieve and are thereby eventually able to move on.
· We feel angry and we are energized and mobilized to stand up to injustice and mistreatment.
These emotions help us to live safe, rich and balanced lives and it is therefore important that we feel them.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
But the reality is rather more complex. One factor that tends to interfere with our ability to feel and express our emotions, is how we were brought up. What tends to happen is that some feelings will have been more acceptable than others in our home environments when we are growing up, and we go on to carry this bias forward into adulthood. For instance, one person might grow up in a home where family members show a lot of anger, but where showing fear or vulnerability is frowned upon. Another might have received love and warmth when they got upset as a child, but have been scolded or rejected for displaying anger. And so we learn to feel and express some feelings, whilst flattening and suppressing others.
Because human beings are designed to use all of their emotions, blocking one or more emotion will usually cause problems elsewhere within our systems. Anxiety is a very common byproduct, as is depression. So, if you’re feeling anxious for no reason, ask yourself, “is there anything that, deep down, I might be feeling sad / angry / scared about, that I’m possibly bottling or pushing to one side?” If the answer is yes, then this may be a causal factor for your anxiety and something that can be explored and treated in therapy.
About the author
Hi, I’m Andrea Sevenoaks and I’m a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor specializing in helping people with anxiety and / or depression. I am based in Tenterden in Kent and I work with individuals aged 16 and over. For a confidential chat or to arrange a free phone consultation, please feel free to contact me on 07871 314030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.