“The state of being highly or abnormally alert to potential danger or threat” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
All animals are capable of being alert.
Cells squirm. Cats raise their hairs. Dogs bark.
We humans are no different. We become hyper-vigilant. In this state, we spend a great deal of energy trying to “sense” threats. However, while it is useful in the short-term, it can quickly devolves into a energy drain, because everything can become a threat.
- Someone gave you a compliment? They must have ulterior motives.
- Someone gave you one criticism? They must completely despise you.
- Happen to have a bit of acne? Everyone is judging you.
- Someone didn’t respond to your text? They must be gossiping about you.
So, what’s the solution?
While many people have given the advice “just relax”, this does not work unless you are already have a natural or learned disposition towards relaxing.
There is however a semi-useful rational option.
- Recognize that your perspective is false.
- Recall experiences where things turned out ok or well. For example, the person who did not respond to your text for a few days was on a hike.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to simply “erase” bad memories and perspectives. Luckily with practice, you will be able to internalize the new positive perspective.
[Recommended reading: Brain Drain by Charles F. Glassman]
[Recommended reading: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky]