Uncovering the Root of Dread and Anxiety

The True Cause of Dread and Anxiety

Many of us experience dread and anxiety as dominant emotions day to day, which color the background to many of our thoughts. In our fragile moods, we are terrified of being sacked, of having done something wrong at work, of losing our relationship or of being accused and then humiliated by society.

The fears that stalk us may appear diverse, but it can at points be useful to generalize our condition under an all-encompassing analysis: we are beset by a sense that something very bad is about to come our way.

The real reason for feeling like this might sound surprising and initially almost random: self-hatred and pervasive shame. It isn’t that we are living in an exceptionally dangerous world, it is that we despise ourselves with rare and forensic intensity.

The logic goes like this: if we feel like a piece of excrement whose very existence is unwanted, then bad things must necessarily happen to us. Those who don’t like themselves too much will automatically expect a lot of awful things to happen to them – and will worry intensely whenever, for some reason, they aren’t as yet entirely catastrophic.

Paranoia is at heart a symptom of a disgust at one’s own being – and the accompanying sense of dread is the presenting problem of shame. The difficulty is that most of us who hate ourselves are not at all aware of doing so. The feeling that we are a horrific person is merely a given, long past being worthy of notice.

The first step towards breaking the cycle of alarm is to notice that we are behaving like self-hating people convinced that we deserve misery and that this self-assessment is coloring all our assessments of the future.

Then, very gently, we should start to wonder how a self-loving person might behave and look at matters if they were in our shoes. When panic descends, we should try to reassure ourselves not with logical arguments about the grounds for hope but by wondering what a person who didn’t loathe themselves might be thinking now.

Most conditions of alarm contain ambiguities, gaps in knowledge, and a range of options which are immediately filled in in a negative direction by the self-hater.

To correct self-hatred and shame is a life’s task. That most psychological problems arise because people have not been empathetically cherished and reliably loved when it really mattered, and that if one could be granted one wish to improve the internal well-being of humanity, then it would be, with a wave of a magic wand, to do away with shame.

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