#56: Fear, Anxiety and Dread

We continue our quest to improve our emotional granularity by discussing the emotions, fear, anxiety and dread. These are all emotions we as doctors experience at any time during our day, week or even moment. We put forth the best effort to take care of the patients that are put in our hands. But we know that inevitably things don't go the way we thought and we can easily allow fear, anxiety and dread dictate how we view the entire situation.  Brene Brown's book, Atlas of the Heart, dissects fear, anxiety and dread and helps give us perspective on how we can actually make this energy work for us.  We can be comfortable engaging these signals and listening to what they are trying to tell us. Some of our favorite moments:

  • So we know emotions and feelings are actually just the vibrations in the body. So it's manifesting in the body somewhere. So we have to drop out of our brain. You know, all of us are supratentorial. As physicians, as professionals, we love to stay up here. It's safe, but we actually gotta drop down. We gotta get under the jaw, under the neck and get down in our body and how it feels.
  • Brene Brown says there's trait and there's state. And so a trait is like something that is part of an individual's personality. A state, on the other hand, is a temporary condition that someone is experiencing for a short period of time.
  • When we're anxious, we often choose one of two paths and she talks about worry and avoidance. And really neither of these is very useful. We might believe it's a helpful coping mechanism. It's not. We might believe it's uncontrollable, and so we don't even try to stop it. We might try to suppress worry instead of allowing it and allowing it to pass through, and then it gets bigger.
  • Avoidance is not showing up and often spinning a lot of energies zigzagging around and away from the thing that already feels like it's consuming us.
  • Dread is specifically when a negative event is very likely to occur. Like, regardless of what happens there's a high likelihood that something negative is going to happen. And with dread, the magnitude increases as the event draws nearer.
  • Fear is a short-lasting, negative feeling, high alert emotions. 
  • Fear, though, is in response to a perceived threat. And like anxiety, it can also be a state or trait. We would ask is this useful or not? But you can consider yourself a fearful person or just have fear in the moment. Whereas this is an important difference, anxiety and dread are about the future. It's that future tripping. Fear is in the now, and it can be so rapid fire that it's almost automatic.




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